Simon Burke

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Use data analytics to manage quality of care in public hospitals.

In Australia, while quality and efficiency is managed occasionally on an individual hospital basis, there is currently a lack of systematic management of the quality of care in public hospitals. Additional corrective treatments are often required and problems are going unnoticed, incurring large cost blow-outs, without any control or understanding of why it is occurring.

Perhaps a database could be developed, which would contain details of the patients medical records, from the up-coming e-health records system, along with the results of a questionnaire completed by the patient when they leave hospital after the initial treatment. It would also contain details of follow-up patient visits with their GP and details of any additional complications or post-operation corrective procedures. Doctors and medical staff would also provide information to the system, based on what occurred during the initial, and subsequent, care.

A system could be developed to analyse trends in the database, identifying problems within the hospitals and the treatment of patients, that are causing compliance issues or causing costs to 'blow out' from law suits or the need for further corrective treatment of patients.

The system could also identify why these trends are occurring, such as practitioner fatigue, lack of maintenance of hospital facilities and equipment or poor training.

Furthermore, it could provide information to the medial research field, facilitating the understanding of how treatments are working. Thus, expediting improvements in treatments.

There is potential for a backlash from staff over a fear of being monitored. However, the system could be designed to allow them to anonymously raise concerns about areas where problems are occurring, providing a sense of contribution.

Patient privacy is not likely to be an issue, as personal details of the patient would remain anonymous, identifiable only by a unique code, which is likely to already be used by the e-health system.

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    Apr 12 2012: Structured data analysis is a poor means of identifying problems with patient care because it presupposes the nature of problems to be identified. It is also vulnerable to falsification and misreporting. It would be more effective to make it easy for patients and their relatives to complain about problems and to have independent analysis of that free form data.
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    Apr 18 2012: Thanks for the feedback, Anne. After talking to a few people n the industry, this problem also became apparent. The patient and relative feedback component would be a more objective way to analyse what is happening and ensure that potential problems are raised and dealt with. However, due to the medical expertise required to understand the nature of the care being administered, the feedback given by these groups may lack credibility.