Home The Quarterly 2017 Letter to the Editor

The Quarterly

Letter to the Editor Print E-mail

RE: Driving Digital Innovation in the Public Health Sector

Dr Eleftheriou’s article on driving digital innovation in the public health sector, which was originally presented at the Healthcare of the Future Conference in 2016, led me to think about healthcare innovation in the New South Wales public health system. As Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director for Quality Improvement and Innovation at Austin Health in Melbourne, Dr Eleftheriou asserts that digital innovation is inevitable in today’s world and gives an account of the digital journey Austin Health has taken over the past decade, from a paper medical record in 2009 to its imminent achievement of an Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model score of 6 out of 7. Currently in Australia only one hospital, St Stephen’s Hospital in Hervey Bay in Queensland, has achieved Stage 6 status which describes a fully integrated digital hospital1. The pinnacle, Stage 7, represents the presence of “an advanced electronic patient record, paperless environment and capability for community healthcare information exchange” and hospitals with this status can be found in Singapore, the USA and Europe.
Digital innovation in the NSW public health system certainly feels inevitable and is formally outlined in eHealth’s Strategy for NSW Health 2016 - 20262. As increasing numbers of NSW public hospital sites extend the functionality of their existing Cerner electronic medical record (eMR), it is easy to lose sight of the big picture as wave after wave of eMR projects roll over health districts accompanied with constant streams of stakeholder consultation, training and Go Lives.
The reasoning behind all of this is outlined in eHealth’s Strategy for NSW Health 2016 – 2026. The current stage, called “Building Consistent Foundations” is expected to take up to four years or until 2020 to achieve and during this period the aim is to deliver consistent foundational capabilities across the state which includes implementation of core components such as electronic medical records, diagnostic solutions and robust infrastructure. Only when this has been achieved can the fun stuff such as integrated and personalised healthcare become realised. The vision of a healthcare system where patients experience personalised healthcare and the health needs of the population are proactively identified and managed is expected to take up to 10 years to achieve or around 2026. While these projections may seem like an eternity, it is reassuring to reflect on examples such as Austin Health, which in eight years transformed from a completely paper based medical record to almost becoming a completely digital hospital.
Dr Christian Ghan
RACMA Candidate

1.  Himssanalyticsasia.org. (2017). HIMSS Analytics Asia Pacific - About Us - Press Releases - Press Release 19. [online] Available at: http://www.himssanalyticsasia.org/about/pressRoom-pressrelease19.asp [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017]

2.  Healthshare, (2016). eHealth Strategy for NSW Health 2016-2026. [online] Healthshare. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/eHealth/Documents/eHealth-Strategy-for-NSW-Health-2016-2026.pdf [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017]
Last Updated on Friday, 15 September 2017 16:18