Flexible Technology

The key to a responsive healthcare offering

Alan Fowles, President, Allscripts International

In order to expect the unexpected in healthcare and tend to the evolving needs of patients, health systems need flexible technology that enables them to seamlessly integrate and pivot as needed. Alan shares his insights on this topic.

Healthcare technology is a vast and rapidly growing sector that enables organisations in the industry to improve virtually all aspects of the healthcare system. There are significant possibilities for continued innovation and optimisation enabled by a wealth of technological capabilities.One of the most essential functions of healthcare technology is the IT infrastructure that digitizes and streamlines processes across healthcare organisations. A strong healthcare tech infrastructure empowers workers to achieve smarter and more effective care, and illustrates the importance of having not just the right people, but the right tools in place to achieve better patient outcomes.

When it comes to the healthcare industry however, it isn’t enough to streamline standard processes, as patient needs can change in a heartbeat. Clinicians should be prepared for anything, all the time. Expecting the unexpected can make a world of difference, but in reality, organisations are only as adaptable as their IT infrastructure allows. Technology built with flexibility in mind is therefore vital. Healthcare IT infrastructure like Allscripts Sunrise open platform enables health systems to seamlessly integrate capabilities into its ecosystem, enabling organisations to adapt and evolve processes to reflect changing circumstances.

There is no better example of this need for flexibility right now than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently setting the agenda for the industry and redefining what is normal in patient care. Healthcare organisations have a lot on their plate combating the pandemic, and as the unprecedented situation develops it calls for continuous optimisation of patient care processes. An example of this is Singhealth, the largest public healthcare cluster in Singapore. Singhealth was able to nimbly manage its response by activating and building out capabilities needed, such as launching questionnaires that were accessible on mobile devices for people coming to its institutions to seek treatment. With the ability to directly upload electronic medical records for medical teams to easily refer to, this helps patients save time and minimise face-to-face contact.

Before the pandemic, Singhealth has over the years, built on its data-driven approach to healthcare processes and integrated new capabilities into its healthcare ecosystem. In 2019, for example, it custom-built an app for patients to view their daily care schedules, including meals, medications and tests via a bedside tablet. Patients are able to access other important medical information such as their diagnosis, vital signs, medical test results, medications and dosages.

In the complex IT environments of large healthcare systems, the resources organisations spend integrating disparate systems can stifle innovation and impact organisational responsiveness when it really matters.     

During these times we see most countries around the world, including Singapore, advancing medical capabilities to accept an increase in patient volumes. It is important to understand the benefits of flexible technology which can adapt to new functionality to help doctors manage patients, and take steps to put this in place if a second wave of COVID-19 emerges. The significance of having digital infrastructure that adapts to the needs of healthcare organisations and flexes to meet unexpected requirements cannot be understated, and there has never been a more relevant time to consider the possibilities. One of the advantages of a fully adaptable healthcare IT solution is that it can scale up and down according to patient needs. In a situation like a global pandemic where healthcare organisations are dealing with a sudden influx in numbers, flexible IT infrastructure can be an invaluable support to healthcare workers managing patient care.

Every time a new health threat surfaces, the healthcare industry learns from it and is better prepared for the next one. While is impossible to plan for every eventuality, we can embrace this element of uncertainty and plan for the unexpected by building flexibility into our healthcare response.

Alan Fowles

Alan Fowles is President of Allscripts International, responsible for business development and operations outside of the USA. With more than 30 years in global healthcare, he has focused on business growth, market entry and developing leaders for healthcare technology companies.  Alan has held Leadership positions in several listed companies prior to joining Allscripts in December 2016. Originally a clinician, he held a number of senior clinical and hospital management positions within the UK and Scandinavia.  He holds an Executive MBA from Ashridge Management College, affiliated to City University, London.

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