“The Safety of Telemedicine – How can Resilient Health Care Contribute?” This was the framework for inspiring presentions that brought together patient safety, telemedicine and resilience.
55 international and national participants participated in an exciting thematic event on 16th August at the Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark. The event focused on strengthening patient safety within telemedicine through resilience. Resilience is a notion which covers improvements through minimising errors and focusing on what works well.
The participants were from the Region of Southern Denmark, Danish telemedicine and health innovation companies, international research organisations and interest groups, as well as regions and municipalities.
Patient Safety and Telemedicine
Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite from Macquarie University, Australian Institute of Health Innovation and Professor Erik Hollnagel from Jönköping University held inspiring presentations about the technological opportunities, challenges and perspectives of future patient safety in relation to telemedicine.
Exemplifying an operating telemedicine solution, Linda Justi from the Health Innovation Centre and Nina Bækmark from Danish Telemedicine presented the development and implementation of their solution for Tele Ulcer Assessment and Care, which is one of five initiatives in the Danish National Action Plan for the Dissemination of Telemedicine in Denmark.
Constructive and Critical Focus on Telemedicine
The Health Innovation Centre contributed with facilitation and elaboration on issues, as well as a strong focus on patient-experienced quality, e.g. through a workshop where the 55 participants worked constructively and critically with improvement of telemedicine solutions on the basis of the resilience notion. Knowledge, ideas and processes were investigated to create better conditions for patient safety. The participants worked on the opportunities and challenges related to strengthening patient safety for future roll out of telemedicine.
Successful Implementation of Telemedicine Solutions – a Change Process
Implementation of telemedicine solutions is challenging both internationally and in Denmark. At the workshop and subsequent debate, the participants discussed improvement potential based on their own practices. There were both positive and critical voices, however, everyone could agree that we need to be careful and ensure that solutions are patient-centred and close to the patient, and that they create smooth and cohesive patient journeys and a good work culture among health care professionals.
“I am excited about your approach to innovation here today. I always say that ‘participation is key” Jeffrey Braithwaite, Professor, Macquarie University, Australia.
Erik Hollnagel underlined that technological change happens ever faster, and that as a leader it is important to remember that technological solutions such as telemedicine cannot replace an existing work procedure or procedure completely. The implementation of technological solutions should be seen as a new work procedure with all of the considerations and influences, which are normally a part of a change process.
“If you want to find out how to have a good marriage, you would not ask the people who are divorced, would you? You would ask the people who are happily married! Obviously in order to improve the health care sector we also need to look into everything that is going well.” Erik Hollnagel, Professor, Jönköping University and Centre for Quality, Region of Southern Denmark
Several participants emphasised that a successful change process necessitates an attentive and positive management that understands the significance of a listening and learning organization, in which there is space for initiatives and the necessary further education of employees.
The work across sectors was also considered crucial to successful implementation of technology, because hospitals and municipalities both have each their work procedures connected with telemedicine services.
Erik Hollnagel and Jeffrey Braithwaite both emphasised the need to look within the organization before, during and after a change process and to listen and understand what is going well on a day to day basis and what a force of change such as telemedicine will entail for the system and for the safety of the patient.“The new Financial Agreement between the Government and the Regions of Denmark, through the ” technology contribution” and the “proximity financing” will lead to more use of telemedicine. In the Management we need to focus on this now and in the future.” Kurt Espersen, Group Director, Region of Southern Denmark.