Effective use of technology to improve patient care. Does it call for a shift in culture?
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the uptake and adoption of new technologies to support health care delivery has been slow. This is evident by the continued use of manual registers and other paper-based tools. However, some facilities collect data using HMIS, EHRs, EMRs and mobile technology (m-Health) though their adoption is still minimal and application limited in a clinical set-up.
These technologies record, process, analyze and communicate data collected to improve decisions that contribute towards improved health/patient outcomes. The culture of information use is therefore not fully embraced in the health sector and its effect can be seen through the quality of health care service delivery provided.
Now that COVID-19 has ushered in a new era in digital health, it is imperative that health institutions shift the way they work in order to enhance their capability and capacity in collecting, managing and dissemination of health information to drive decisions. Additionally, these decisions have to be supported through collaboration, knowledge sharing and capacity building of health care providers so as to provide a holist approach to health care delivery.
Clinicians therefore need to understand the benefit of information/data-driven decisions in order to generate the desired impact of improved patient outcomes. These procedures require a cultural shift in thinking if they are to make a positive difference. While the pandemic may be pushing the healthcare industry to make this shift quickly, it will be interesting to see what happens after the pandemic and potential future outbreaks. The hope is that the new normal will include widespread digital health technology adoption because that will help improve patient care and achievement of better outcomes.