In the seventh episode of HIMSS Australia Digital Dialogue Series hosted by Tim Kelsey Senior Vice President of HIMSS Analytics International and guest speakers- Dr Zoran Bolevich (Chief Executive of eHealth NSW), Emma Hossack (CEO of Medical Software Industry Association & Director of Australia Digital Health Agency), George Margelis ( Independent Chair of Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council), Kate Quirke (Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director , Alcidion) and David Williams (Country Manager of Ascom Australia) discussed New South Wales’ transformation of their healthcare landscape through their three pronged framework to embed, accelerate as well as innovate through insights derived from data driven approaches.
Salient lessons gathered from the COVID-19 pandemic
“We have seen a significant shift in societal expectations and consumer expectations as a result of this pandemic,” Dr Bolevich stated. Fortunately during this outbreak, there was an increased acceptance and adoption of telehealth services amongst consumers within the New South Wales as they realized that it was not only a necessity in such trying times but also a convenient way to access healthcare services. This further motivated clinicians and healthcare providers to utilize digital healthcare tools to provide their services via online means in numerous healthcare fields, ranging from pediatrics to rehabilitation and chronic disease management.
The implementation of digital health in New South Wales was also a result of the collaborative effort between the healthcare facilities and the government as well as the various other industries. Hossack added, “We need to have everyone involved, not just the sick people. We also need the clinicians, the consumers and every part of the community involved in this.” The Australian government introduced a new project in New South Wales which centered around e-prescribing. This involved a joint partnership between the government and all of the dispensing software systems, prescribing software services as well as the digital health agencies.
Healthcare issues brought to light amidst this climate
“One thing COVID has done is highlight the challenges associated with delivering care to the aged community in Australia’’, Margelis pointed out. There is a lack of coordination and integration within the various facets of healthcare delivery within the country especially when it comes to the delivery of such services to the elderly. Access to the medical information of some of these elderly patients is sometimes close to impossible to retrieve as these medical records can date back to 80 years ago. As such, this serves as an impediment to the development of new drugs or vaccines that can be catered specifically to the elderly.
Enabling the delivery of digital healthcare services
Alcidion brought forth their cutting-edge resources to help ensure the smooth monitoring and delivery of healthcare services to patients inflicted with COVID-19. Through the use of an arm-band and their mobile devices with the EMR application installed, healthcare professionals were able to provide healthcare support to patients situated in healthcare facilities as well as those held in isolation in their homes.
Quirke explained that they managed to do this through the “use of their mobile device to access the EMR data which was extremely positive of infection control as there were no shared keyboards and they could get the data on their phones.” She added that “the next thing we (they) did was to move to using the platform to create a dashboard to monitor COVID positive patients both within the hospital and at home.”
This live data of the patients was displayed alongside any pre-existing/chronic information about the patient to create a longitudinal record which was critical to enabling the delivery of comprehensive virtual care.
Williams further elucidated on the role which Ascom had played in enabling the digital transformation of healthcare in Australia: “Ascom plays a very important part in the enablement of elements of the digital transformation” through its “ability to deliver rapidly in the current COVID pandemic.” It provides a connectivity solution across the disparate landscape of structured, unstructured and formatted data through multiple different interfaces.
The data is then extrapolated and orchestrated into a meaningful and actionable fashion so that healthcare caregivers are enabled. Ascom strives to support healthcare facilities and provide them with the best mix of technology to enable them to provide the necessary healthcare responses at rapid speeds.