Thomson Hospital sets fine example for healthcare digital transformation
eHealthcare development requires a strong process foundation, a strategic budget and collaboration, says Thomson Hospital expert.
Before embarking on a digital transformation journey in healthcare, Gajendira Sivajothi, eHealth Director at Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara in Malaysia, offers a few pointers for success: well-defined processes, strategic budget allocation, and the power of collaboration.
Speaking to Healthcare Asia on the sidelines of the HIMSS23APAC event in Jakarta, Indonesia, Gajendira said a smooth transition into the digital era will first require understanding the value process within a hospital — something that is often overlooked.
“It’s essential to comprehend the strength of your existing processes and let them guide your digital transformation strategy. By doing so, you can have a clearer vision of your transformation goals and ensure that your investments yield maximum benefits,” Gajendira said.
The pathway to digitalising healthcare processes is not without challenges. Gajendira emphasised that one of the main obstacles is budget constraints. Hospitals need large budgets to embark on this transformative journey.
However, the real challenge arises in deciding where to allocate those resources effectively. Given the limitations, what needs to be prioritised are initiatives that provide maximum benefit to the hospital in the shortest time frame.
“Developing a roadmap, spanning two to five years and beyond, helps in identifying the digital transformation initiatives needed at each stage, providing a comprehensive picture of the hospital’s digital transformation journey,” Gajendira said.
One common weakness in digital transformation, regardless of budget size, is the lack of clarity in defining responsibilities. Pointing fingers and shifting blame are common scenarios. This creates a critical people issue that must be resolved for any digital transformation initiative to succeed.
“Processes can play a vital role in addressing this issue. Clear, well-defined processes help assign responsibilities and streamline operations, ensuring that the digital transformation efforts are not hindered by internal conflicts,” Gajendira said.
Thomson Hospital’s remarkable success story through the TPROCESS project serves as a shining example of how embracing processes can positively impact digital transformation.
By streamlining processes and fostering a culture of responsibility, Thomson Hospital achieved significant improvements in patient care, cost reduction, and operational efficiency.
“In my role at Thomson Hospital, I’ve had the privilege of spearheading a transformative journey. I arrived in December, following a successful tenure of over three years at a cardiac centre. With a dedicated team of four members and strong support from our CIO and CEO, we embarked on a mission to overhaul the hospital’s processes, achieving some noteworthy successes in a relatively short span,” Gajendira said.
This approach ensured a smoother and more successful journey into the digital era of healthcare for Thomson Hospital. Gajendira stressed that collaboration has been the cornerstone of this success.
“Our team, comprising two medical officers, a nurse, and an expert in insurance and billing, worked closely with various stakeholders, including clinicians, non-clinicians, and physicians, to reevaluate and enhance our existing processes,” he said.
“This multifaceted approach has led to a comprehensive transformation, instilling accountability within each department rather than relying solely on the IT department,” he added.
Gajendira stated that they have made significant progress in their journey, but it is important to acknowledge that some challenges had to be confronted squarely and resolved.
Initially, there was resistance from some end users who felt their processes were being disrupted.
“However, by emphasising that the processes belonged to them, we clarified our intention to facilitate rather than dictate change,” Gajendira said.
It’s not always possible to involve every member of a department in the process review. “We grappled with the challenge of how to keep all team members informed about changes. Effective communication and documentation proved to be the solution,” he said.
Hospitals are complex ecosystems with multiple interconnected departments. Ensuring that departments effectively communicate their processes with one another was a significant hurdle.
Gajendira revealed that clear documentation and open lines of communication have resolved this issue.
Like many hospitals, Thomson Hospital considered embracing advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and paperless systems. While these initiatives are promising, they recognised the need to establish a solid foundation first.
“We needed to address the fundamental issues and processes within the hospital before diving into these exciting developments,” Gajendira said. This step back from the excitement of buzzwords demonstrated a unique perspective, which paid off in the long run.
“Our ability to listen, accept feedback, and scrutinise processes for improvement sets us apart. We’re always in a listening mode and take action after careful consideration. This commitment to understanding our challenges and addressing them proactively is what makes Thomson Hospital’s approach unique,” Gajendira said.
Thomson Hospital’s digital transformation is anchored on understanding and optimising existing processes. So, it maintains a keen ear for feedback and room for evaluation and improvement — qualities that help build its strong process foundation for success.
“By doing so, we believe our hospital will continue to grow successfully, serving the needs of our patients and the broader healthcare community,” Gajendira said.