Digital Transformation within Healthcare: Closing the Engagement Gap

Michael Berndt, Chief Customer Experience Officer, eHealth Queensland, Queensland Health

Michael Berndt, Chief Customer Experience Officer, eHealth Queensland, Queensland Health

Digital transformation is having a profound effect on one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world – Healthcare. The relationship between patients and clinicians is changing. Technology is now the third person in the room. Digital innovation is helping to reduce delays in the patient journey by providing real-time analytics to health care professionals and allowing patients to be actively involved in their own health management.

Part of that digitization is the replacement of paper-based clinical charts. In digital hospitals, this is what’s known as an electronic medical record. This allows healthcare professionals to simultaneously access and update patient information as it happens.

Here in Queensland, we’re digitizing our public hospitals. A key benefit of this digitization for Queensland’s public health system is not only helping to improve population health outcomes but is also key to driving efficiencies and managing the rising costs of healthcare due to an aging population and higher rates of chronic disease.

As the second-largest state in Australia, Queensland faces the challenge of connecting the city with the bush and overcoming the ‘tyranny of distance’. It’s an ever-present barrier for public health agencies like Queensland Health. As the Chief Customer Experience Officer for eHealth Queensland, the centralized ICT service provider, I’m mindful of the way technology is made available across the state for each of our 16 health districts. We also need to consider how we effectively engage with our end-users to ensure we avoid the risk of a two-tiered health system between the city and the bush.

Bringing the art of what’s possible to rural and regional Queensland

Effective engagement of clinicians in the digital health transformation agenda is essential for successful change, organizational performance and ultimately improved patient outcomes. With a digital ecosystem seven times that of Great Britain, this is easier said than done!

One of Queensland Health’s key engagement events held each year is the eHealth Expo, which showcases the latest in digital innovation and healthcare technology. The event attracts thousands of Queensland Health staff with the majority from South East Queensland. That begs the question – what about regional staff who are simply too far away? To combat this diverse and dispersed population, my idea of an eHealth Queensland ICT Roadshow was established.

It’s aim?

• To improve communications between eHealth Queensland and the hospital districts knows as the Hospital and Health Services (HHSs) with an opportunity to both educate the HHSs on eHealth Queensland services but also to listen to their feedback on issues and initiatives.

• Allow rural and regional healthcare staff to gain a first-hand understanding of innovation from the ICT Industry and co-create new digital healthcare delivery solutions.

• Support Queensland Health’s digital future.

The initial ICTRoadshow trialled in Rockhampton was a collaborative partnership betweenindustry, customers and our business to improve digital literacy and advocacy with those that we traditionally would not get an opportunity to engage with. Feedback from health staff was overwhelmingly positive with many appreciative of the opportunity to engage directly with technology and service providers in a hometown setting.

Making digital solutions come to life

The challenge of traditional Technology Expos is that many showcases tend to be vendor-specific and represent only a proportion of a clinical workflow or a patient journey rather than an integrated episode of care. As part of our regional ICT Roadshows and our main eHealth Expo event, we have developed a customer experience immersion center targeting the key challenges hospitals face on a day-to-day basis. This includes aspects which can be addressed by the integration of new and existing digital solutions.

At the eHealth Expo earlier this year, we showcased a patient falls prevention system. The scenario involved a patient with a high risk of falls, lowering the bed rail on a smart bed. Alerts were then sent to different technologies including smartphones, badges, software, digital screens with the bed then issuing verbal instructions. In addition, caregivers could also speak remotely to the patient to minimize the risk of falling. This type of scenario showcased the benefit of technology in comparison to traditional patient rooms which have no visibility or notification system once health staff leaves the room.

Our second concept was in relation to asset and people tracking. People and equipment can be tracked in real-time to improve visibility, safety, efficiency, and patient outcomes. Digital touch screens make it easy to search and retrieve information quickly whilst integration with staff communications such as telephones and voice‑activated devices enable effective communications. Alerts can be generated when assets like a portable ultrasound are moved within the hospital. This tracking system results in improved workflows and efficiency in clinical delivery, as clinicians can focus on treatment instead of finding equipment.

Both demonstrations at our eHealth Expo took some weeks to develop with our industry partners but provided high value and implementable solutions that addressed specific business challenges. We then had the opportunity to test these with our customers and further co-design improvements.

Creating a customer experience center

If you are considering implementing a customer experience center in some form or another you should consider the following:

1. Look to incorporate and leverage your existing customer experience artifacts such as journey maps, personas, service blueprints etc.

2. Start small and tackle one or two of your customers key business problems that could be resolved by a simple solution.

3. Take a true partnering approach with vendors and allow them to bring their collective expertise and innovation to the table.

4. Use a ‘sandbox’ environment to allow a level of engagement that is self-paced and experiential by design.

By closing the engagement gap through the utilization of a Human Centred Design approach, we’re helping our business discover opportunities to improve services and support that will enable Queensland Health to deliver better outcomes for Queenslanders.

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