6 May 2019

New app to help ease ED wait times part of digital health revolution

| Ian Bushnell
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A project manager with Digital Solutions Division, Sandra Millett, talks with Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris. Photo: Supplied.

ACT Health is banking on new digital tools to help ease waiting times at Canberra’s Emergency Departments and outpatient clinics.

A new mobile phone app providing people with real-time waiting times for Emergency Departments and Walk in-Centres is part of a 10-year Digital Health Strategy launched at Canberra Hospital by Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris.

Ms Fitzharris said eventually outpatients on campus would be able to receive real-time alerts on their mobile phones as a way of managing clinic queues.

Other tools include electronic way-finding to help consumers check into their appointments at various kiosks at both Canberra Hospital and University of Canberra Hospital; devices for doctors and nurses to reduce the number of devices staff need to carry around and streamline the way that all clinical staff communicate; and patient flowboards that will provide a new way of managing the movement and management of a patient’s journey throughout the hospital.

Ms Fitzharris said the Strategy would mean health care at the ACT’s hospitals and health centres would be smarter, more effective and more efficient.

She said more patient information such as x-rays and other imaging data would be available at the bedside.

“The Digital Health Strategy will ensure the ACT public health system is able to adapt as new digital technologies are made available to improve health services and clinical care,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“Backed by a $41 million commitment, this strategy is about getting ahead of the game and enabling a seamless integration of new technologies and advances in health care. This is a Strategy that gives patients, clinicians and health care managers peace of mind.”

Ms Fitzharris said the new app available would help people to access details on all ACT Emergency Departments and Walk-in Centres, providing regularly updated information about average waiting times, the number of people waiting and providing an interactive map for travel times and directions.

“This app is designed to give people timely information to make timely decisions for their health care needs, putting them at the centre of their health care,” she said.

The new electronic devices for staff had a personal duress alarm, and more applications to help manage their day-to-day workload, helping keep staff safe and saving them time during the day.

Ms Fitzharris said there were three goals underpinning the Digital Strategy that will drive future investments – patient-centred care; smart, efficient health services through the latest technology; and digital opportunities that enable more research and collaboration.

“Through this Strategy, we will increasingly be seeing technology and devices that give patients more access to and control of their own health care, in collaboration with clinicians, so they can be treated in settings outside of the hospital and increasingly in the home,” she said.

“These technological advances are changing our lives and providing further assurances that tests and results are streamlined and intricately linked to ensure faster assessments and diagnoses. An example of this is the electronic positive patient identification solution used for blood collections, which ensures that the ordered test relates to the patient before the blood is collected and the blood sample is tracked throughout the process.”

View the Strategy at: www.health.act.gov.au/digital
To download the app, go to the App Store and search for ‘ACT Health’.

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