Hospitals big and small need to balance practicality, clinical expediency and adherence to policy amongst their staff to best serve the interests of patients. Inside a hospital, clinicians, administrators and other healthcare professionals all have many of the same business problems regardless of organisation size. When procedures and methods are cumbersome, time poor clinicians will seek workarounds. This raises a challenging question for many organisations: How to bridge the dissonance between policy and practice around patient photography in the smart phone age?
This is confirmed in the feedback we receive about V-Photo from our customers. Whether a clinician is attending an outpatient clinic, a community health service, a 50 bed hospital or a 1000 bed campus their role is to see patients, consult and determine a course of action with the healthcare team. In many cases it’s useful to take a patient image for record keeping, comparison, team review or for a second opinion. Unfortunately this often results in a breach of patient privacy because clinicians use their own devices for non-secure photo storage and transmission. Depending on the literature this happens 20-80% of the time.
So why is this the case? Meeting privacy obligations can be difficult in a busy clinical environment. There’s often not a dedicated camera and importing images to bespoke systems can be arduous. These requirements can be burdensome resulting in people using their own device to snap a photo, even when it is against policy. In other instances there are no facilities for handover/referral. Ambulance personnel have been known to take patient images for handover to emergency department staff and their work takes them to multiple environments.
V-Photo is specifically well suited to smaller organisations as they are likely to establish an initial patient record. When referring a patient to a larger organisation, they can then provide photos to accompany the patient’s referral.
There are host of photographic apps available today and many are non-clinical and aimed at point-to-point image sharing rather than saving securely to a medical record. Alternatively, V-Photo provides administrators with a full audit trail of user actions. This is essential where images constitute part of the patient’s medical record. Factors we consider with customers include:
What databases images will be stored in (one or more)
Which clinical programs need access to these images
Security and encryption methods that will suit the organisation
How the PAS will be configured
The current privacy requirements of the organisation
No matter the organisation’s size we are focussed on making image capture secure, convenient and fully compliant with privacy laws. When compliance is easy, hospitals can close the gap between policy and practice. For more information about smartphone use and photo-sharing in a hospital setting check out our whitepaper on the same topic here.