Queensland’s Metro South Health has cemented its reputation for trailblazing digital health innovation, blitzing the field to be recognised as a global leader at the prestigious International Hospital Federation Awards.

The Brisbane-based public health network was announced as the winner of the gold IHF/Austco Excellence Award for Quality and Safety in Patient-Centred Care for its gestational diabetes mellitus app and internet-based interactive clinician portal.

It also received a silver IHF/Dr Kwang Tae Kim Grand Award for its transformation to Australia's first digital health service.

The merit recognition in the IHF/Bionexo Award for Corporate Social Responsibility category for providing access to dental treatment for refugee communities provided Metro Health South with the hat-trick.

International Hospital Federation President Dr Francisco Balestrin announced the award winners at the 42nd IHF World Hospital Congress in Brisbane last week, honouring innovations and outstanding achievements in healthcare worldwide.

The awards received a record 160 entries from 118 organisations in 33 countries, with nine Australian finalists out of 27 from 12 countries, including Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

“It is a phenomenal achievement to receive not just one but three IHF Awards, and they shine a global spotlight on our dedication to providing the highest quality healthcare,” a delighted Metro South Health Chief Executive Dr Stephen Ayre said.

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In 2018, the health service completed the “momentous” project to digitise medical records at all five of its hospitals – Princess Alexandra, Logan, QEII Jubilee, Redland and Beaudesert hospitals – using its integrated electronic medical record, or ieMR.

“Following our ambitious journey to become Australia’s first digital health service, we are proud to offer the benefits of this technology to our patients and community,” Ayre said.

“In digital hospitals, clinicians have real-time access to patients’ health information at the bedside, and this information travels with patients throughout their healthcare journeys. The result is increased collaboration between clinicians and more personalised, efficient and accurate care for our patients.

“A silver IHF Award in the pinnacle ‘Grand Award’ category is deserved recognition for the thousands of staff who helped deliver the safe, efficient rollout of digital hospital systems.”

Queensland Health also picked up merit awards for its Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic and Statewide Service and Redcliffe Hospital’s Pharmacist-led, hospital-based opioid stewardship service, while a bronze IHF/Dr Kwang Tae Kim Grand Award went to Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service for ‘Wide Bay Amazing Sustainable Turnaround’.

Warren Prentice, Chief Technology Officer at eHealth Queensland said digital innovation is a critical theme in the Queensland Health strategy My Health, Queensland’s future: Advancing health 2026.

“The digital hospitals and more broadly the digital healthcare capabilities are demonstrating how digital innovation can advance healthcare for consumers, clinicians and the community. These new digital capabilities are enabling a culture of innovation across the state’s health system.”

[Read more: Digital health: it’s in our DNA. Queensland Health Minister on the state’s high-tech revolution | Connected wisdom: Queensland claims online GP portal success story]

The award-winning tech projects highlight Queensland as a state of innovation, with an extensive range of digital health solutions integrated throughout rural and remote areas as well as within the largest metro hospitals.

“These local digital health solutions require local clinical digital leadership and support with advice and expertise on cyber security, information management and interoperability with other systems from eHealth Queensland,” Prentice said.

“This empowers the local teams to implement digital health solutions.”

Earlier this year, Metro South also won the Queensland Health eAward of the Year for 2018, and Prentice described the team there as “real trailblazers”.

“Through their innovation, expertise and focus on patient outcomes their solution can be used across Queensland so that any patient care or service improvements can be reviewed quickly within 24 hours. This motivates staff as they can quickly see the power of data in clinical improvement and encourage them to looking for continuing process improvements.”

For Prentice, the team’s success lies in its collaborative approach.

“Clinical engagement and leadership is essential in implementing digital healthcare change. These initiatives are clinical transformation activities, enabled through technology – they cannot be seen as technology changes. This has been proven in recent digital releases with significant improvements in patient safety and quality from the ieMR enabled digital hospitals.”

[Read more: Queensland research into hospital digital systems finds the benefits outweigh the risks | “The art of what's possible”: Queensland Government and vendors collaborate in industry-first showcase]

Metro South’s Ayre said there is no doubt the health tech initiatives are delivering meaningful benefits for patients.

“Digital technology – such as smartphone applications – is being used to connect patients to clinicians and empower patients to manage their conditions more easily at home,” Ayre said.

“Our Gold award-winning gestational diabetes mellitus app – developed by Redland Hospital in partnership with CSIRO – is a great example of this, with significant benefits for mums-to-be and newborn babies.”

Other Australian award winners included the gold IHF/Dr Kwang Tae Kim Grand Award, which went to Dental Health Services Victoria for ‘Value-based healthcare: A new approach to improve oral health outcomes’, while the bronze IHF/Bionexo Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Award went to Victoria’s Western Health for ‘Western Health Healthcare Environmental Sustainability (HES) Program’.

A merit award in the IHF/Austco Excellence Award for Quality and Safety in Patient-Centred Care category went to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, ACT Health’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and Darling Downs Hospital for ‘IRONing out Maternity Blood Management: Improving identification and management of iron deficiency and anaemia’.

eHealth Queensland Chief Executive Dr Richard Ashby will be headlining a keynote panel discussion on transforming digital health services at HIMSS AsiaPac18 in Brisbane in November. The conference is also offering hospital tours of both Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital. Learn more here.




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