UQ duo get Premier’s tick for excellence

3 Feb 2021

A/Prof. Clair Sullivan

Two University of Queensland researchers were members of the Digital Metro North Hospital team that won the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the ‘Be a responsive government’ category.

UQ Centre for Health Services Research experts Associate Professor Clair Sullivan and Dr Magid Fahim played key roles in Digital Metro North’s response to COVID-19 by taking responsibility for the health of more than one million Queenslanders, including at the airport and seaport

The judges of the award identified the cutting-edge technologies that underpinned Digital Metro North’s response.

Dr Fahim said that people arriving at Australian airports needed to be screened and put into self-isolation.

“The team recognised that was a laborious process which involved the paper capture of arrival cards, so they built an application which digitised that process,” Dr Fahim said.

“We were able to capture all this information accurately and completely at the port of arrival.

“We could then re-use this information to help health services plan to look after these individuals by knowing how many people there were, where they were and how long they were going to be in self-quarantine for.

“The screening outcome notification app was an application we developed to be able to report back to individuals on their COVID-19 testing results.”

The application enabled the large number of test results from hundreds of individuals to be looked up automatically.

Those tested were then sent text messages of the results promptly, which enabled clinicians to move on to other people.

Associate Professor Sullivan said data analytic platforms were used to create real time modelling which enabled the team to understand the disease burden and manage our resources effectively.

“The key to the success of the response to COVID-19 was not about technology itself,” Dr Sullivan said.

“The team’s response to COVID-19 has been about people.

“It is about using the applications that we have, pointing them rapidly to COVID-19 and having people take that technology and those new ways of working, and translate it over twenty thousand staff.

“That is the way to truly achieve change of scale. Partnerships between technology and people is what is going to truly protect us from pandemics.”

A full list of Premiers’ Awards for Excellence winners and the reasons for Digital Metro North’s win can be found here.

Faculty of Medicine Communications, med.media@uq.edu.au, 3365 5118, 0436 368 746.