Information ; it’s not hide and seek

22 October 2014

As Francis Bacon once said ‘Knowledge is power’, that’s great but it is rare that any one person can know something and complete any action by themselves. It usually requires a team or teams of people around them to assist in the completion of tasks associated with the knowledge that something needs doing. This is particularly prevalent in Healthcare, with such a wide variety of specialty teams, various providers / commissioners etc. that need to work together for the benefit of the local population.

The problem is that evidence based knowledge, more often than not, needs to be sought from a system or application of some description. The information can be presented in the most amazing way with modern infographics displaying multiple metrics or simple Excel Spreadsheet displaying a run chart with SPC (if someone wants this on a graph but can’t answer what SPC stands for, then say no!) but at the end of the day, someone has to go looking for this.

I’ll give you a prime example of how this can change; I’m currently in the process of moving house and using an online Solicitor. Every time I need to complete one of the hundreds of forms I get an automated text alert that tells me what I need to do and how I need to do it. Why doesn’t this work for healthcare informatics? Why should we rely on people to go looking for something when what we should actually be doing is notifying that something is changing, where they can look and what they can do about it?

At EKBI, we have just finished a pilot project around exactly this. Using our live A&E report we have created push alerts which notify site operational teams when a ‘critical mass’ of patients are in the department which then leads to a compromise in performance. This has been phased over the 24 hour period to allow for pinch points and will notify them of; how many patients are in the department, that the alert has been raised and (most importantly) the first three stages of the escalation policy. We are working with other staff groups to also alert on different areas, for example an automated alert goes to our dementia team when a patient arrives in A&E, no manual entry just using existing technology to alert them team. And why do we do this? Because it has been proven to have a demonstrable impact on the patient outcome. Clinicians shouldn’t have to look for information, that’s our job; they should / must be given the ability to be notified of something significant so that they can make the difference.

Chris Green