ACT set to deliver major overhaul of health services tech


The ACT Government has released a new digital investment strategy aimed at improving the quality and safety of healthcare delivery as part of the Territory’s wider 2019-20 Digital Health Strategy.

The Digital Health Strategy maps out “a ten-year vision” and investment focus for ACT’s health service, including a range of new technologies for doctors, nurses, and patients.

Meegan Fitzharris, the Territory’s Minister for Health and Wellbeing, said the rollout of 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.”

“[This] strategy is about getting ahead of the game and enabling a seamless integration of new technologies and advances in healthcare,” she said.

“This is a Strategy that gives patients, clinicians and health care managers peace of mind.”

Backed by a $41 million commitment from the Government, the scheme will include the rollout of a new ACT Health mobile phone app, which will feature real-time waiting times for Canberra’s Walk-in Centres and Emergency Departments.

The app will provide patients with access details for all ACT Emergency Departments and Walk-in Centres, providing regularly updated information about average waiting times, the number of people waiting, and 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,” Fitzharris said.

Other practical initiatives include an electronic way-finding system within hospitals that will help consumers check-in to their appointments at various kiosks at both Canberra Hospital and the University of Canberra Hospital, as well as new devices for doctors and nurses to reduce the number of devices staff need to carry around and streamline clinical staff communications.

According to Fitzharris, this includes a personal duress alarm, “and more applications to help manage their day-to-day workload, helping keep our staff safe and saving them time during the day.”

Underpinning the overall strategy are three primary goals that will drive future investments: to deliver patient-centred care; enable smart, efficient health services through the latest technology; and ensure the digital opportunities 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,” Fitzharris said.

To achieve these goals, the Digital Health Strategy highlighted three key technologies to receive direct investment: a revised digital clinical system, which will transform the existing paper-electronic hybrid record system into “a single, comprehensive, contemporary, trusted, real-time person-centred clinical record”; a new laboratory information system (LIS) to improve diagnostic and medication services, providing clinicians with “timely and efficient access to patient test results”; replacement of the PICS (Purchasing and Inventory Control System) for processing healthcare purchase orders and supply chain activities; and an overhaul of the longstanding switchboard and paging systems to improve messaging and communication across the Canberra Health Service.

The development of the Digital Health Strategy was completed in consultation with ACT Health Directorate, Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce staff, health professional organisations, colleges, societies and health consumer representative groups.