The Government of Western Australia published its 2020-2030 WA Health Digital Strategy, a 10-year plan designed to guide and drive technological reform for health services across the state.

The 54-page strategy guide envisions an electronic medical record system as the foundation for many of new and innovative digital technologies planned.

The strategy will also prioritise investment in new clinical decision support infrastructure, as well as the delivery of improved laboratory and medical imaging systems across the state.

The proposed technology initiatives range from telehealth and remote patient monitoring to predictive analytics, mobile workforce computing and artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Virtual care, where consultations are informed by real-time patient information from the EMR and Internet of Things devices, alongside linked data repositories for researchers and data scientists, were among the future-state outcomes targeted through the digital transformation.

At the core of the proposal is digitally enabled public health system, which ranges from health promotion, protection and disease prevention to the acute clinical environment as well as in corporate systems and processes.

Within a patient-centric approach, the strategy plans improving user-centricity, modernization and interoperability between systems, including care coordination platform across multiple settings.

In particular, workforce and health system communication, collaboration and efficiency will be improved through the implementation of a number of in-progress and new initiatives over the next decade.

The report noted seamless communication is needed across the broader health system, from primary care, community health, and aged care through to acute care; with work flows providing real-time, contextual information to patients, carers, clinicians and other health staff.

"Health is operating in an era of considerable change and we are committed to using digital technology to provide more agile patient-centred care and to address the future challenges faced by the health system, Health Minister Roger Cook said in a statement.

"Under a digitally enhanced system, health staff will have the ability to work more flexibly and effectively and clinicians will have more time to spend with patients," he said.

Technology giant Microsoft is already working to accelerate the digital transformation of WA’s Health Support Services organization through the deployment of its Office 365 software to 45,000 staff in 500 sites across the state.

The HSS serves as the WA health system’s shared services arm providing cyber security, storage and application support, central computing power and connectivity for all of WA Health.

The news followed an April announcement from networking services specialist NEC Australia that it will upgrade more than 500 health sites by 2020 for the WA Department of Health, as part of their HealthNext ICT transformation program.

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