Saturday October 31, 2020

Digital health services have been deployed and used successfully

‘I believe that access to healthcare services will evolve into the digital age’ says Dave O’Shaughnessy MSc – Avaya Healthcare Solutions Consultant

7th October, 2020

What's your name and what position do you hold?

Dave O’Shaughnessy MSc – Avaya Healthcare Solutions Consultant (EMEA & APAC)

What are your day to day responsibilities?

Since I cover both the APAC and EMEA regions, my days can start pretty early speaking to our healthcare customers and partners from New Zealand all the way across to Ireland, listening to and understanding their business and operational problems, challenges, and suggestions – they will regularly have the best ideas for adapting technology in healthcare and it’s up to us to adapt to their proposals.

What is your professional background?

I have an BSc in Computer Applications from Waterford IT, and an MSc in Innovation Management from UCD, and have been in Avaya for over 16 years, responsible for the healthcare vertical business. It might sound like a cliché, but I honestly am in a job I love and greatly appreciate, with the opportunity to learn about and then work to solve challenging business problems that can directly help our healthcare organisations - that in itself is very rewarding.

How do you think the healthcare sector is coping with the Covid-19 crisis?

I’ve heard it said that dealing with Covid-19 (this novel coronavirus) is like “learning to fly a full Airbus A380 plane while in the air” and I’d imagine this is similar to how our healthcare sector has been dealing with the health and lives of the nation’s people during this unprecedented time.

I personally struggle to fathom, but immensely admire and appreciate, the enormous individual and organisational responsibilities and associated pressures those men and women in our health services have taken on and brilliantly deal with. It’s immense human resilience that deserves huge recognition and equally huge reward.

Never before (unfortunately) have the public had a higher degree of admiration and greater appreciation for the healthcare sector and its staff, and there has never been a better time to invest and innovate in digital health services to help the sector evolve towards the service we need it to be.

What lasting impact do you see on healthcare delivery?

I believe that access to healthcare services will evolve into the digital age. Like so many of us in this industry had envisioned, it could do so had there been the proper investment, suitable training, and user adoption.

There is a famous chart developed by the analyst firm Gartner called the ‘Hype-Cycle’ to chart the path that new technological innovations often take, and for many of us in the digital health sector over many years, the innovations around virtual health / teleHealth were somewhere between the Peak of Inflated Expectations and Trough of Disillusionment, struggling for sufficient investment and adoption to move forward to their productive value on the curve.

Now, due to the restrictions imposed on access to and delivery of healthcare services due to Covid-19, the service has been forced to adapt and adopt new ways of working, new ways to deliver healthcare services. In our brief experience so far this year, once such digital health services have been deployed and used successfully by healthcare staff and their patients, it has resulted in a very frequent response of “why hadn’t we done this before? / This is so much easier and faster / we’re never going back to the old format”.

This, for me, is a practical example of the beneficial impact of the evolution of healthcare services delivery during the pandemic.

How do you see tech innovation transforming healthcare? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?

If we can empower the patient to have access to and an understanding and control of their complete health data supported with intelligent analytics backed up with appropriate artificial Intelligence algorithms, that will be a very productive transformation of healthcare services.

What do you think are the key challenges are in the digital transformation of the health service?

Evolving digital technology around the healthcare service and processes, not the other way around.

Healthcare services are understandably conservative and slow to change. This truly is the only service where if the implementation of technology goes wrong, it really could be a case of life and death consequences.

I’ve seen disastrous deployment of digital technology in healthcare where clinical staff found the new processes required with that technology significantly hindered their ability to do their jobs and provide care to the patient, so the adoption and effectiveness of the technology was a complete failure, and users learned how to quickly by-pass the steps to get the process completed.

Listen, listen, and then finally and carefully listen again to the stakeholders as to what is important to them in delivery of and access to such services, then work to adapt the technology into that service to ensure usability and adoption.

What will be the leading trends in healthcare in the coming years and how will patients and providers need to adapt?

Hopefully, like one of my previous responses, it will be the empowerment of the patient to take proactive ownership of their health and wellbeing.

In addition to the patient having access to their own health data, expanding the communication channels between the patient and the healthcare service so that the patient can contact and collaborate with the most appropriate healthcare staff member to take the best steps forward will also be important for successful technology adoption.

For example, imagine a patient suffering from a psychiatric illness and needs to speak with a skilled psychiatric nurse to discuss their issue. Imagine offering the option to such a patient to initiate a confidential instant chat session with a nurse to discuss their concerns or issues, and then enabling the nurse to seamlessly escalate that session to a voice or even video call without breaking the patient contact or trust. Making such technologies easy, adaptable, and intuitive will be critical to successful adoption

Dave will be speaking at the 2020 Virtual Smart Health Summit on October 22nd.

For more information visit www.smarthealthsummit.ie

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