The Long and Winding Road. A path to managing complex health information in a digitally hybrid world

| By Melanie Ford MN, Healthcare Industry Consultant, Lexmark

A complete Electronic Health Record is the nirvana of healthcare and good clinical decision making.

Good clinical decision making relies on a complete health record.

TAGS: Healthcare, Thought Leadership

Patients rely on clinicians to make sound and safe decisions about their healthcare based on how they present, combined with all the rich data about their healthcare that preceded their current visit.

Not just data generated in your hospital but from their general practitioner, their pharmacist or the neighbouring hospital that saw them last week. This is where things can go horribly wrong. Omission of data is as dangerous to the patient in your care as inaccurate data. Either way, this rarely ends well.

As much of a person's clinical data resides in non-hospital systems (paper, electronic or hybrid), and digital interoperability between systems outside of your hospital EMR is far from complete, how do we, as providers of 21st century healthcare prevent 19th century outcomes?

Crossing the Digital Divide

In 2012, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) standards. At their core, the intent was and is to be the framework for and barometer of safe and efficient practice. In other words, a nationally consistent level of care a single integrated clinical record that integrates multiple disparate systems where digital interoperability doesn't exist. Yet, as standards of interoperability evolve, we still struggle with achieving semantic interoperability and data federation within hospitals. Let alone those systems outside of the cone of silence.

If we had a single personal record that traversed all venues of care, ensured a national standard across all providers, crossed state and national boundaries, these standards would be easier to attain. Unfortunately, even the Australian My Health Record initiative has been unable to achieve this. 

Scanning at the Point of Care

Perhaps one of the richest sources of current information are the ones we often forget. It’s the documents the patient hands you with a list of their current medications, the interstate pathology report that is faxed to you or the discharge summary with a list of clinical conditions that is awaiting filing and scanning. These are of no use to you in the emergency department with an unconscious patient if they only become part of the patient record at the end of their encounter. Instead, a Point of Care scanning solution can easily attach them to the patient’s medical record at the touch of a button.

Include the patient in Clinical Communication

From the patient’s perspective, communication can be ad-hoc. The Australian charter of healthcare rights notes that they should expect to "…receive open, timely and appropriate communication about my health care in a way I can understand."1 "Patient-clinician communication in hospitals" produced by the (ACSQH) talks to patient communication2 but defining good patient communication is multi-factorial.

Good patient communication is known to improve patient safety and reduce readmissions. Given any one-dimensional approach, we do not recognise the importance of information at the right level, in the correct language, supporting cultural appropriateness and delivered at the right time and context. Lexmark Healthcare, context and person specific solutions to ensure that communication with patients is efficient and effective.

Be Ready for when EMRs aren't available

cyber-attack, it can paralyse a hospital for weeks, its effects lasting much longer. Looking after patients is risky where parts of the record are missing. Imagine what happens if it's all gone? Cyber-attacks not only put systems at risk, but they also endanger patients, and compromise personal information. 

Multi-Function devices with Lexmark's Downtime Assistant solution can maintain a historical patient record, generate it when required, produce populated or blank forms with patient and form identifiers. This allows you to scan it back into the patient record. It’s simple, it’s safe and patient barcodes on generated forms ensure the completed forms are returned to the patient's EMR.

So no, were not there yet but at Lexmark Healthcare, we have clinical solutions and devices to make sure that on your path to the fourth industrial revolution, the winding road has safeguards.

Lexmark Healthcare have 30 years’ experience in assisting healthcare organisations

See us at the Australasian Digital Health Institute Summit Booth #37 to learn more about a path to managing complex information in a digitally hybrid world.


1. Australian Charter of Health Care Rights (first edition) | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

2. Information-sheet-for-executives-and-clinical-leaders-Improving-patient-clinician-communication.pdf (