SA Health tackles Covid-19 with remote collaboration deployment

SA Health is building its remote workplace collaboration capability to serve beyond the Covid-19 lockdowns, with more than 40,000 staff and clinicians hooked in to its newly deployed virtual messaging and videoconferencing platform.
 

With the state’s coronavirus numbers trending downward, SA Health said it would continue to build out its remote working capability even after Covid-19 is brought under control.

The remote access arrangements support staff working from home, on the road, or clinicians practising social distancing.

In a statement issued by Microsoft, the agency confirmed it had ramped up the use of Microsoft Teams’ remote access platform during Covid-19, offering, it said, a secure anywhere, anytime tool to communicate and collaborate.

SA Health’s chief digital officer Bret Morris said the agency had collaborated with the Office for ICT and Digital Government and Microsoft to deploy Teams across the agency.

The collaboration has meant clinicians and staff can now “access a secure, modern communication and collaboration platform from anywhere, at any time, and on any device including iOS and Android,” he said.


Ready adoption by staff

Due to its ease of use, SA Health has only had to provide minimal Teams training for staff, according to Morris.

“Clinicians and staff quickly adopted the technology, resulting in exponential growth in uptake to 13,000 users in just two weeks,” he said.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Teams was rolled out as part of the standard operating environment for SA Health desktops and laptops, giving users the option to access the service through their Android or iOS devices.

So far SA Health users have sent more than 400,000 chat messages and made upwards of 25,000 calls through the service, with these numbers expected to continue to grow, according to SA Health.

Morris said SA Health will continue to use Teams as the go-to communications and collaboration platform even after the Covid-19 crisis has subsided.


Integrating with core apps

Plans are afoot to explore how Teams can be leveraged in clinical scenarios or even integrated with SA Health’s core applications, such as Sunrise EMR, an electronic medical record system.

Among its features, Sunrise provides care teams with anywhere, anytime access to patient information through their mobile devices.

The mobile access supports point-of-care documentation and Barcode Medication Administration workflow.


A dedicated meeting place

Teams is spruiked by its maker as a “dedicated hub” for staff to chat, meet, call, and collaborate in a remote setting.

Microsoft Australia’s national technology officer, Lee Hickin, said: “The impact that SA Health has been able to achieve by its rapid deployment of Teams is impressive.

“Clinical teams have been able to communicate quickly and clearly from any device and any time, optimising patient outcomes without compromising their safety and security,” Hickin said.

SA Health is the brand name for a comprehensive portfolio of state-wide health services and agencies reporting to SA’s Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade.

This portfolio incorporates 15 entities, among these include the Department for Health and Wellbeing, SA Ambulance Service, and the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health Wellbeing.