Traditional models of healthcare delivery are no longer sustainable.

Seventy-five per cent of Australians over 65 have at least one chronic condition. Ineffective management of heart disease, asthmas, diabetes and other chronic diseases costs the Australian health care system more than $320 million per year in avoidable hospital admissions.

There is an ever-widening gap between care demand and resource availability. Digital technologies are an opportunity to respond to this problem.

The growth in digital health has provided the opportunity to utilise curated data sets collected during routine care to drive improvements in care and management through clinical informatics research and capability development.

Digital Health Learning requires multidisciplinary input from clinical informatics, data science, wearable technologies, clinical service provision and education and information systems. This GCRN is focused on improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare for Australians.

A/Prof. Clair Sullivan (CHSR) leads the Queensland Digital Health Research Group and is the Clinical Informatics Director (Research) at Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS).

Digital Health is a Global Change Research Program sponsored by GCI.

A/Prof. Claire Sullivan

Discover more about the award-winning Queensland Digital Health Research Group at Metro North Hospital and Health Service.

UQ duo get Premier’s tick for excellence

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.