The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and ICT Geelong recently hosted the Regional eHealth Innovation – Making it Real event. Hosted at the Geelong Football Club on 19 November, over 90 attendees from across Victoria attended to hear how the growing eHealth sector is changing the face of health and care – particularly for those in regional and rural settings.
The event consisted of three key presentations from health and IT leaders. Head of Hills Health Solutions, Peta Jurd, spoke about her company’s transformation towards innovative eHealth technology, while Geelong Network Champion at Transport Accident Commission, Robin Miles, discussed how the Geelong technology and health sectors are working together to create a healthier community.
The third presentation at Regional eHealth Innovation – Making it Real, was by iCareHealth Managing Director, Chris Gray, who highlighted how technology can drive productivity, efficiency and the delivery of care in the Australian health sector. During his presentation, Chris discussed how important full integration of data is throughout the entire health continuum. The introduction of cloud computing has been transformative in meeting this goal, as it creates an efficient way to transfer data between pharmacies, GPs, aged care providers and consumers, without the need for costly infrastructure. Of particular importance in the integration of comprehensive medical records between health providers, as medication errors can be dangerous to consumers and can result in substantial regulatory repercussions for providers. It is therefore vital that consumer information is communicated correctly in an aged care and home care setting to reduce clinical risk.
In recognising the need for a connected health care network in Australia, Telstra created Telstra Health; a business dedicated to bringing together an integrated electronic health model across the wider health care system. As a result, Telstra Health acquired iCareHealth in November 2014, with Chris explaining that Telstra Health has the resources and commitment to add further to this strategy by acquiring other leading health care software businesses. By doing so, Telstra Health will integrate these pieces in order to connect clinicians, administrators, patients and healthcare entities to a robust communication and collaboration framework. Chris explained to the audience that with the backing of Telstra Health, iCareHealth now provides the best of both worlds to the aged care sector; the resources and stability that comes with Australia’s largest telecommunications company, with the same dedicated iCareHealth team our clients know and trust.
While the wider healthcare market growth is expected to remain lower than GDP due to adverse demographics and labour costs, healthcare IT services are likely to grow at above market rates. In the short term, this growth can be attributed to the need to build efficiencies to combat budgetary constraints, such as rising labour and fixed asset costs. Another key factor is the growing corporate and governmental demand for comprehensive, integrated data, which can be used from everything from predictive modelling, to enhanced clinical governance. Thirdly, the healthcare IT sector is set to benefit in the long term from increasing consumer sophistication. With the advance of eHealth, consumers are likely to demand greater control and visibility of their personal and family health information, while becoming more active in their healthcare decision making process.
To simplify the process for those looking to implement an eHealth solution, Chris provided the audience with some key learnings iCareHealth clients have offered to assist other providers before they begin an eHealth implementation process.
1. Understand the eHealth terminology
Both the health and IT sectors are prolific users of acronyms, so one aged care provider explained that absorbing as much terminology as possible early on saved them time in the long run.
2. Resources are key
One provider offered that smaller organisations may see some staff reluctance in the take up of an eHealth solution, particularly if they do not have access to appropriate internal resources. It is therefore important that smaller organisations are prepared and appropriately resourced before an implementation begins.
3. Prepare care and nursing staff for the changes
Adequately preparing care and nursing staff is vital for a smooth transition to an eHealth solution, with Director of Care at Donwood Community Aged Care, Lyn Hornsby, offering,
‘We want staff to understand that the switch to an eHealth system will be the key enabler in providing them with greater visibility across resident’s health information’.
4. Selling the benefits of eHealth to residents
Chief Executive of mecwacare, Michele Lewis, offered this learning around informing aged care residents about eHealth,
‘There is a general lack of knowledge about eHealth across the community so our role at the moment is to educate both residents and their families, and to raise awareness around how eHealth will improve how we manage their health information’.
5. Buy-in from the wider health care sector
CEO of Lynden Aged Care, Ann Turnbull, believes that the uptake of eHealth will be largely driven by GPs, therefore it is likely that in time people will register for their own eHealth record prior to entering into the aged care sector. This will increase consumer desire for broader eHealth solutions.
With the use of eHealth, health care providers are able to access and manage centralised, detailed consumer data. By running events such as Regional eHealth Innovation – Making it Real, regional and rural health, and IT providers are given the opportunity to come together to explore the future of fully integrated eHealth management.
Curious to learn more about how technology can help aged care providers manage consumer data? Contact us today.