HIT in Asia: Highlights from the 2016 HMA Conference

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The annual Hospital Management Asia (HMA) conference brings together hospital and healthcare managers from across the Asia Pacific region to share best practices and ideas for quality improvement. Healthcare information technology (HIT) is always an important component of those discussions.

The 2016 event in Vietnam brought together 1,130 attendees representing 304 hospitals from 33 countries. Among the speakers was Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information innovator Dr. Raj Gopalan, who answered questions about HIT in Asia now and in the future. A segment from his session was released on video to share with the greater healthcare community.

HIT Trends in Asia

In his talk, Gopalan said he was “very optimistic about (HIT’s) potential in Asia.”

Still, there is a long way to go, Gopalan noted, especially for the many Asian hospitals still using paper charting. Part of the HIT adoption process in Asia will be finding techniques to “bridge the gap” between paper and paperless. Until an EMR with clinical decision support is up and running, Gopalan advised that healthcare professionals encourage patients to bring medications with them to the hospital or take smartphone pictures of their pills and pill bottles. These can function as a low-tech medication list to help clinicians review potential drug interactions and avoid harmful medication errors until a more sophisticated HIT system is in place.

Gopalan added that he expects Asia to “catch up” quickly when it comes to HIT. “In the West, we took a long time to mature some of those technologies,” he explained. “In Asia, we can literally take that and adopt it much faster. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Whatever has worked in the West can be immediately adopted here.”

Another trend he expects to see is growth in telemedicine. Asia tends to have greater access to HIT in urban areas. Telemedicine practices, such as video conferencing and online consultations, will help connect rural patients with urban-based specialists they might otherwise not be able to see.

One of the high points of attending HMA for Gopalan was becoming more familiar with the unique healthcare landscapes in different countries and regions in Asia. “It’s not one big country like the U.S.!” He added that it was interesting to observe each country's differences and inspiring to find strong collaboration and exchange of information between them, despite those differences.

Watch the full video.

Focus on Patient Experience

Among the other speakers at the conference was Paula Wilson of Joint Commission International (JCI), a body that promotes healthcare quality and offers accreditations to hospitals worldwide. Currently, JCI has accredited more than 900 organizations in more than 60 countries.

Wilson addressed HMA on the hot topic of improving patient experience. Her remarks were also shared on video.

Patient experience has three main components, she noted:

  • Respect
  • Partnership
  • Shared decision making

A successful patient experience improves engagement. “When patients are engaged and really paying attention to their own health and their own healthcare, we know that they comply with medical treatment plans much more frequently. They abide by lifestyle changes that contribute to their health over time,” Wilson said. “So experience brings in engagement, engagement gets the patient much more involved in their own healthcare, and as a result of that, the outcomes are better, and actually, the care costs less.”

She advised health systems to add a Chief Experience Officer (or CXO) to their c-suites to help oversee efforts to improve patient wait time, personal interactions with staff, and understanding of their care. As one way to create transparency and to incentivize healthcare staff to provide a higher level patient experience, she cited the American practice of HCAHPS surveys. The data derived from these patient satisfaction questionnaires is published online, so any potential patients/consumers can review various hospitals’ scores before choosing where to seek care. Additionally, American hospitals receive financial incentives to achieve a certain level of HCAHPS score.

While a better patient experience is obviously meant to benefit the patient, Wilson noted that it can only be achieved by creating an environment that benefits healthcare professionals, particularly nurses. Hospitals need to create “radical convenience” for staff, she said, and referred to the “90-5 rule:” 90% of what a nurse needs to do his or her job should take no more than 5 seconds to get. The convenience of having tools and information at their fingertips saves nurses time that, cumulatively, allows them to devote substantially more of their day to being at the patient bedside and providing direct care.

Watch the full video.

Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information will be attending HMA 2017 in the Philippines in August. Learn more about the conference.

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