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'Improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery'

25 November 2009

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With public health spending to rise in the coming years, there is a need to establish a robust health information system for effective delivery of health services, says Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President, Public Services, SAP. Combining best practices in healthcare with stakeholders’ participation will boost healthcare programmes, she adds.

Health sector reforms have been marked with several initiatives. Such reforms have focused on all aspects that impact health – nutrition, hygiene, drinking water and healthcare itself.

Image credits: egov/ Adaire Fox-Martin

Government of India has placed special emphasis on healthcare programmes with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as one of its flagship programmes.

Government owns the majority stake in the health infrastructure and is, therefore, one of its key responsibilities. Integrated eHealth is a necessity for the various governments – both Central and States to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of their health programmes.

As Vice President of the Public Services group for SAP’s Asia Pacific Division, Adaire Fox-Martin oversees the strategic direction and activities in the area of public services in the health, education and defence sectors across the region and executive relationships with customers and partners.

Excerpts from the interview:

egov: Why are eHealth initiatives significant?

Adaire Fox-Martin: The importance of quality healthcare cannot be understated. However, more and more citizens and governments around the world are deeply concerned about the sustainability of their healthcare systems.

In several countries, healthcare expenditure will grow at a faster pace than their economic growth (20% of GDP by 2014 in US). With public health spending set to rise in the coming years and new initiatives taken as a result of the reforms, the Departments of Health, Medical and Family Welfare will face challenges.

This requires a robust Health Information System to provide decision support (operational, managerial and strategic), enhance evidence based policy making and undertake effective monitoring leading to improved accountability and effectiveness at all levels of the health system.

egov: What are the characteristics of healthcare industry and what should eHealth address?

A Fox: Healthcare systems involve a complex web of stakeholders including hospitals, primary care organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, research and medical technology companies, health insurers, medical professionals, the government and, of course, patients.

The players are acutely aware that healthcare can only be effectively addressed with the cooperation of all participants. Also, studies carried out for the White House have found that as much as $300 billion is spent each year on healthcare that does not improve patient outcomes – treatment that is unnecessary, inappropriate, inefficient, or ineffective. This necessitates that integrated eHealth addresses the

  • Effectiveness of Health Governance to improve the administration of human, financial and other resources directly or indirectly, involved in the delivery of healthcare services
  • Delivery of healthcare through Preventive, Curative and Epidemic management
  • Reliable and timely information

egov: Does integrated eHealth have examples globally?

A Fox: There are many inspiring examples of changes happening. However, a much more collaborative and integrated approach is required to accelerate healthcare transformation. Usage of passive RFID Tags for medication tracking; Portal as single point of access for integrated scheduling throughout 150 clinics (Sacre’Coeur Hospital of Montreal); Collaboration of hospitals, primary care doctors and other providers (HMO in US); sharing of resources and patient information (The Hamburg hospitals Mariahilf and AK Harburg) are only few examples amongst increased participation by all stakeholders.

egov: What are the basic tenets of an efficient and effective eHealth system?

A Fox: By combining best practices in healthcare with an open, scalable technology platform and the collaborative power of the internet, providers of eHealth systems (such as SAP) aim to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery and increase the quality of patient care. Some of the ways this can be achieved are:

  • Superior patient value: Enabling delivery of eHealth solutions for inpatients and outpatients as well as services to elders at home, for superior therapeutic outcomes, at a lower cost
  • Product and service leadership: Delivering a standards compliant clinical operations management solution to enable better patient care and lower cost and time-to-market
  • Demand to supply management: Implementing responsive supply networks to enable producers, distributors, retailers and providers to plan, collaborate and deliver
  • A common collaboration platform: Connecting providers, producers and payers on a single, open healthcare IT Platform
Source : egov

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