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Queensland Health's Dr Richard Ashby outlines vision, tech play

Jennifer O'Brien | July 17, 2017
Lessons learned from payroll disaster -- and previous clinician and clinical administrator roles -- to help direct the ship

"It is a fully digital hospital. All of its vital signs, monitors, for example, all of its ECG machines, anesthesia machines, are all integrated with the electronic medical record. And the hospital did achieve Stage 6 EMRAM validation in May, which is an external validation of your levels and status. So the outcomes are very good."

Stage 6 EMRAM is a result of focus, good direction and a steadfast commitment from leadership.

Ashby said the results from going digital are already measurable and tangible.

"We have seen a significant improvement in productivity, in other words, our throughput in the hospital. Our physical waiting lists at the PAH is at a record low. Outpatient waiting list is at a record low. Emergency department performance is at a record high.

"We've seen significant improvements in quality across all indicators, so reduced serious falls, reduced medication errors, and reduced incidence of VTE (venous thromboembolism). Essentially, the benefits are proving to be matching the business case - if not bettering the business case."

Admittedly, he said the hospital project since 2014 has taken up about half of his time, but that should ease off now that the project is well underway.

"The rollout is more stabilised now because we were building a system with the vendor. But now the heavy lifting has been done so we expect the rollout to be easier. We will take the lessons learned and apply them."

Meanwhile, other notable large projects taking place at Queensland Health include replacing the financial system with SAP S/4HANA; and replacing the laboratory system. "They are two big projects worth over $50 million. The financial system replacement is in excess of $100 million."

Additionally, he said the department is also implementing Windows 10 Office 365 across the organisation to 90,000 staff.

"That's also a very big project," he says. "There's also a big infrastructure refresh on the cards. This year we'll probably be working on about $60 million or $70 million worth of infrastructure maintenance and refreshment [projects]."


Digital love at the heart of healthcare 

Thoughts about digital transformation are ever-present and permeates Ashby's daily thinking.

"The digital transformation in healthcare is accelerating. I think it's inexorable and it is absolutely necessary. We cannot address the major agendas in healthcare with our health services not being digitised," he says.

"If we are going to address integrated care, we need to be digital; if we're going to address precision medicine, we have to be digital. If we're going to have high reliability healthcare organisations, we have to be digital. If we want to have intelligent healthcare systems, we have to be digital," he said.

'We also have to match the transformation and the digital world of our consumers. So the internet of things, the mobility, smart devices -- all of those things are happening in consumer world, and consumers expect the health system to be matching in the way they interact with other businesses like industry, banking and commerce. They want to interact with the health system in that way as well."


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