Can you imagine a world in which technology enables physicians and nurses to spend less time in front of a computer and more time with patients?
This is the vision of Gareth Sherlock, chief information officer (CIO) at Cleveland Clinic London.
He recalls one of the physician leaders at the clinic saying that he dreams of the day when he can sit across from a patient and look them in the eye without requiring any interaction or typing into a PC throughout the consultation.
“All the clinical notes, ordering of services, scheduling and billing would be taken care of automatically with the use of voice recognition, translation and dictation personalized for each physician and patient,” recounts Sherlock. “It sounds great, doesn’t it? This is the type of technology we need to be aiming for.”
After starting his career as a technology consultant in the finance industry, Sherlock first transitioned to healthcare on a project implementing a clinical information system across eight metropolitan hospitals and 14 renal facilities in the state of South Australia.
“My brother was an orthopedic surgeon, so healthcare had always interested me, and I worked on the project for three years,” explains Sherlock. “I loved the work and became very passionate about staying in healthcare.”
After working for 11 years in healthcare consulting with Accenture in Australia and Europe, he started work in Abu Dhabi with Cleveland Clinic to help create a new 365-bed multi-specialty hospital – a project he lists as a career highlight.
“For me, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver a greenfield hospital, as well as bring the Cleveland Clinic model of care to Abu Dhabi,” he says.
His next move was to Cleveland Clinic London, where he helped open a 184-bed multi-specialty hospital in the capital.
“The goal was to bring the best of Cleveland Clinic and combine that with the best of UK healthcare, to deliver a new and innovative model of care,” he explains. “I truly feel honored and blessed that I was part of the two amazing hospital builds.”
A focus on empathy
Sherlock is passionate about the role of innovation in health and care in helping patients get access to the care they need, while delivering an exceptional patient and caregiver experience.
“Innovation in healthcare is absolutely critical,” he says. “Many of the technology innovations we’ve implemented at Cleveland Clinic London are improving patient safety and freeing up caregivers to focus on empathy.”
One example at the London hospital is the use of closed-loop medication administration with unit-dose packaging robots, to ensure the patients receive an added level of safety.
The hospital, one of the most digital in the UK, also uses a patient portal that empowers patients to manage their care and access facilities virtually and in person. Caregivers are also provided with mobile apps to enable them to be more efficient with their time, and medical equipment is integrated with the EMR and caregiver workflows, to increase efficiency and reduce transcription errors.
According to Sherlock, we are currently seeing a big shift in areas like virtual health and remote care.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic it felt like we made five years of gains in the space of a few months, but will healthcare organizations be able to maintain the gains they’ve made in virtual care?” he asks. “It’s really important that we don’t lose sight of how effective healthcare organizations have been in going virtual and how this can significantly improve the patient-caregiver experience.”
Another recent trend is hybrid staffing with many non-clinical staff moving to remote work and not returning to the office.
“The whole office dynamic has also changed because of the pandemic, and organizations are adapting very quickly to this new normal,” says Sherlock. “Technology allows input of caregivers across continents.”
He will be talking about some of these innovations in the closing keynote session on Tomorrow came Yesterday: What’s next in the Workforce? A Glimpse into the Future of Healthcare at the HIMSS22 APAC Health Conference & Exhibition.
Looking to his aspirations for the future, Sherlock believes the biggest challenge we need to solve in healthcare is access.
“We need to make it a priority in healthcare for people to get access to the care they need,” he concludes. “This is not an easy problem to solve, but it is something we need to figure out globally.”
HIMSS22 APAC Health Conference & Exhibition is taking place in Bali 26-29 September 2022. See here to find out more.