The future of digital health in our hospitals

The future of digital health in our hospitals

By Duane Bender, Chief Technology Officer, Hamilton Health Sciences

Online shopping, banking, food ordering and a thing called Uber. This is the digital age.

Has the Canadian health care sector caught up?

I have been a technologist my entire life. When I was a little kid I tried to understand electricity by taking apart live lamps and cutting batteries in half. I have all of the scars to prove it.

Looking under the hood of our most basic and complex technologies is something that keeps me going in my day-to-day work.

The digital health plan will improve the employee experience by introducing modern tools for safety and communications.

It’s this passion for technology innovation and a desire to make a positive impact on my community that led me to Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

An unlimited list of applications

We are one of the largest academic hospital systems in Canada. I envision us to be leaders in care delivery to people throughout the entire life cycle, supported by a wide range of patient-focused and clinical technologies.

My wish is for us to be a “learning health system,” continuously improving through the strategic collection and analysis of clinical evidence.

As Chief Technology Officer, I evaluate current industry trends such as mobile, wearable, cognitive computing and cloud technologies. All the fun toys consumers have experienced for years.

Hospitals exist in an age where the question, ‘Where is that really expensive piece of equipment right now?’ can be answered with real-time location-based services technology.

We have in-home monitoring solutions that would shorten hospital stays but we can still support people with great care through sensors and communication tools.

It’s an unlimited bank of opportunities that we can address with the right investments.

A digital health plan that improves your experience

Last year, HHS developed a digital health plan to map out the various improvements we want to make across our sites.

Every aspect of the plan will improve the way we deliver care. It was designed with that purpose as the central principle.

We are investing in digital technology in ways that will provide that experience to our community in the not-so-distant future.

From a patient perspective, we are currently piloting our new patient portal, which will improve communications with our patients by opening online access to their medical records.

The digital health plan will also improve the employee experience by introducing modern tools for safety and communications. This will enhance the mobile and wireless experience. Information will get to the right people at the right time.

We also plan to expand and improve our networks, including internet and Wi-Fi access that will lay the foundation for exciting applications to come.

If we execute the digital health plan, we will have modern IT systems that will enable a truly mobile workforce, provide timely information to patients and clinicians, and plant the seeds for advanced analytical capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

We are investing in digital technology in ways that will provide that experience to our community in the not-so-distant future.

Exciting days are ahead. Our patients, employees and physicians deserve a hospital system that works with the latest technology.