Digitalizing Care Processes: Highlights from Vitalis 2019

Vitalis took place from May 21 to May 23 and, as always, it was fun and inspiring. In addition to presenting some of the conclusions from my research, I was able to attend two particularly interesting presentations related to the digitalization of care processes.

The first one was held by Hanna Broberg Danielsson, project leader at Region Kalmar and lecturer at Linnaeus University. Hanna talked about the “productivity paradox”, which describes the negative impact on efficiency of some tools specifically implemented to increase efficiency. Based on that premise, she presented a tool aiming at measuring the benefits of an IT project (“nyttoanalys”). Can the use of such a tool avoid IT projects from backfiring? Hanna made a compelling case for the method, and it is to hope that more will attempt to use it in the future.

Something I particularly liked about Hanna’s presentation is that she stressed the importance of taking healthcare professionals’ experience into consideration. For instance, if healthcare staff are saying they are experiencing an increase in workload, it is worth looking into it, even if a quantitative workload assessment does not seem to reveal anything amiss.

The second presentation I found particularly interesting was held by Stefan Sjögren and Torbjörn Björsell, two healthcare professionals working at Region Västergötland. They talked about their experience using a mobile application to retrieve and chart patient parameters at the bedside (a short description of the project and its outcomes can be found here). As my own research at Akademiska sjukhuset in Uppsala has pointed to time losses in relation to having to walk back and forth between computer and patients as well as to the duplicate charting of data on paper, I was excited to hear that solutions seemed to be successfully implemented in other places. I hope Akademiska will get a similar outcome from the implementation of Cambio’s NOVA (apparently already in use in Sala, with positive effects).

Stefan and Torbjörn’s presentation also made me reflect on the impact of digital tools on “person-centered” care. This was one of the big themes at Vitalis this year – how can we support healthcare professionals in seeing the patient as a person actively involved in his / her care instead of as a passive recipient of care? The question is whether fully automating the measurement of patient parameters (e.g. blood pressure, pulse) goes into the direction of person-centered care. I am worried that by reducing even more the contact between patients and healthcare staff, the view of the patient as a person – as more than just a pile of data – will suffer. However, it might also lead to more effective dialogue between patients and care professionals, if done “right”. I hope to learn more about the patient’s perspective on the topic at Vitalis next year.

If you have missed my presentation at Vitalis, I invite to check out this brief summary I published on my personal blog. I talked about how to increase efficiency of IT-mediated nursing processes.

Diane Golay

PhD student at Uppsala University
Diane Golay is a PhD student in Human-Computer Interaction at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research focuses on the impact of digitalization on the work environment in healthcare, in particular in regard with professions dominated by women.

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