Interview: Dr Gareth Goodier
How can health care providers raise safety standards and improve the quality of care?
DR. GARETH GOODIER: Health care providers need to ensure that patient safety and quality of care are their number-one priority. For many health care services, there is a direct correlation between the volume of care conducted and the quality of the outcomes. It is essential that health care providers possess adequate skills and have access to sufficient resources to look after diversified patient populations.
Providers need to constantly work on improving organisational culture to achieve the best clinical outcomes, supported by evidence-based medical practice. Moreover, medical staff need to be continuously trained and updated on advances in technology and the latest medical developments. In an ideal work culture, team members are empowered to speak up on behalf of patient safety.
What criteria must health care providers prioritise to ensure patient satisfaction and safety?
GOODIER: My experience has led me to look at everything I do through the lens of quality. There are three main criteria to consider while judging the quality of a health service: first and foremost, patient outcomes; second, patient experience; and third, the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole system. Good clinical care is made up of many elements, including high-quality professionals, teamwork, effective communication and a supportive organisational culture, in combination with the right infrastructure and equipment.
We also need to partner with our patients so that they can help us enhance their experiences and, ultimately, produce more favourable outcomes. As an example, when I was CEO of Melbourne Health in Australia, the organisation proactively engaged its clients on 25 of its internal committees involved with the quality, safety and redesign of its health services.
How can ICT help to improve health care delivery?
GOODIER: In recent years there has been an appreciation of the value of health informatics as a driver of better patient outcomes. SEHA introduced electronic medical records (EMR) across its health care system 10 years ago. EMR allows us to store vast amounts of patient information to use in future decision-making. A modern electronic medical record is not simply a digitised piece of paper, but has embedded within it clinical decision support and artificial intelligence (AI) to help clinicians make better decisions. Health informatics also aids clinicians to establish the right diagnosis and select the appropriate medication or therapy. In addition, such data allows for business intelligence and analytics to identify areas where improvement is needed. At a population level, AI enables the risk stratification of individual patients with a view to keeping patients healthy and at home.
In what ways will the use of digitisation change the practice of medicine in the future?
GOODIER: Digitisation will enable patient portals, which will allow patients to review their records, engage in their health care journey and take responsibility for health-related decisions. At SEHA, our ambition is to provide a user-friendly, online portal that brings health care to the palm of your hand through mobile devices, from booking appointments to accessing records and two-way communication with clinical staff. With the increasing prevalence of digital devices linked to medical records, more patients can be monitored remotely.
Similarly, telemedicine has had a very positive impact in providing sub-specialty medical services for patients in rural areas. Furthermore, AI allows us to analyse new patterns of disease and provide cutting-edge treatments, such as gene therapy and stem cell therapy. We want SEHA to be at the forefront of health care research in these specialised areas.
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