Elective surgery waitlists are out of control in Australia (Victoria, NSW, WA, Tasmania, and South Australia) it is hard for a week to go by without a news of another problem. Politicians and officials give numerous explanations for the long elective surgery wait-lists, but few give solutions and even fewer turn to technology & analytics to help address the issue.
Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives from ordering pizza through UberEats or tracking our sleep cycles on our fitbit. Technology promises to change our approach to healthcare. Many Australian healthcare systems have started their digital transformations yet few have implemented a full electronic peri-operative EMR to address the surgical issues in Australia. Why is this?
Electronic health information standards may be lacking in the peri-operative space. HIMSS electronic medical adoption model (EMRAM) criteria is light in term of peri-operative information management. Other software tools are prioritized over a full peri-operative software system. For example, medication management software is popular in the peri-operative space and is also very important. Medication errors have been reported to be as high as 1 in every 2 surgeries. However, medication management software does not necessarily record the full context of the patient such as fasting times, intubation methods, fluids, blood loss, equipment used, adverse reactions, complications, postoperative care and vital sign data. Key information that is already collected on paper is lost. Lastly, the peri-operative space is very complex, historically peri-operative solutions were not able to handle the complexities across the operating suite.
The need for an electronic peri-operative software solution is increasing. Anaesthetic & surgical research continues to demonstrate the techniques used during surgery have an effect on short, long term patient outcomes and revisits to the hospitals. In the absence of electronic tools to capture these large sums of data, the research reports are small in scale, resource intensive and require significantly more work to be statistically and clinically significant.
Australia Hospitals have chronically missed their theater utilisation benchmarks put forth by state governments (Queensland, NSW, Western Australia) and patient are left suffering. The electronic tools hospitals use during surgery are disjointed they often do a select task of one or two of the following:
- wait-list management
- medication management
- patient pre-assessment & risk management
- patient flow
- clinical planning
- clinical reporting: anaesthesia & surgical
- recovery & post operative care
- internal & external communications
Each of these components within the peri-operative space has an intricate link to other components. For example, the relationship between the wait-list and the theater schedule is complex, furthermore the patient self-assessment or condition will dictate the expected probability of cancellation. The anaesthetic and surgical techniques will dictate the expected length of surgery, as will the actual surgeon themselves. The hope in most operating suites is that the scheduling nurse will be able to capture, analyse and communicate these nuances across the 10 or more staff members involved in the process.
The reality does not met the expectations – at least in terms of the state recommended theater utilisation benchmarks.
Peri-operative software solutions must capture the clinical, patient, and scheduling nuances across many different disciplines to drive forward the peri-operative discipline and improve our healthcare system. The Getz Clinical peri-operative solutions have recently launched the first phase of their new analytics platform. These solutions will report, evaluate all the information across the peri-operative space driving actionable healthcare improvements.
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