eHealth gathers pace
Legal requirements and economic considerations are driving eHealth forward in Swiss hospitals and care homes. But how advanced is the digital transformation in these institutions? Swisscom and MSM Research went to find out.
Text: Roger Welti, Picture
First, the good news: Something is afoot in the director’s offices and in the day-to-day life of Swiss hospitals, clinics and care homes. The topic of eHealth has arrived. The law-driven introduction of the electronic patient dossier (EPD) is not the only catalyst in action here. According to the new study “eHealth and ICT in Swiss healthcare 2017” (see text box), for 66% of the hospitals, clinics and care homes surveyed, eHealth means far more than just EPD – namely the digitalisation of all processes, ranging from data collection through data exchange to archiving.
Asked about their basic position on eHealth, some 28% of the institutions surveyed see themselves in a “leading role” in which they want to promote eHealth for other service providers. About one third are currently waiting to see what happens with eHealth and are observing the other players.
As a result, not many first movers can be found among the hospitals and care homes. This also has an effect on human resources in eHealth. Responsibility for eHealth is firmly established in only 41% of the institutions. In every fifth institution, there is at least a project team. Encouragingly, some 70% of respondents have defined their eHealth goals in a strategic plan or are working on such a plan.
Responsibility for eHealth is firmly established in only 41% of hospitals, clinics and care homes.
Increases in efficiency, agility and response times can be achieved through improved networking with other service providers, as Swiss hospitals and care homes have recognised. The potential yet to be exploited in this area is also very significant. Today, only 56% of respondents are networked with other hospitals and care centres, while 53% are networked with laboratories. Only 44%, 25% and 13% of institutions can communicate electronically with doctors, home carers and therapists respectively.
This need for action in institutions also influences the planning of ICT spending. Two key questions needs to be asked in this regard: Which parts of the ICT required will remain in the institution and be operated by it internally in the future? And in which area will external partners and services from the cloud be used more and more?
A glance at planned ICT spending in hospitals and care homes shows that a shift is taking place from internal operation to external services. In 2017, 60% of budgets are still being used for conventional ICT (internal operation) and 40% for managed services and the cloud. In 2019, 55% of ICT spending will go on external services. The institutions surveyed rely on strong partners when awarding these contracts. According to the study, service providers with sound expertise in healthcare processes, digitalisation skills and references from within Switzerland are highly sought after.
What is the goal of eHealth? The focus is on economic interests and better positioning in the market.
In collaboration with MSM Research, Swisscom Health has surveyed Swiss hospitals, clinics and care homes on the topics of eHealth and digitalisation. Additional surveys addressing ICT expenditure in the health care system were also evaluated. A white paper and an infographic were prepared based on the results and are available for download.
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