The COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to foster digital competences of medical personnel
The emergence of COVID-19 has contributed to a massive shift to remote work, new technologies development and, consequently, resulted in an increase in e-health solutions and the need to strengthen the digital competences of medical personnel. The pandemic also made us realize that already available methods and technological solutions are not used in full capacity and that digital transformation and digitalization are not only necessary but also inevitable in the long run.
New technologies, transition into the sphere of digitalization of the healthcare system – these directions of development have been discussed for years. Increasing the digital competences of medical staff as well as making them and the patients aware that new solutions such as i.e. electronic documents are both safe and convenient was a big challenge.
In order to respond to these challenges and strengthen the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff regarding the development, use, and implementation of digital solutions in everyday practice, the DISH Project (Digital & Innovation Skills Helix in Health) was launched in 2018 (https://www.dishproject.eu/).
The current epidemic situation has only strengthened and accelerated this process and the need to adapt the work of medical personnel to the digital space.
As a result of the pandemic, in Poland, there has been a rapid increase in the role of telemedicine and thus all related services. Currently, video consultation is considered to be the safest form of contact with a doctor and virtual care of the patient and people in home quarantine has become a standard.
The Internet Patient Account (https://pacjent.gov.pl/) was disseminated and e-services such as electronic prescriptions, sick leaves and referrals (e-prescription, e-referral, e-leave) were fully implemented. From January 8, 2021, all referrals for specialist treatment must be issued in an electronic form and all medical facilities are required to handle them.
Worth mentioning is also “OSOZ – a Polish Nationwide Health Care System https://www.osoz.pl/osoz/web/osoz-cms a unique on a European scale, comprehensive, multidimensional, and long-term information system designed to support health care management.
The uniqueness of the project is due to the combination of the most important elements of the health care system in a single place and the possibility of electronic exchange of health information. OSOZ focuses not only on the patient, doctor, pharmacist, health care manager but also on public trust institutions dealing with health, which guarantee the complexity of practical solutions in the Polish health care system.
Thanks to the expansion of the competences of medical assistants who can issue e-prescriptions and e-referrals on behalf of doctors, a reduction in the administrative burden on doctors is observed. The e-prescription is also a great help for the patient and the pharmacist – the document cannot be lost, immediately after being issued it appears in the pharmacy system and its legibility ensures double security because, in the event of any mistake, the IT system warns the pharmacist of the error.
Many companies supporting computerization of the healthcare market such as Polish KAMSOFT (https://kamsoft.pl/), offer innovative solutions for hospitals, medical and pharmaceutical institutions, i.e. an Integrated Hospital Management System and Hospital Mobile Applications (eg “medical rounds, nursing rounds, anesthesia cards”) offering access to electronic documentation on any device and at the patient’s bedside or in the operating room without the need to have access to a computer.
Another solution worth mentioning is the free Comarch HealthNote application (https://healthnote.pl/en) for a smartphone, which allows the doctor to view the patient’s medical history using a QR code from their phone or directly from a website – all information and treatment history is available in one place.
The epidemic of the new coronavirus confirmed that introducing new technological solutions and increasing the digital competences of medical personnel is important not only from the point of view of the individual but also the entire society.