As eHealth Queensland celebrated the annual showcase of its nation-leading, state-wide tech transformation, the state’s Minister for Health said, “Digital is no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’, it is now part of Queensland Health’s DNA”.

With eight digital hospitals and 19 more going live over the next three years, and advances in 3D-printed body parts, nanotechnology, robotics and genomics, the Brisbane eHealth Expo gave a capacity crowd in Brisbane a view of the state’s pioneering plans.

“Our goal is to improve the health of all Queenslanders and technology advancements in healthcare is a big part how we will achieve this,” Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles told Healthcare IT News Australia.

By 2020, 80 per cent of patients receiving public healthcare in Queensland will be treated in a digital hospital.

Data analysed from five of the hospitals that have already implemented digital systems have shown stunning benefits to patient care including an 88 per cent reduction in pressure injuries and a 37 per cent reduction in hospital acquired infections.

Queensland’s digital direction has been galvanised by its successes, including the world-first transplant of a 3D-printed shinbone last year, which saved the leg of a 26-year-old man. 

“This extraordinary achievement has prompted a greater focus on health 3D printing in Queensland,” Miles said.

“Queensland is already a leader in nanotechnology and through the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance we are advancing our genomics agenda. Wearable, digestible and implant sensors are also an area of interest as we support Queenslanders to lead healthier lifestyles.”

[Read more: Queensland surgeons perform world-first 3D printed shinbone transplant | Brisbane's PAH joins two other Australian hospitals to reach HIMSS EMRAM Stage 6 for its digital transformation]

This year’s eHealth Expo also featured artificial intelligence, augmented reality, mobile apps, precision medicine and a hackathon on integrated care and population health.

But according to the Health Minister, implementing visionary digital health hasn’t only been a technology challenge; it has also required support throughout Queensland Health’s 86,000 staff.

“I have been so proud to see Queenslanders of all backgrounds and professions embracing digital technology in health. This evidence-based solution helps us provide better care to our patients and streamlines the work of our busy frontline staff – a true win-win.

“Transitioning the state’s largest employer to digital technology is no easy feat but of the hospitals that have migrated, feedback from staff has been extremely positive.”

The rollout of the digital hospital program, including the implementation of the integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR), is improving efficiencies, preventing duplications and reducing costs across hospital operations.

Townsville Hospital, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Nambour Hospital and Ipswich Hospital will go digital in 2018, with Gold Coast University Hospital, Toowoomba Hospital and Robina Hospital to follow next year.

As part of the state budget, Queensland has announced it is boosting its health operating budget to $17.3 billion in 2018-19, an increase of $729.3 million from 2017-18, while investments in health infrastructure will be up $69.4 million from 2017-18 to $985.5 million in 2018-19.

Within the $800 million Queensland Ambulance Service budget allocation, $866,000 has been earmarked for information and communication technology, including software development projects designed to enhance patient care and service delivery.

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