Now, more than ever, we are realising the benefits of technology to deliver safe, efficient and effective patient-centred healthcare. Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque explores how an integrated approach to digital enablement across the health system is supporting the delivery of clinically appropriate care that aligns to consumers’ needs.
The pandemic has increased the need to rapidly adopt new technologies and ways of working. However, clinicians are realising that using technology is only part of the transformation journey.
When co-designed appropriately, digital solutions can enable clinicians to conduct their clinical activities in a way that will ultimately improve the healthcare experiences and outcomes for patients, while also improving the experience of providing care.
Clinicians require a range of tools to ensure care is coordinated, integrated, and covers the care continuum. The key is to enable the right digital solutions so clinicians can apply these tools in an integrated way, rather than in isolation.
Working with the Ministry of Health, eHealth NSW, local health districts, specialty health networks and primary health networks, the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) is implementing integrated digital advances in healthcare that will:
- build capability and capacity across the health system
- improve health outcomes and experiences for patients, and the staff delivering care.
At a statewide level, we are seeing this with key programs, such as Patient Reported Measures, Telestroke and other virtual care initiatives, such as palliative care.
Through such programs, the ACI brings value and focus to redesigning healthcare in a way that ensures digital solutions can be embedded in a seamless and sustainable way.
For example, virtual care is no longer considered a separate tool for delivering care – virtual care is care. It shows how truly integrated digital enablement provides greater options for care delivery that is patient-centred; both in the modality of care, and the rich data that informs care, clinical improvement and better patient outcomes.
An integrated approach
At the ACI, we have brought together our key programs, teams and skills into one centralised team to accelerate digital enablement across the health system.
The new Integrated Digital Enablement Accelerator (IDEA) team brings together our Patient-Reported Measures Program, Clinician Reported Measures and Virtual Care teams to integrate digitally-enabled healthcare solutions in an accelerated and coordinated way.
Importantly, digital enablement is not about taking away the human element of healthcare; it’s about:
- ensuring our digital technologies are aimed at addressing a clinical priority
- arming clinicians with the right tools, at the time, in the right place to:
- improve efficiency
- inform practice improvements
- give choice to patients
- improve patient experiences and outcomes.
The establishment of the IDEA team will see greater collaboration and integrated approaches between our key digital programs, and will be a central point of contact and collaboration for our clinical networks who are progressing key initiatives with a digital element.
The IDEA team will be a single source for our partners to engage with the ACI on digitally-enabled programs. For example, while our partners at eHealth NSW continue to drive the development of new technology, our IDEA team will support prioritised clinical requirements, standardisation, implementation and build capability for digitally-enabled clinical care.
This approach aligns with the NSW Health Future Health strategy and is transformational for the system. We are consolidating our efforts internally to truly have impact and support greater collaboration with our stakeholders.
In our guest editorial, Karol Petrovska from the Ministry of Health, shares more about the NSW Health Virtual Care Strategy and how this will guide the collaborative response needed from the whole system, to enable the uptake and use of virtual care into clinical practice.
Congratulations to our award-winning programs and people
I would like to congratulate our Drug and Alcohol Network for their recent win at the NSW Health Awards.
The network, led by Antoinette Sedwell, won the Keeping People Healthy Award; recognising them for the Alcohol and Drug Cognitive Enhancement (ACE) program, which improves brain function for better alcohol and drug treatment outcomes. You can read more about the difference the program is making in our feature story.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, including our COVID-19 Critical Intelligence Unit, which was a finalist for the Health Research and Innovation Award; and to Dr Shannon Nott, who won the Collaborative Staff Member of the Year Award. Shannon has worked closely with our Virtual Care team as the NSW Virtual Care Accelerator's Clinical Director.
Congratulations to Dr Kim Sutherland and Dr Michelle Mulligan who've been recognised as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022.
Kim Sutherland is our Evidence Director and received a Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to NSW Health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Mulligan is a member of the ACI Board and received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to medicine, particularly to anesthesia.