Friday 4 November 2016
I write this having wrapped up another year of discussion at our stand at EHI Live 2016. All of the planning and hard work that has gone into this year’s exhibition certainly feels like it has been worth it now. It’s safe to say it has been another successful year for us at EHI Live this year, perhaps made more monumental than the last with the introduction of our new exhibition stand.
Thank you to all of the visitors that came by to our stand for a chat, it was great to hear your thoughts on tackling the challenges your organisation face. You certainly kept us all very busy!
With another year gone, it feels like an appropriate time to discuss the key takeaways from this year’s EHI Live. Your discussions have in part driven these takeaways as we haven’t been able to visit many of the talks.
Data governance is always a hot topic for discussion at EHI Live and this year proved no different. One of the main objectives for healthcare organisations right now is joining together all of their disparate data into one repository. This brings with it all sorts of data governance challenges.
Unifying all siloed data within an organisation significantly increases the number of people with an interest in accessing it. Data governance controls would have to be much stricter than perhaps previously, ensuring that our confidential personal data is only accessible by those who truly need it to improve our health outcomes.
Interestingly, the end of last year saw the Secretary of State for Health commission a report for the NDG to carry out an intensive review of data governance and recommend new data security standards. In her foreword, the NDG Dame Fiona Caldicott explains that there has been very little positive change in the use of data across health and social care since the 2013 review. In the 2016 review, it was identified that many of the data governance breaches were related to information on paper. As the health and social care sector moves towards a paperless digital future with the right technologies, better data governance protocols should naturally occur.
Interoperability was something we mentioned in our takeaways from last year’s event and this year we found it was no less important! In fact maybe more so, as from the conversations we had with people, this was certainly a key area of interest for them.
Since last year, we have been accredited by techUK’s Interoperability Charter to show that our solutions are interoperable and that we too are also invested in this area to ultimately deliver better integrated health and care.
In an ideal world, all healthcare systems would be interoperable so that they are able to work together. This provides numerous benefits, the most prominent being data is able to be passed across to different systems allowing a joined up view of organisational data which can be used to better solve the challenge of tracking patient journey.
This really needs to be made a key focus by healthcare technology suppliers to ensure the products they are providing the health and care sectors are made interoperable. All systems within healthcare should be part of an integrated community of systems and it is time that we make this a reality.
Shared Digital Vision
This is something that has always stood out to me as someone who is enthusiastic about the great benefits achievable through self-service analytics and a data strategy that allows input from clinicians and other end users. It was certainly something I picked up on as being a key topic of this year’s event.
We have already seen that the current approach is not working and still many healthcare professionals are left isolated from data because of low technology adoption rates perhaps caused by a lack of technology usability and communicating the vision to front-line staff.
I felt this was summed up really well in one of the talks when it was said, “We want technology to work around us, not the other way around.” That short sentence describes exactly what all technology providers should be striving towards, healthcare or not. Designed for the end users in mind to make their jobs easier.
Without involving front-line staff and other end users in the digital vision, healthcare organisations are missing a critical opportunity to build a data-driven culture and design their technology requirements around the teams of end users who will be using it the most.
Big data was always going to be a big topic this year. I suppose this is more prevalent within health and social care simply because they are a perfect example of big data generation and the challenges that come with storing, retrieving and analysing information.
Everyone knows the benefits of successfully implementing a big data strategy but the unique challenges of the NHS make it very difficult to do so. As one of the world’s largest organisations, it is unfathomable to imagine all the different systems they use, all generating data of varying size and format.
With the introduction of IoT and other wearable devices in healthcare, it seems that this big data generation is only on course to further increase the challenges to successfully capture and analyse big data. In order to realise a world of predictive analytics, trend forecasting, disease prevention, pre-emptive prescribing, etc. harnessing the insight held within big data is needed.
The key areas for discussion around solving the NHS’ big data challenges revolved around a lack of standardisation of NHS software, the difficulty in maintaining data governance standards and a shortage of required skills needed by staff.
It seems essential that NHS and other health and social care organisations really research the market to ensure they are getting a solution that ticks all of these boxes. As a final note, the role of self-service technology is becoming more and more important, allowing clinicians and other non-technical end users access to applications that require little training, meaning they are able to concentrate on improving their service – delivering high quality care to the patient.