KARACHI: The 5th international conference on patient safety concluded at the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) on Sunday with messages for moving towards people-centred care and increased use of technology to tackle growing healthcare challenges and burden on hospitals.

The event —Implementation research in healthcare quality and safety — was organised by Riphah Institute of Healthcare Improvement & Safety in partnership with World Health Organisation, Imperial College London, City University London, National Institute of Health, Islamabad and Martin Dow Group.

The conference covered topics ranging from infection prevention and control, patient safety in dentistry, role of nursing, implementation of health policies and research, to leadership in healthcare, pharmacovigilance and the role of virtual reality in surgical training.

In his recorded message, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan explained why it’s important to focus on patient safety. “This is a serious health issue requiring our immediate attention. Better safety measures improve patient experience, health outcomes, well-being of the healthcare team as well as reduce costs,” he said.

PM’s aide Dr Sultan says 20pc to 40pc of health spending wasted due to poor quality care

Globally, Dr Sultan pointed out, 20 per cent to 40pc of health spending went wasted due to poor quality care and 15pc of hospital costs were on account of harm caused to patients.

“These statistics remind us that patient safety is critical in healthcare. In Pakistan, we need to move towards people-centred care, while paying attention to public health needs and expectations of the community to improve patient safety.”

He appreciated efforts on part of the event organisers and said discussions on the forum would encourage stakeholders to take practical measures in this field.

AI transforming healthcare future

In a session on the future of healthcare, LNH medical director Dr Salman Faridi said artificial intelligence was transforming the future of healthcare as it provided several advantages over traditional clinical decision-making.

On medical error reduction and prevention, he said chances of errors during treatment always existed and like other professionals, doctors should also be forgiven for the error.

In his presentation, Dr Zakiuddin said there was an immediate need to introduce the concept of ‘homspital’ in society where patients were provided healthcare services at home.

“There are several factors in play leading to the emergence of a new hospital structure. These forces include changes in patient population and their needs, advances in clinical knowledge and technology, impact of digital technology, higher patient expectation, difficulties in attracting and retaining an appropriate skilled workforce, financial and funding challenges and growing requirements to measure quality.”

Sharing some data on digital medical / health applications, he said their numbers were increasing rapidly. “Currently, we have 300,000 apps on iOS and Android compared to the approximately 165,000 available in 2015.”

Dr Zakiuddin concluded his presentation by emphasising that doctors and nurses were facing burnouts and to prevent them, the phenomenon of ‘homspital’ should be introduced as soon as possible.

Sindh Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho, Prof Paul Barach of Wayne State University, Dr Aziz Sheikh from the University of Edinburgh and Prof Allen Meador from the University of North Carolina, were among the speakers.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2022

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