The line between digitisation and digitalisation is easy to miss. Some hospitals believe they have digitalised their processes, when, in fact, what they do is digitise their data. Allow us to draw the line between these two concepts.
Digitisation is the first stage of digitalisation. When we say digitisation, we refer to changing a physical format to a digital one, say an electronic patient record or typing prescriptions into the computer as opposed to writing on a piece of paper. Specifically, in a quality process, this refers to recording incidents in an online system rather than on paper forms.
Digitalisation, however, is leveraging technology to enable workflows around your digitised data. It means the ability to automate your processes so that the system can handle most of your work for you, while you focus on primary care.
Hak Yek Tan, Founder and CEO at QUASR, shares why hospitals, especially the quality and safety department, must adopt digitalisation. We all know and acknowledge the significant innovation happening in the diagnosis and care space, taking advantage of the advances happening in data-centric technologies like machine learning or artificial intelligence. But the same levels of innovation or progress do not seem to penetrate the quality and safety department.
Quality and safety, Hak underscores, is mostly a decision-based system. The right decisions are made when we have valuable data available at our fingertips. “When a process is digitalised, insightful information is readily available,” says Hak, adding that digitalised processes are more accurate and less prone to errors. Hospitals surely agree on this, as we have previously learned how the lack of technological support often leads to medication errors.
A mired progress on digitalisation programmes for some healthcare providers is because of the fear of data security. Dubbed as the “new oil,” data is prone to several risks that understandably hospitals wouldn’t want to trouble themselves with. But risks come with every new endeavour, don’t they?
For Hak, the best countermeasure is to undergo “scrupulous data collection” and to trust that the right solutions are always evolving. With responsible data collection and stringent security measures, the entire industry can benefit and leap forward.
“It is our firmly held belief that digitalisation is an important step to enhancing quality and safety standards for any organization, most importantly healthcare, and it provides a multitude of benefits,” Hak affirms.
Prerequisite for effective risk management
Risk management is a crucial aspect of healthcare. Many hospitals still rely mostly on reactive approaches, while others have graduated to a proactive approach. Whether it is reactive or proactive, risk management is less effective in a manual process setting.
For quality and safety department in healthcare, the goal should be proactive risk management. Risk management requires an ability to register, track and assess various elements contributing to each recognised risk factor. Digitalising quality processes such as incident and risk makes it effective. Thus, it is a prerequisite if your goal is to eventually adopt proactive or predictive risk management. Even reactive risk management is more effective when you have a digitalised process.
A culture of learning
Digitalisation enables effective mining of safety and risk-related information that acts as a learning source to the organisational knowledge base. Sharing the lessons learned from near misses and errors and sharing best practices with everyone in the organisation can not only bring about a culture of learning and continuous improvement but also contribute to a better risk management strategy.
Time and cost savings
One of the key benefits, of course, is time, Hak underscores. “We had the chance to talk to multiple stakeholders, including from nurses to senior management, and one common denominator we noticed was that they don’t have the luxury of time to do everything they ought to do.”
We cannot deny the heavy workload of nurses and doctors has a negative impact on patient safety. For example, fatigued care providers cannot focus on each and every patient, hindering personalised care. Digitalised quality processes help staff save time by increasing process efficiency, improving communication and personnel productivity. It helps to avoid errors and duplicates and provides a single source of truth.
How to get started
There are many ways by which a hospital can digitalise their Quality processes. They can build their own software in-house or buy a generic tool and customise it or buy purpose-built solutions. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, so they need to choose what suits them best because the digital transformation journey for every hospital is different.
The untold cost in this journey is the change management effort to lay out organisational changes and it involves planning and leading the people side of change within an organisation. So, the typical line of thinking is to retain the existing process and workflow and try to digitalise it as is.
While we understand why it seems convenient, it is more often than not an impedance to realising the full potential of such a system. It is often better to select a digital native workflow that is close to the existing practices or adopt a digital native workflow that follows industry best practices.
QUASR provide hospitals with a digitally native way of managing incidents. QUASR envisions to help hospitals digitalise their patient safety and quality processes. Soon to release “Lite” variant, a digital incident repository, QUASR’s value proposition is all about managing incidents in a digital way. They believe that it will pave the way for a digitally native risk management solution which then morphs into a proactive risk management solution. Doing this right means offering an effective, easy-to-use and affordable solution.