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RE: Driving Digital Innovation in the Public Health Sector

The article by Dr Paul Eleftheriou “Driving Digital Innovation in the Public Health Sector” is a very relevant topic for current times.
With attention on the ageing population in Australia, and the importance of health to Australians as evidenced by recent public debates around the GP co-payment, we can see that there are driving forces towards a safer, efficient and cost-effective health care. Compounding these are financial pressures with projections from the National Commission of Audit suggesting a rise in healthcare spend from $65 billion in 2013-14 to $120 billion in 2023-24 (National Commission of Audit).
Increasingly, we are seeing the health care sector turning towards technology and use of electronic systems to improve efficiency and safety. The use of glossy brochures, high tech animations and presentations tempt us towards a clean, futuristic view of health care. However voices amongst the frontline are at times a distant reminder of the reality of conceptualising an electronic system and then applying it in the complex setting of healthcare.
Arguably the most important electronic manifestation is in the form of an electronic health record. In a study of patients presenting with non-traumatic chest pain in the emergency setting, the documentation time was 6.1 minutes for paper, and 9.6 minutes for electronic documentation (Perry et al, 2014). Others have warned about introducing a new set of risks (Raposo, 2014), and there have been cases of medication error directly attributable to an error in the electronic medical record ordering set (Furmaga, Wax, Kleinschmidt, 2015). 
However, the use of electronic systems opens us up to the world of possibilities within big data (Lesley, Shmerling, 2015) and the potential for real-world monitoring and trials (Elkhenini et al., 2015). 
Dr Eleftheriou's article presents a balanced and measured approach to digital innovation. Frequently the success of an electronic system is much more than the program itself, but rather in the implementation, education and ongoing support of people that follows.
As the eminent body for physician leadership and management in Australia, RACMA should continue to be a strong leader and advocate in the evolving discipline of health informatics.
Dr Christopher Tan
Furmaga J1, Wax P, Kleinschmidt K. (2015). N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)-Induced Hyponatremia Caused by an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Order Error. Journal of Medical Toxicology. Sep;11(3):355-8.
Lesley, W.S., Shmerling, S. (2015). RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF DATA MINING THE ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORD. Physician leadership journal. 2015 Jul-Aug;2(4):40-5.
National Commission of Audit. A pathway to reforming reforming health care. Retrieved on 10th April 2017 at http://www.ncoa.gov.au/report/phase-one/part-b/7-3-a-pathway-to-reforming-health-care.html
Perry JJ, Sutherland J, Symington C, Dorland K, Mansour M, Stiell IG.(2014). Assessment of the impact on time to complete medical record using an electronic medical record versus a paper record on emergency department patients: a study. Emergency Medicine Journal. Dec;31(12):980-5.
Raposo VL. (2015). Electronic health records: Is it a risk worth taking in healthcare delivery? GMS Health Technology Assessment. Dec 10;11:Doc02


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 June 2017 11:17