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Digital care is the buzz phrase of the modern practice and Hicom Technology, a firm that specialises in client-specific software to the healthcare industry, is one of the IT providers leading the charge. Medical Times quizzes director John Sanderson on the future on paperless care in the Middle East.

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By  Administrator Published  February 6, 2008

Digital care is the buzz phrase of the modern practice and Hicom Technology, a firm that specialises in client-specific software to the healthcare industry, is one of the IT providers leading the charge. Medical Times quizzes director John Sanderson on the future on paperless care in the Middle East.

What role will IT have to play in the growth of healthcare in the Middle East?

In one of the world's fastest growing healthcare economies, electronic health records are essential in ensuring that healthcare facilities can provide optimum care to the patient.

The use of software for patient management not only helps streamline practices, but can have a positive influence on the quality of care.

Ensuring access to up-to-date information at the point of care is crucial for informed clinical decision-making and for enhancing patient education.

With correct local and regional strategies, electronic health records can not only be used to support the management of patient care locally, but they can inform regional health strategies by the aggregation of common healthcare data.

Does a healthcare facility need to be a certain size before it feels the benefits of updated medical software?

The right healthcare software used in the correct way can significantly improve management in any healthcare facility, irrespective of size. Unfortunately, a number of software products on the market have been developed to a prescribed patient care model and, as such, local operating practices are restricted.

When considering software, physicians must be able to identify quantifiable and measurable benefits to the business - in terms of improved administration and cost saving; and to the patient, in terms of enhanced education and care.

Too often, software is not considered an investment but a capital overhead, with the choice significantly influenced by budget. However, the right software chosen for the benefits it can offer to the physician and patient can have a significant impact on performance and pay for itself in a short period of time.

What are the benefits of practice-specific software?

The use of practice-specific software in a clinical setting enables an multidisciplinary healthcare team to administer the best possible patient care. Staff can access the patient's care plan, diagnosis and treatment schedules, clinical notes and clinical information in real time and at the point of patient care.

Hicom's Enterprise solution, for example, provides end-to-end patient care in a paperless environment, supported by full integration with medical diagnostic devices and third party software.

Having access to relevant data as soon as it is available - and without the need for transcription - cuts the paper burden and shortens the time from investigation to diagnosis. This, in turn, improves the quality of critical data and enhances clinical decision-making.

What impact can software programmes have on revenue?

Correct use of the right software system can improve profitability in a number of ways. Direct improvements can be derived from increased patient throughput (a by-product of more effective healthcare management) and effective cost management achieved by improved care planning and decision support.

Specially designed, fully-integrated software solutions can be used to develop and support streamlined patient and administrative workflows, for optimum, cost-effective patient treatment in short timeframes.

Indirect improvements to the bottom line can also be achieved by providing the best possible experience to the patient. No one sells a service better than a satisfied customer.

In what areas of healthcare will IT have the greatest influence over the next decade?

Historically, healthcare software solutions have been used in the back office as retrospective data collection facilities. In recent years, these have been used more frequently in real time and at the point of patient care.

The development of secure web-based patient portals will enable patients to upload information, such as blood glucose results, and to access their own health records.

Over the next few years, we expect to see the point-of-care principal develop further to incorporate more powerful decision-support tools to help clinicians determine the most suitable course of action appropriate to a specific patient's diagnosis, health status and care requirements.

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