“We have been working towards going digital for a number of years. We initially looked at a number of off-the-shelf solutions, but one of the key issues we faced with this was finding pieces of software that fit what we do,” Dr Ibbotson said.
- Sending the right resources to the right patients at the right time – data collected will enable the organisation to predict likely disease causes and progressions using the data from the system, so that it can better and more effectively treat patients.
- Providing the most appropriate response – EMRs will help assess if a plane needs to be sent over to a patient, and the crew or skill mix that they require.
- Meeting governance standards – EMRs will prove that the care provided by RFDS is appropriate and in line with best practice guidelines and evidence, and has a positive impact on patient outcomes.
- Improving education – with good data sets, RFDS can work on its capabilities to improve medical and surgical procedures, tailor the education that its teams need to ensure it’s reducing complications and errors based on the data, and educating medical students accordingly (it has a partnership in place with the University of Sydney School of Rural Health in Dubbo).
“Rural and remote Australians have poorer health outcomes, so we want to be able to do the best for our patients. These data sets will be of great use to us as we build the clinicians of the future in our setting,” Dr Ibbotson said.
The organisation also went through a rigorous EMR engagement process with its staff, starting with the quality and safety assurance team, which provided a view of what needed to be collected and how to do it. RFDS got input from staff from the operational bases when building on new concepts and direction in software. And it also had meetings with developers who advised on the systems in place, information collected, and processes required to collect patient data.
Moving forward, RFDS intends on working on an approach to better integrate its diverse systems.
“We want to better integrate our database for the whole of RFDS as currently, they all use different softwares. They all work very well for the purpose that they were built for, but it would be better if we could find a way of integrating them and have one big database of information,” he added.
“As we go through equipment renewal, we can network all of our equipment together so that we have all the necessary tools to pull all kinds of information together to produce a comprehensive record for our patients. That involves keeping our data in one place rather than having it as multiple silos around our organisation.”
According to Dr Ibbotson, getting access to primary healthcare data would also help build its systems into a “very powerful tool” for improving patient care journeys and healthcare systems in future.