The Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, Melboune's RMIT University and Telstra Health have announced a joint project to develop clinical decision support software employing predictive analytics.

The aim is to better understand reliable signs of patient deterioration, thereby keep more aged care residents out of the emergency room, as well as detect end-of-life indicators earlier on.

Through the $1 million partnership, the newly-developed algorithms will first be tested using historical data, then applied to fresh data in a trial setting, before they are integrated into Telstra's clinical and care management software.

As part of the project, research teams will work with gerontologists and aged care staff to interpret historical data and develop new predictive analytics techniques.

Researchers will also focus on adapting existing decision support methods from the acute care sector, as well as collaborate with clinicians to understand reliable signs of patient deterioration.

In addition to the analytics side of the research, the partnership will also take care to address data security and patient privacy issues, such as how patients might be identified from recorded data.

"Emergency hospitalisations are not only stressful for aged care residents and their families, but they also place significant additional demand on hospitals," Dr. Victor Pantano, CEO of the Digital Health CRC, said in a statement.

He noted that the ability to treat residents earlier, and avert the need for hospitalisation, is extremely important—a joint release noted the software has already been offered to providers, where it has been met with a positive response.

"Similarly, the earlier we can ascertain that an aged care resident is approaching end of life, the earlier we can enact their advance care plan and honour their preferences – an important process for the aged care residents, their carers and families, and the aged care provider," Pantano's statement continued.

The development of the software will take place over the next two years, and adapt existing decision support methods from the acute care sector – a PhD student will be embedded within the team as part of Digital Health CRC's Industry-PhD program.

"Use of predictive analytics will enable more aged care providers, residents and their families to enact appropriate plans for end of life, according to the wishes of that person," Larissa Briedis from Telstra Health said in a statement. "While most people assume Advance Care Directives will be enacted, the reality is that often this doesn't occur, due to a lack of knowledge that end of life is approaching,"

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