Monday, June 19, 2017

Healthcare communication is dangerously obsolete - Here's a fix

Healthcare technology is progressing rapidly, with newer faster ways to diagnose and treat illness advancing all the time. Yet, a very high percentage of care is coordinated using 50 year old fax communications, mail (yes, with a stamp), and the telephone. Fax, mail, and phone are inefficient, unreliable, and outdated standards for communicating lifesaving information. They create a bottleneck that slows the pace of healthcare to a dangerous crawl. Dr. Michael Giuffre has implemented a solution - and he believes it is exactly what the healthcare system needs to survive.

In a recent interview (video above), Dr. Giuffre, practicing pediatric cardiologist for 27 years, member of the Canadian Medical Association Board of Directors, past president of the Alberta Medical Association, clinical professor at the University of Calgary, and member of the Brightsquid Board of Directors describes that the issue with the system is having, “multiple systems that don’t talk.” He explains that there is, “no ability to integrate that information.”

“We’ve tried to transition medicine and the communication of medicine away from paper to electronic, digital medicine with the notion that we’d be improving quality of care of  patients,” Dr. Giuffre notes of the last 15 years.

Even though records are typically created and stored electronically, that information resides in silos within clinic walls and is not easily shared. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems are designed to keep digital records secure, not make them shareable. And because the system continues to rely on obsolete communication technologies, people get sicker (or worse) waiting for care or working with health team members that can’t see their whole health picture.

Modern communications technology such as email has been ignored by healthcare because it isn’t a secure way to transmit confidential information. Dr. Giuffre and his colleagues use Brightsquid Secure Health Exchange, an email-like secure communication service, to share patient information safely. As a result, he says, “Waiting time is less and access is improved.” But the big benefit Dr. Giuffre sees is that health team members are provided with, “sources of truth that help us be safe, that help us provide timely great access to care.”

Too much effort and time is wasted trying to coordinate appropriate care for patients. The resulting delays cause suffering for patients and drains unnecessary cost from the system. These inefficiencies have made the Canadian healthcare system unaffordable. Dr. Giuffre believes that the system can be saved using systems like Brightsquid to create efficiencies through better communication. “I don’t think it’s about spending more money. I think it’s about coordinating all these disparate silos of care,” he explains. “We need to better spend dollars in healthcare, and this is a perfect tool for that.”




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