When the system hampers innovation in healthcare

25 Feb
Sandra Bruna

It often occurs that old habits, bureaucracy and certain fossilized procedures hamper the chances that innovative projects, which have been proven effective for patients, may be extended from one organisation to another. Which are the causes that lead to this situation? And which tools can be offered to professionals?

This was one of the issues on the table in the session “Innovation in management: what are the keys to success?” organised last February 17th by the Catalan Society of Healthcare Management (SCGS) and the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS).

The event, which was chaired by the director of the Catalan Health System Observatory, Anna García-Altés, counted with the participation of the coordinator of the Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management in Catalonia (OIGS), Montse Moharra, the head of the Anaesthesiology Department of Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Domingo Blanco, and the founder and Global Business Development Manager of Doctoralia, Frederic Llordachs.

Domingo Blanco described the experience of the online pre-surgery programme started in 2006 by Hospital de Viladecans, which since has proven that not only unnecessary consultations in the centre can be reduced when planning a surgery, but it also helps avoiding repeated tests.

The team led by Dr Blanco, who is presently striving to extend this experience, is dodging some obstacles, such as the difficulty of gathering the patient’s complete clinical record. “There is no unified clinical record, there are difficulties to connect primary care and the hospital, and there still is a lot of fragmentation”, he admitted.

Despite the great savings for the healthcare system obtained with this online programme, it is far from being generalised. He hints at the reason. “There is a resistance against change, and the enemies of innovation are healthcare professionals themselves. We lack courage and also the support from organisations”, he added.

OIGS, a place to share innovation in healthcare

Within the structure of AQuAS, healthcare professionals can find the Observatory of Innovation in Healthcare Management in Catalonia, a space to share innovative experiences in management, fostering a collaborative environment and the exchange of knowledge.

The OIGS currently includes 180 innovative experiences that have already been implemented in the health system, and have generated change, and which can also be transferred, as well as 37 certified experiences, as explained by its coordinator, Montse Moharra.

The OIGS also offers a place for learning on innovation in management, with more than 600 professionals participating, an assessment quality certification procedure for the experiences, and the identification of strategic alliances and good practice.

The use of ICTs and the ePatient

The founder of Doctoralia, Frederic Llordachs made an appeal for the participation of healthcare professionals and to anticipate the patients’ needs thanks to the use of ICTs, in a world where 80% of the population has an Internet ready mobile device.

“Patients do already demand that you schedule their visits using WhatsApp, and they look up health topics on the Internet. We are talking about an increasingly more empowered ePatient, who wants to be the centre, who demands autonomy in decision-making and who is more and more expert,” he pointed.

25% of users search the Internet for information on healthcare topics, and 35% of people in Spain use the web to schedule visits with healthcare professionals, while they forsake other media, such as the telephone. Within this setting, Llordachs advocated to jump the obstacles, and that healthcare professionals themselves generate the change.

A contributor from the audience stated the need to guarantee transparency and to include innovation projects in result-based services purchases, and also in the writing of healthcare agreements.

At the time of carrying out an innovative project, a key element is that it originates from a need, that it is placed under a continuous improvement, and that it is eventually assessed, to test its results and possible benefits.

Post written by Gemma Bruna (@gemmabruna), journalist specialised in health and head of Communications of the Catalan Society of Healthcare Management (@gestiosanitaria).

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