Actions Across Australia Case Study – Enhanced Models of Care

5. Digitally-enabled models of care that drive improved accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency.

Below is a summary of some of the actions government, clinical, technology, industry and advocacy organisations told the Australian Digital Health Agency are already underway that showcase digitally-enabled models of care that drive improve accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency.  

Access to healthcare wherever you are

The National Digital Health Strategy identifies a number of key health reform areas that are prioritised for testing evidence based digitally enabled initiatives. Further embedding telehealth into clinical consultations, particularly in rural and remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, was identified as one of the six priority areas. 

Telehealth initiatives are being developed to benefit rural children thanks to a research partnerships between the Royal Far West, the Child Behaviour Research Clinic and School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. 

The collaboration with the Child Behaviour Research Clinic will include a transportable model of early intervention to improve access and outcomes for children with early-onset mental health issues. The School of Public Health will focus on research and knowledge translation of the value of telehealth to Telecare users, payers and clinicians. This work will help Telecare Coordinators improve access, quality and sustainability of services.

The Northern Territory Department of Health is using Telehealth video conferencing (VC) systems to allow patients in remote areas to connect with healthcare providers in major centres. TeleHealth NT includes seven service domains: Tele-Critical Care, Tele-Specialist Clinics, Tele-Workforce Support, Tele-Complex Case Management, Tele-Inpatient Care, Tele-Family Support and Virtual Visitations, and Tele-Sonography. Queensland Health’s Telehealth Program deploys over 4000 hardware and software systems in over 200 hospitals and community facilities, supporting more than 70 clinical specialties and sub-specialties across the state.

SA Health’s Virtual Clinic Care network enables remote monitoring to provide early detection of symptom changes which can then trigger early intervention. Healthdirect’s Video Call has been adopted by three jurisdictions to deliver telehealth services across a range of health services. This program is to be further expanded to additional jurisdictions and healthcare settings. 

The Loddon Mallee Rural Health Alliance, which covers central to north west Victoria, has been leading the Geri-Connect project. This project supports the provision of geriatric medicine across inpatient and residential aged care settings. Using a telehealth funded model, the project addresses time constraints faced by GPS, and means that patients in residential aged care facilities who may not have had access to geriatric medicine services are now being seen.

The Telehealth Victoria Community of Practice (COP) is a telehealth focused resource that provides information, online forums and workshops for anyone interested in telehealth. The COP aims to facilitate collaboration and networking, provide a hub for finding resources and expertise, and enable sharing of skills and knowledge between experienced and new telehealth users.

The Royal Flying Doctors Service has built on their experience of providing comprehensive health services to some of the most isolated remote and rural locations  with a 24/7 telehealth service, knows as Remote Consultations. A Hunter Medical Research Institute nutrition project called ‘Nutrition Connect’ supported by nib foundation and the University of Newcastle will use telehealth technology to bring a dietitian "virtually" into the homes of rural families. The focus will be on children aged 5 to 11 who need more support to improve eating habits and achieve a healthy weight. nib has been developing and trialing innovative models of care including involvement in Patient-Centred Medical Homes, delivering chronic disease management programs, and offering telehealth services amongst other digital innovations. 

Everlight Radiology’s Teleradiology provides improved patient care by allowing radiologists to provide health care without needing to be in the location as the consumer. Many specialist are located in large metropolitan areas working during daytime hours. Teleradiology allows for trained specialists to be available at all times giving those consumers who lives in regional and rural Australia chance to have direct access to specialists in the same way Telehealth is providing options for consumers. Arthritis Australia has remote and online consultations whilst another leading health advocacy group has started using telehealth consultations with specialist and other allied health professionals which they will be able to claim a Medicare rebate for. 

Blamey Saunders clients have access to a continuum of hearing health care from self-help online to teleaudiology assistance to audiology clinic. Their model blends clinic and online services based on digital tools that are usable by consumers and clinician alike, allowing the consumer to choose the model of care they prefer and that is most effective for them. The Breast Cancer Network Australia is leading an initiative to bring information resources that are primarily in printed form on to mobile devices in an effort to make them more accessible and relevant to consumer no matter where they live.

The next generation covered by digital health from birth 

The Australian Digital Health Agency is partnering with eHealth NSW and the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) to establish the National Children’s Digital Health Collaborative.

The Collaborative is exploring how every child in Australia can have the option of a comprehensive digital health record from the time they are conceived, through those critical first years and adolescence; readily accessible by parents and healthcare providers and ultimately for that individual throughout their life.

The Collaborative comprises around 400 clinicians, consumers, IT experts, and researchers from across Australia and is aimed at making a positive impact on children’s health and wellbeing. This wide variety of experts, will co-design and test a way for parents and healthcare providers to easily access standardised information on a child’s health and development. This initiative will test how information can be captured not only through a child’s interaction with the health system and other services such as school immunisation programs, but also through their mother’s relevant interactions during her pregnancy. 

Parents and caregivers will no longer have to search for paper records of their children’s health records thanks to a national digital version of the ‘baby books’. The digital record will keep track of key childhood interventions such as immunisations.

Read more - National Digital Health Strategy Activities