5 TAKEAWAYS | The Future of Healthcare Panel Discussion
When a once in 100 year pandemic strikes, the pressure if obviously most felt by those on the frontline. How will this impact the future design of our healthcare technology and IT infrastructures? Is Telehealth here to stay? What are the priorities for in person care? We discussed all this and more at the Integrate Virtual Speaker Series. If you missed the session or would like a recap of the session check out our 5 takeaways below!
1. Operating Theatre or Classroom?
“Today’s operating theatre is no longer a theatre,” opened Myke Ireland from InSight Systems, “It’s a classroom.” AV technology may have enabled clinicians to dial in international specialists to aid and consult within theatre, even allow remote access cameras, and equipment to assist, but is the rapid roll-out of telehealth systems that has taught the healthcare community in Australia that there’s still much more to learn.
For some in the AV industry it was their ‘I told you so’ moment, and required a massive effort to mobilise the health system. according to Ireland, the AV industry is is built on mobility and inter-connectedness, but can AV replicate or even replace the emotion of being seeing the doctor in person?
2. Keeping it personal
At the heart of the clinical interaction is the doctor-patient relationship and it is crucial, with the subject matter the definition of personal, that any technological roll-out match the sense of connection you would get in an appointment.
“Hospitals have traditionally invested heavily in the clinical care of their patients but the importance of technology shouldn’t be forgotten,” The Royal Children’s Hospital CIO, Michelle Rennie commented. The RCH has undertaken a rapid deployment of teleheath and remote online collaboration tools since the pandemic was declared in March, but she says there’s still more investment required if the RCH and other health institutions like it can truly benefit from advance in health and av technology. “We have a big road ahead to get ready for the tech of the future, ” Rennie added.
Audio is one area that continues to be chronic symptom of healthcare AV with Ireland warning audio has been given the least amount of attention when it’s the most important part of the AV partnership, “The video can drop out, but without the audio, telehealth will fall over.”
And it’s not just the patients that need the connection provided by AV systems, staff and clinicians need to keep their institutions running and that is a workplace shift, none of them anticipated.
3. Clinical Cultural Changes
Working remotely may not seem an abstract concept for many workforces, but the pandemic has challenged clinicians to rethink how they practice. The rise of telehealth is just one part of this pandemic puzzle with hospital board meetings, and consultations now required to move to online collaboration tools, mobile devices and new technology platforms.
“I was surprised by the reluctance of clinicians to embrace new technology and working in a new way,” Rennie observed, but she also said that this rethinking of their roles is shifting the technology away from meeting the clinicians’ needs to back to focus on the patient.
James Kellas from Pro AV Solutions also questioned whether we have really seen the full deployment of telehealth, and whether this virtual engagement will last, once we have a vaccine and life, returns to ‘normal’ but encouraged health professionals to make the most of the tools now so that they weren’t tempted to fall back on old habits once the crisis has abated.
“Clinicians should use this time to familiarise themselves with the new technology at hand as much as they can and be as creative as they can. That way once we move beyond Covid they will be better informed of the technologies out there.”
4. Setting Healthy Standards
Can we create a standard for AV in operating theatres? Are we there yet from a technology perspective?
Ireland certainly thinks we can, citing recent installations of fully integrated theatres, but highlighted that to facilitate a national wide role out we would need to standardise the platforms to allow for fluidity of clinicians working across both the private and public sectors and create some industry standards, like DANTE for audio and other AVoIP platforms.
Kellas added that as AV technicians we’re often adapting technology to suit the specific needs of our region, so a more universal platform would allow for the easier modifications, but that the sector was hindered by funding. He also discussed how integrators and health professionals alike could learn for our remote and regional communities, who, he said, displayed some of the best examples of teleheath deployment.
Yet, while this agility in the proliferation of health tech will largely be driven by software development, the AV industry still needs to consider that much of the hardware in the market is still yet to be certified for clinical use.
5. AV’s obligation for better patient outcomes
Rennie said that AV’s role in health outcomes has never been more prominent role, and that the technology experiences it can and is providing are leading to better patient care. Yet with it comes a responsibility to ensure that IT and AV departments are investing for future innovation.
Wearable tech is an area that Ireland highlighted as a possible channel for the future, and an area that could excite potential investment. “We’ve already seen other countries adopt synergies with wearable tech to obtain health data, such as heart monitoring via Apple watches, or Google glasses that take live-streamed health reading, or augmented reality in theatres…but we’re still a long way from that being the norm here.”
Kellas, on the other hand, wants to see more innovation in overhead, whether they be to help monitor patients in hospital wards or to provide better viewing positions, or ‘over the shoulder’ views or assisting remote clinicians.
While Rennie, who is at the coalface of the synergy between health and av on a daily basis, would like us to see closer collaboration between the medical and technology minds in our industries so that we can continue to develop and implement technology to live healthier after the pandemic and for a long time to come.
Michelle Rennie, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
James Kellas, Pro AV Solutions
Myke Ireland, InSight Systems Group
A big thank you to our speakers for being a part of an Integrate first.