A tale of two hospitals: Pushing forward in their digital journey

Ronaldo Yacat, Jr., Jose Xavier B. Gonzales and Andres Licaros

EVEN before the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a big blow to the health-care industry, some of the big hospitals in Metro Manila had already started their journey towards digital transformation. For these hospitals, the ultimate goal of going digital is to provide the best quality of care to their patients.

The pandemic did have an affect on that digital journey. For Asian Hospital and Medical Center, the pandemic served as a wake-up call for them to look into how they could provide physicians with a platform to enable them to continue caring for their patients. For The Medical City, the pandemic was an opportunity for them to assess where they were in their digital transformation journey and what modifications they needed to undertake.

Here are their stories:

Asian Hospital and Medical Center

BACK in 2017, Asian Hospital and Medical Center started its digitalization journey with the adoption of the HIMSS EMRAM as its core roadmap. HIMSS or Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is a global advisor, thought leader and member-based society committed to reforming the global health ecosystem through the power of information and technology.

The HIMSS EMRAM (Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model) measures clinical outcomes, patient engagement and clinician use of EMR (electronic medical record) technology to strengthen organizational performance and health outcomes across patient populations.

According to Ronaldo Yacat, Jr., Asian Hospital’s Associate Director for Information Technology, and Innovation, two questions arose when the pandemic struck: How can the hospital provide the physicians with a platform to provide care to their patients while at home? How can the hospital provide patients access to their required diagnostic examination in a safe and seamless process especially during enhance community quarantine?

Wake-up call

“THESE questions were a wake-up call and we had to respond to them. Since we had already laid out our digitalization plan, which includes implementation of different clinical systems in parallel with projects, we shifted to the development of applications for telemedicine and online appointment system,” Yacat said.

“Asian Hospital adapted to the challenges brought about by the pandemic through the adoption and implementation of digital platforms to ensure safe and efficient process for the community, which is composed of employees, physicians and patients,” he further noted.

Andres M. Licaros Jr., President, and CEO of Asian Hospital, said digital transformation would be the hospital’s core strategy this 2022 even as it will remain focused “on making every patient feel better as we make them well.”

Smart EMR

IN terms of their digital transformation journey, Yatco related that Asian Hospital was in various stages of development in their priority IT projects. Currently, the hospital is in the progressive deployment of the Electrical Medical Records (EMR) Platform. This platform contains controlled medical vocabularies that provide structured data inputs for health-care professionals.

“This is what you can call a Smart EMR which can help doctors determine the right terminology to use in terms of diagnosis. One of the Joint Commission International’s standards that we must adhere to is to avoid using abbreviations and this will help achieve that,” Yacat explained, adding that the target for complete deployment of the platform is the third quarter of 2023.

Another platform that is being developed is the Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA)/Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)/Radiology Information  System (RIS) which will provide an enterprise archiving system for medial studies, for images to video recordings, among others.

“So far, the images that are stored in the system can already be viewed in computers at the hospital. We hope to make the system available offsite by the second quarter of next year,” he said. The Health Information System Pharmacy Model focuses on compounding and progressive deployment of the EMAR which is currently being used in identified nursing units.

Additionally, Asian Hospital is also implementing the IntelliSpace Cardiovascular Information System at the Asian Cardiovascular Institute. The objective of the project is to integrate with the HIS and Vendor Neutral Archive platform to provide seamless processes and service to the Institute patients.

As for Asian Hospital’s future plans in terms of the digital journey, Yacat said the main goal is “to implement more systems and at the same time making sure that security measures for data privacy are in place.”

The Medical City

WHEN it comes to hospitals taking on the digital transformation journey, Jose Xavier B. Gonzales, Chairman of the Board of The Medical City (TMC) Enterprise, said the patient should be at center stage. That done, there are four elements that need to be considered before you start the journey.

The first element to consider is better diagnostic tools for patients. Gonzales pointed out that these diagnostic tools should have artificial intelligence or AI embedded into them so that it can better interpret the results of the diagnostic tools.

“Ultimately, we would want to have a data warehouse so that we can standardize and integrate all our diagnostic machines. This will also include therapeutics, patient registration, electronic medical records or EMR in conjunction with these digitized filters that tell you what these might be,” he explained.

To help achieve this goal, Gonzales said TMC is putting up a Center for Diagnostic Medicine which will offer second opinions “on how we want to better diagnose ailments and prescribe.

“That is a manifestation of where TMC is going,” he said.


THE second element is to look at prescriptions. Gonzales explained that “clinicians set the hypothesis and AI enables it to better define the hypothesis and get better conclusions on what ails the patient.”

“So the direction we want to go is that we want to be able to do real time assessment using AI on a patient’s condition in a holistic manner because we have everything from the data warehouse and identity cohorts and groups so that you can understand patters and then come up with solutions or protocols for handling cases,” he said.

The third element is safety and, Gonzales said, “we want to get into as many revolutionary technologies as possible that minimize invasive surgical interventions.” One such technology is to develop a digital twin of the patient and then perform a simulated surgery on the twin. Safety should also be incorporated in all aspects of patient care.

Better patient care

THE last element is how to mobilize better care for the patient. The idea here is to monitor the patient journey “either through the hospital or where they seek care and want to have so called digital call buttons who are the clinicians and the nurses who will help get the patient through the journey.”

“We want to organize the workflow around the patient so that we have interconnected delivery of care across channels and this is where digitalization can help,” Gonzales said.

Another digital promise that TMC wants to fulfill, according to Gonzales, is offer health-care outside of the hospital’s four walls.

“We have this bias for digital development anytime, anywhere and basically more ambulatory, more home care management so that our vision is that we will be able to set up a hospital bed in the home including visual, sensory and customized medical device tools at the miniaturized level of a hospital room with related telehealth interventions that can manifest this whole digital commitment to bring the patient outside of the hospital for care,” he said. To move forward in this digital journey, Gonzales said the projects should have full operational support, enterprise connectivity and making sure the at the hospital never goes down.

“Instead of being a general hospital, we have focused specializations depend on the diagnosis. With that, you will be able to better mobilize care around these institutional specialties. I guess that is what frames our digital journey,” Gonzales added.


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