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“Thinking” patient records “could automate parts of the medical profession”

 

The technology already exists and could be in Norwegian hospitals within a few years. “Patients, doctors and researchers will notice a big difference,” says Geir Prestegård, Health practice lead, Accenture Norway.

MEDICAL RECORD: Every Norwegian hospital uses electronic records these days, but their full potential remains unexploited.

"If a patient is admitted to hospital, the doctor will automatically know whether they have previously visited their regular GP about the same problem. This will save valuable time for doctors and result in better treatment,” says Geir Prestegård, Health practice lead, Accenture Norway."

Every Norwegian hospital uses electronic records these days. The problem is that they are static and leave little opportunity for co-ordination between institutions or analysing data. However, this is about to change.

“In a modern patient record system, up-to-date information could flow between outpatient departments, hospitals and GP surgeries.”

Such technology is already in use in a number of countries and, in Norway, Accenture has been involved in introducing the Summary Care Record, a simpler version which allows the most important details about a patient to be shared between parties.

“Patients, doctors and researchers will notice a big difference when the new technological solutions for patient records are implemented,” says Prestegård.

EXPERT: “In a modern patient record system, up-to-date information could flow between outpatient departments, hospitals and GP surgeries,” says Geir Prestegård, Health practice lead, Accenture Norway.

More automation and control

Smedsrud believes that the new patient records will function as the oil in the machinery, even alerting doctors if they are about to make a mistake.

“In practice we’re talking about records beginning to ‘think’ for themselves and making recommendations based on algorithms determined by clinicians. This technology already exists and in time could be involved in automating parts of the medical profession.

“It would improve quality and give doctors more time with their patients,” says Prestegård. The new technology will also give patients more control, such as by being able to find their details online or via a mobile app.

“People will get full access to their own records, which is currently a difficult process for most patients. In addition to making appointments and viewing test results, individuals will also be able to follow their own care pathway and provide information to doctors ahead of their appointment.”

Current status of medical records

  • Hospitals, outpatient departments and GP surgeries hold different sets of records for each patient.

  • Records are often held in local systems with little communication between institutions.

  • The current system can lead to doctors having outdated information on patients.

New research opportunities

The new patient record systems will make it easier to analyse patient data.

“Researchers currently have to sift through thousands of pages of records in free-form text, which is a massive problem. Larger, more modern systems will save a lot of time,” says Prestegård.

“In addition, new analysis technology will be able to help researchers find problems worthy of research.”

“Is privacy protection preserved in such systems?”

“This type of system obviously places vigorous demands on both security and privacy protection. They must be preserved and are, first and foremost, dependent upon a series of other factors beyond the system itself,” explains Prestegård.



Not in the bag yet

This autumn, the Central Norway Regional Health Authority became the first health trust to announce a competition to provide a modern and forward-looking patient record system. The other health trusts are following events closely, but Accenture believes we will have to wait some years before we get to see the new patient records.

PERSPECTIVE AND FREEDOM: The new patient record systems will make it easier to analyse patient data and people will also get full access to their own information.

“The biggest obstacle we face at present is that patients, clinicians and decision-makers are unaware of the opportunities that exist and hence don’t make any demands. At the same time, we’re talking about investment in the billions. Even if it is worthwhile to replace systems, the size of the investment could be discouraging for many,” says Prestegård.

He hopes that the results from the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and the other Nordic countries will convince decision-makers here at home to set things in motion.

“We’re witnessing the domino effect elsewhere. Once users see what their colleagues are getting out of the tool, they’ll want the same thing on their own desks.”

EXPLORE MORE PERSPECTIVES IN THE ACCENTURE DIGITAL HEALTHCARE BLOG


Authors
Geir Prestegård
Geir Prestegård
Norway Health lead, Accenture


Having helped to deliver many of Accenture Norway’s largest public sector eHealth projects over the past 15 years, I’ve acquired deep and broad experience within the Norwegian health sector. I’m currently responsible for all healthcare-related clients and activities in Norway. Outside of work, I love spending time with my three kids and keeping in shape through running and cross-country skiing. At work, I’m driven by the possibilities that IT brings to healthcare—and inspired by its potential to provide the seamless back-office that supports doctors, nurses and physicians in their core business—treating patients.