HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, has awarded Savonlinna a noteworthy international prize for its best practices in healthcare IT - the first hospital in Finland to receive such recognition. The central hospital's IT entity was classed as stage six on a seven-point rating scale. In Europe 15 hospitals have achieved the same level.
The key elements of the hospital's IT system are supplied by Tieto. According to Ari Pätsi, Chief Information Officer, East Savo Hospital District, the goal has been that every IT purchase supports high quality patient care. The international recognition demonstrates that Savonlinna's IT systems are on a high level.
"Patient care processes rely on jointly agreed models of operation and electronic data transfer," Head Physician, Emergency Medicine, Information Management Physician Tuija Kallio explains.
Key words: compatibility, process support and user-centeredness
The foundations for development of the IT system were laid in 2002. Comprehensiveness, support for processes and user-centeredness were set as the main objective. Data stored in the system should be used actively not just in patient care, but also in managing and further developing the hospital operations.
"Data is fed into the system just once. Thereafter it is at the immediate disposal of all parties," Pätsi continues.
The introduction of applications has been conducted one piece at a time, anticipating changes in the operating environment, including electronic medical records, referrals and regulations, structural recording, imaging and laboratory, medication tools, a common database for basic healthcare and specialised healthcare, electronic prescriptions and decision support.
"Management has given its full support to user-centered information management. Here in Savonlinna the importance of collaboration between information management and those involved in clinical work has been understood from the start," Tuija Kallio underlines.
Development of the hospital information system entity is a continuous process, which is founded on active, real-time observation of the organisation's operations. Tuija Kallio points out that healthcare professionals need to actively take part in the development of the hospital information system, and IT management in turn needs to understand its important role as a support service.
"Development ideas have to come from the users. In Savonlinna cooperation between information management and users has been smooth throughout the years," says Kallio.
In Ari Pätsi's view it is a very good thing that the users of the patient data system are demanding. "It motivates us in IT management, too, to always demand the most user-friendly solution. When weighing up different solutions, the ability to judge what best serves the organisation as a whole is key," Pätsi ventures.
According to Tuija Kallio the most important change has definitely been the merging of the primary healthcare and secondary healthcare databases in spring 2011.
"Primary healthcare and secondary healthcare patient databases should be jointly managed in each and every municipality and city. I can see a patient's complete history in one go. The fact that any data entered into the system is immediately at the disposal of other care professionals involved in the patient's treatment is a significant asset. For example, up-to-date medication data makes the work of the joint emergency service much more efficient," Kallio stresses.
Quality care at every moment
Where the joint emergency service is concerned it is absolutely vital from a patient care perspective that up-to-date information passes smoothly between the different sub-systems. At Savonlinna central hospital single sign-on is also in use, which allows applications to open in a centralised manner, for example, for the use of the Head Physician in the Emergency department.
"If I'm asked to consult on a patient's treatment, I'm able to go over his or her care history immediately and enter instructions for the care professionals involved in treating the patient. Irrespective of whether the patient is a primary or secondary healthcare customer, details of medication, laboratory answers and X-rays are always at my disposal," Kallio explains.
In addition, without an all-embracing patient data system the regional telephone helpline serving patients would also not be possible.
"Via the helpline nurses are able to provide hundreds of patients a day with quality care now that they have patient data centrally available," Kallio concludes.
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About Tieto Corporation
Tieto is the leading IT service company in Northern Europe providing IT and product engineering services. Our highly specialized IT solutions and services complemented by a strong technology platform create tangible business benefits for our local and global customers. As a trusted transformation partner, we are close to our customers and understand their unique needs. With about 18 000 experts, we aim to become a leading service integrator creating the best service experience in IT.