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Dunedin plans for a digital hospital

Monday, 19 November 2018  
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Picture: An artist’s impression of a new Dunedin Hospital.

 

eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth

 

Dunedin’s new hospital will be largely paperless and will leverage technology to save time for both staff and patients, says Southern District Health Board’s executive director people culture and technology Mike Collins.

 

Collins is responsible for the technology infrastructure for the new hospital, which will be built on the former Cadbury factory site, and says the focus is currently on the ambulatory care block.

 

The building will have very little space for paper records and enable more mobile devices, as well as self-serve kiosks and sensor systems.

 

He says the view of Southern DHB’s chief medical officer Nigel Millar is that anything electronic should be part of the hospital network to create a truly digital hospital.

 

Key to the change will be ensuring the workforce are digitally literate and comfortable working in a digital environment.

 

“We are trying to implement new technologies and solutions well before the hospital opens,” Collins says.

 

“From a change management perspective, I want staff to be comfortable working in that digital environment before the doors open.”

 

His team is running workshops with clinicians and the community and taking a persona-based approach to designing the technology needed to enable better experiences for patients and staff.

 

“Health planners have run hundreds of workshops around future models of care, and running all through that is how technology can help influence improvement, flow and change,” says Collins.

 

A key question asked when looking at patient journeys is whether the person really needs to go to hospital or whether they can be cared for closer to home.

 

Valuing staff and patient time is important when planning for such a large, spread-out region, where people often have to travel for hours for specialist care, he explains.

 

This planning is not based solely around the DHB, but around the southern health system as a whole, and incorporates the region’s new Primary and Community Care Strategy.

 

“It’s about breaking down the silos between primary, community and secondary care. When you have conversations about patient pathways, you’re really talking about flows around the health system,” Collins says.

 

The region has developed a digital strategy and is working with the Ministry of Health to identify key strategic goals, such as the implementation of interoperability standards.

 

The strategy plans for the next five to six years and is in line with the South Island Alliance’s regional strategy and the Ministry’s Digital Health Strategy, which is still in draft form.

 

Collins says it involves rationalising the DHB’s large number of systems and applications and the use of health hubs to deliver more care in the regions. These would need to be supported with technology, such as telemedicine.


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