By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
While we’ve all been following the rapidly changing healthcare landscape to see what the coming new system will hold for users and providers alike, some of the innovators in the field of connected health like Accenture have been taking a much more active role than just observers. With the recent opening of an Analytics Innovation Center in Singapore and several healthcare focused initiatives including an electronic health record system in Norway, this is one of the firms that is clearly taking a lead in the union of accessible healthcare information and IT.
Accenture’s Rick Ratliff, Global Lead for Connected Health, recently spoke with Big4.com about where the company is and where they plan on going in this field. He started by saying that healthcare and public service were unified as one of the five vertical industry focuses in the Accenture organization since in the United States, healthcare was looked at from a commercial and government perspective, while the focus was more governmental in other countries where Accenture is active such as Norway.
High Performance Health Care Systems
“We’re bringing our interest and expertise on the public service side of the business with our health care expertise and looking at how we can help government and commercial clients become what we call high performing health care systems,” he said.
Ratliff mentioned that Accenture had over 15,000 personnel working around the world to help clients improve their business processes as well as leverage technology. He stressed Accenture’s efforts were in fact three pronged since they were a technology, consulting and outsourcing firm and that restructuring often worked hand in hand with technology to achieve client’s targets.
Technologies Across The Board
“From a technology standpoint,” he said, “we have a significant investment in looking at technologies across the board from cloud based solutions to big data analytical solutions to innovative approaches to using mobility.”
Accenture uses these capabilities to focus in on specific industry problems like healthcare. Specifically, the Norwegian Directorate of Health recently awarded the company a five year contract to build and implement a system to provide a consolidated record system for Norway’s medical professionals and five million citizens.
Ratliff also spoke to the importance of information governance as it pertains to ehealth and how Accenture approaches the issue with its clients around the world. The whole question centers around the issue of protecting the confidentiality and privacy of patient information that might reside in a number of different systems.
“You have to look at your policies about access to the information,” he said furthering that this would be determined in part by patient consent and regulations by country.
The information governance structure that Accenture works on with each client would cover a variety of issues including data storage which is a critical concern to making sure any solution is satisfactory.
“There would be considerations around how do you manage data that’s both in the cloud or managed by a central service versus the data that resides potentially in a medial record system in a physician’s office or a retail pharmacy,” Ratliff said, adding that the question was how to bring all the data together into one central location so that it was stored and secured while certain individuals had access to it and others did not.
He also said healthcare data storage relies primarily on physical data centers under the umbrella ‘cloud’ term rather than the more commercial versions offered by the likes of Amazon for these governance reasons.