Working with change agents in a complex environment

No single communication campaign, technology or research project working in isolation will transform a sector or change behaviour

There are manycomplexproblems that still need to be tackled in the healthcare industry.However,many of them cannot be solved by throwing an app at it, especially when the fundamental building blocks for how we shareor use thedata are not all in place yet.

We can all agreetechnology continues to be acatalyst for change, particularly in the healthcare sector.There are manycomplexproblems that still need to be tackled in the healthcare industry.However,many of them cannot be solved by throwing an app at it, especially when the fundamental building blocks for how we shareor use thedata are not all in place yet.

Technologyis an enabler but it's not the only factor in influencing change.

Technologycancertainlybe the catalyst for change, but it is essential to have a robust change management processrunning alongside the technology, that relies heavily on people who are willing to actas 'change agents'.

The healthcare IT sectoris renowned for being complicatedand littered with lengthy and expensive IT projects. This is often exacerbated by overworked clinicians, stretched budgetsand a risk-averse approach to embracingchange.To be fair, thisispartly due to the complexity of the healthcare environment and the fact it’s a 24x7 mission critical service which simply cannot afford to be down due to a technical failure. High standards of compliance, privacy and integration is a necessity.

We’re fortunate in New Zealand that we have a deep commitment to a public health system.Butit isunder immense pressure and much of the time it ends up asthe ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

Like so many other countries, New Zealand is trying tomitigatethepressure onthe healthcare systemby giving health professionals the data and tools to reach people early, through preventative measures, avoiding the huge costs associated with picking people up once they arrive at hospital.

This is where technology can help. We are now able to collect the data we need, through new devices and apps, to start using it for prediction and where possible to put in place measures for intervention of patients. We know what is needed to solve the problem, and technology can help us get there.

Tech developers and clinicians are both problem solvers. It is essential that software developers continue to work closely alongside clinicians to ensure they solve problems together, through an aligned vision and goals.

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Tech developers and clinicians are both problem solvers. It is essential that software developers continue to work closely alongside clinicians to ensure they solve problems together,Kate Reid, Orion Health

Healthcare systems around the world are trying to get their heads aroundhow toapplyadvanced technology such asmachine learning and data science to help identify those peoplemost atrisk.The technologiesexisttoday, however the funding mechanisms and change processesin thedeliveryof healthcarehave not evolved as quickly.

People and technology working together

CanterburyDistrict HealthBoardhas set up their health system to look at the patient first, consideringthe outcome rather than the care setting.This has meant putting in place funding that focuses on achieving the best outcome for each individual.It is the epitome of how a health system should work, providing data and knowledgeforhealthcare professionalstointervene withpatientsearly,putting the necessary care around them to keep them well in their own homes and out of hospital.

Canterburyispaving the way for other industries through combining technology enablers with business intelligence and service redesign, recognising that technologyneedsto be accompanied by the rightpeople totruly make a difference.

My fatherlives in Christchurch, hehas atrialfibrillationand type 2 diabetes,making himahigh-riskpatient according to the healthcare system.Hewas struggling with hiscocktail of medicines, and really needed more support with what medicines to take, when and how.

The medicines management programme developed by pharmacists, software developers and local healthcare professionals was the technology enabler that ensured the right information was available for the pharmacy team to support my dad’s needs.

Working through this with my dad made it clear to me where the connection points need to be, in this case between the hospital, pharmacist and patient. This is where technology can be particularly useful, to ensure the patient is a more informed participant in the care they receive.

By connecting these points, technology can help people solve problems. Not just in healthcare, but in other industries, it is this collaboration between like-minded teams with diversity of perspective and expertise, that will allow technology to help them achieve their goals.

The collaboration that was involved in designing the Canterbury Health System has enabled my dad to be a change agent for his own health outcomes.

With the support ofan outstandingteam of clinicians, together they could access relevant data about him when he needed it and where he needed it. Instead of waiting for him to arrive at the emergency department to intervene with his medications, this was done in his home. For me thisisapersonal and daily reminder of the impacttechnology can have onaperson’s quality of life. Seeing theseoutcomes makes me even more determined to be a change agent for positive health outcomes here inNew Zealand.

I have come to understand thatno singlecommunication campaign, technology or research projectworking in isolationwilltransform a sectoror change behaviour. It’s the collaboration between teams with a shared vision and purpose that will make the biggest difference and allow change to flourish in an industry.

Kate Reid is GM Orion Health New Zealand.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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