Healthcare - GESPAG
Currently a lot of effort is undertaken to “electronify” the entire paperwork in hospitals for several reasons. This trend is not just reinforced by the prospective cost savings. By virtue of the demographic development there are a potentially increasing number of patients and a strong demand for better services in the publicly funded healthcare sector. There is also an increase of frequency of expensive chronic disease and many other costs for many treatment paths. Wearables can assist rebalance the demand for high quality of care vs. flat budgets.
A throughout solution for electronic patient records and all other data in hospitals would enable things, that were not possible before, e.g. the recording and examination of workflows to streamline operations and the comparison of the productivity in different departments. In order to dill with time pressure, piles of paper, insufficient computer support and extensive post-processing work due to media breaks, it seems that providing doctors and nurses with a more efficient information access and enabling them to make immediate documentation of new information is crucial. Wearable technology combined with technology coming from the pervasive computing domain (sensors, actuators etc.) do have a high potential for being one piece of the solution. E-Health systems will allow doctors to collaborate more easily with colleagues around the world and patients will gain better control over their treatment when able to monitor its status online.
WearIT can contribute to health care systems by enhancement of:
Access to patient information: Computerizing all information regarding the patient is highly needed in hospital, where the patients are many and most of the professional staff handling each patient changes frequently. That is one reason why wearable computer is a preferable solution- not only it provides all the information in one place and one format, it also brings information availability to a higher level.
Time: Using wearable computers saves nurses and doctors time. During the ward round, the doctor uses information about the patients’ medical history (if he/she is unknown to the doctor), the current state of health, and about the results of recent examinations and laboratory analyses. Gathering this information is a substantial time consuming task. Further, the patient has to be examined and diagnosed, and decisions must be made about the next steps in the treatment. The necessary examinations, medications, laboratory analyses and physical therapies must be ordered. All decisions taken and all directions made have to be documented. The time pressure during the ward round is often very strong. Sometimes up to 14-15 patients have to be processed within 20 minutes, preserving quality of care and a personal relation to the patients. Using the current work flow and information processing methods, there is also a great deal of post processing work to be taken care of after the ward round is finished. Often, it takes a long time for the information to be entered into the computer system for access by others. The daily battle with time during the ward round and the slow and sometimes inaccurate information processing is a serious problem for doctors and nurses.
Communication with patients: One of the most important factors that influence the use of the wearable system is the significance of a positive patient contact. The patient is the central point of the ward round. It is the doctor’s intention to have a personal contact with the patient and to be able to look her in the eye when talking, whether he is asking about her current state, explaining diagnoses or upcoming examinations or just making small talk. The personal contact between doctor and patient is important in order to assure the patient the greatest amount of humanity possible, something that otherwise easily gets lost in the well-oiled machinery of hospital business. Due to the constant time pressure, the time the doctor has for each patient is very short. The patient should, to the greatest extent possible, have the feeling it was spent interacting with him/her as a person and not with technical devices. In that sense, by saving time, wearable computers enhance doctor's ability to spend time with the patient. Moreover, due to its unique character of being with it's user but as an essential part of his clothing items, wearable computers allows increase of information flow with minimum disturbance to communication.