Saturday 24 October, 2020

Insurance boss sees opportunity in digitisation of healthcare records

President of Fraser, Fontaine and Kong Insurance Brokers, Gerard Fontaine, has expressed the opportunity to leverage digital solutions to overcome many of the inefficiencies in the local healthcare sector.

President of Fraser, Fontaine and Kong Insurance Brokers, Gerard Fontaine, has expressed the opportunity to leverage digital solutions to overcome many of the inefficiencies in the local healthcare sector.

Popular cartoons such as ‘The Jetsons’ had long predicted that the future would bring outlandish inventions like commercialised robots, jetpacks, and flying cars.

However, they were also filled with more realistic predictions that have become realities in our current age, including virtual newspapers, mobile computers (that is laptops, tablets, etc.) and a well-developed network infrastructure to keep them all connected.

Inventions like these make our daily lives easier and more efficient, so why aren’t these being capitalized upon in important service industries such as healthcare?

Services provided within the healthcare sector stand to gain several benefits from the implementation of technologies at the data collection stage.

Healthcare, both globally and locally, has seen massive technological advances, as evidenced in the use of 3D printers by Civillian’s Response to make personal protective equipment and ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there is underwhelming evidence of a unified, wide-scale digitisation of healthcare records for patients that is accessible by all players of the industry.

The importance of updating and digitising social services was referenced by both leaders of the two major political parties during the recent national debates.

President of Fraser, Fontaine and Kong Insurance Brokers, Gerard Fontaine, has expressed the opportunity to leverage digital solutions to overcome many of the inefficiencies in the local healthcare sector.

“Here in Jamaica, we experience challenges with the accessibility of persons’ health records. Today’s challenges with traditional storage are exacerbated when patients switch health care providers, get emergency treatments, or see specialists as needs arise. The result is haphazard segmentation of patient information, stored in unstandardized formats and held by individual parties which make it a difficult task when trying to understand a patient’s entire health history,” Fontaine said.

However, with the application of digital technology, Fontaine said the company can shorten the time it takes for patients to receive treatment and medicine by automating many processes, reducing the unnecessary steps.

“A comprehensive real-time database of our medical history allows us the power to choose which medical practitioners can access our unique records. By having our entire health records at our fingertips, we can save a tremendous amount of time, transport, money and quite possibly, lives,” the insurance broker said.

As the society moves towards capitalising on technology based skills and knowledge, it is imperative that this be implemented as quickly as possible with patient data.

At present, there are possible vulnerabilities that come from a long wait time or inaccurate information from patients. For example, if your pharmacist would like to know what other medication has been previously prescribed to you to treat your condition before fulfilling your present prescription, they should be able to access your health history to verify.

All it would require is the patient’s consent, and a network that could facilitate such a request. This same scenario could be applied to sonographers, gynaecologists, pathologists and any other medical practitioner who would benefit from viewing a patient’s historical diagnoses.

Nariman Bharucha, Chief Executive Officer of MegaMart Jamaica, has spoken about the implications of digitization for local pharmacies.

“Digitisation of the healthcare sector is one of the hot topics which everybody has been talking about for long with simply no action taken so far. With that said, we should be mindful of data security and data privacy related to data management, as health data is the most sensitive information and personal to every patient,” she Bharucha  said.

This, among other things, must be taken into consideration and guaranteed, so that the sector in its entirety can thrive. It would also help us to improve service levels and manage our operations and inventory, in a far better way. It will facilitate pharmacies being able to store all the data securely, Bharucha continued.

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