Norway leading the way to digital health

My Norwegian healthcare tour comes to a close today.  On Wednesday we visited with physicians and executives at Asker and Baerum Hospital. We also participated in the grand opening of the European Health Center of Excellence.  On Thursday, we met with officials representing the 15 hospital trusts in the South East Norway Regional Health Authority and toured the new $1.6 Billion Akershus University Hospital.

IMG_0441 Asker and Baerum is a more typical Norwegian community hospital and certainly less glitzy and grand than the newer facilities we visited.  However, the physicians at Asker and Baerum were absolutely delightful and extraordinarily engaged in our discussions about clinical information systems and the opportunity to use IT to improve care quality and safety.  I especially enjoyed meeting a young doctor, Arne Soraas, who was responsible for the intensive care unit.  Dr. Soraas and his peers have developed on-line tools and workarounds that help solve workflow issues not addressed by theirIMG_0446 core clinical systems.  All patients at the hospital have an electronic chart, but we agreed there were many opportunities to improve staff productivity and access to information at the point of care.  It was refreshing to see physicians so engaged and interested in using computers in the care of their patients.  Could it be that this new, young generation of doctors, physicians who literally grew up with the PC, will take this industry where it needs to go? The hospital lacked a wireless network, and we all agreed the physicians would be better served when mobility is added to their solution mix.  In the meantime, they are quite happy using their clinical work stations.  A recently added speech recognition system helps speed data input.


Wednesday afternoon I provided a keynote for the grand opening of the European Health Center of Excellence.  The Center is a joint project of HP, Cisco, Imatis, Telenor and Microsoft.  It features a two-bed hospital room mockup with some of the very latest solutions for patient monitoring, bedside patient entertainment and communication systems, and caregiver collaboration solutions.  Visitors to the center will have an opportunity to "test drive" and learn more about these technologies as they plan implementations for their own facilities.

IMG_0452 On Thursday afternoon, we visited the new Akershus University Hospital.  Like St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, this is a full replacement program for the university's old facility.  The new hospital is designed totally around the patient experience and offers amazing architecture, soothing environments connected to nature, and of course, a lot of high-tech, digital technologies.  The cost of the new facility will be offset in part by expected increases in staff productivity and streamlined operations from the hospital's advanced IT solutions and improved clinical workflow.  The entire project has been guided by the hospital's own employees and division leaders with a lot of input from patients.  Everyone is looking forward to the grand opening of the university hospital's new facilities.

I would like to give special thanks to my Norwegian hosts.  In particular I would like to thank Dr. Jan Stomer in Tromso for his generous hospitality during my visit.  I would also like to give special recognition to my Microsoft colleagues Jan Rylund and Helge Blindheim for their tireless efforts in planning the agenda, meetings, tours, and entertainment for my visit to Norway.  You guys rock!

Bill Crounse, MD   Senior Director, Worldwide Health   Microsoft Corporation

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