Health links up with app developers for apps4nsw

NSW Health is holding a developers' day this weekend for organisations involved in its apps4nsw collaborative solutions for health program, which is running a competition to develop new apps to improve service delivery and consumer engagement with the health system.

Apps4nsw was initially established several years ago by the NSW government to find new and useful ways to deliver government information to the public via the internet and mobile devices. This year, NSW Health is taking part, running a competition in association with the Department of Finance and Services (DFS) and NSW Trade and Investment to create new web and mobile applications using healthcare data.

The apps4nsw collaborative solutions for health competition is based on challenges centred around four themes that are shaping the NSW eHealth strategy, NSW Health's CIO, Greg Wells, said. These themes are supporting clinicians, empowering consumers, enabling system change and collaborating with primary care.

“We've developed the challenge around the themes that we think are going to drive our strategy and a range of information that we think could be better viewed, analysed and consumed via mobile devices,” Mr Wells said.

“For example, through the use of new technologies we can make the policies we have around guidelines and care pathways more accessible.”

NSW Health is already involved in the primary care area and consumer empowerment with a mobile app for its electronic Blue Book. The solution, designed by NSW Health clinicians, general practice and consumer representatives and developed by Deloitte, allows new mothers to receive reminders for immunisations and health checks for their babies as well as growth charts with height, weight and head circumference parameters.

Mr Wells said 65 new mothers are now using the app from two maternity units, with 20 more pre-registered. The eBlue Book itself is an electronic version of the My First Health Record given to all parents of newborn children in the state. Mr Wells said NSW Health was in discussions with The Department of Health and Ageing and NEHTA on a wider rollout of the eBlue Book and the app.

“We think solutions such as the Blue Book not only provide consumers with better information from our hospitals and primary care, but enable a two-way interaction where consumers can share information such as pre-health checks, questionnaires and notes for discussion with the GPs,” he said.

In terms of system change, the idea behind apps4nsw is to bring together some of the data currently available across government departments to create something new and useful for the system and for consumers.

“While there are already a large number of wellness apps on the market, we are attempting to create valuable information to the community by potentially combining these ideas with NSW Health-specific information and services,” Mr Wells said.

Now, the challenge is up to the app development community to come up with some bright ideas. At a networking event recently, a number of participants in the project showed off their initial ideas, which included one from a distributor of orthopaedic surgical devices that has proposed a new supply chain solution to streamline bookings for devices.

Another is a company that has worked in data mining and predictive modelling for private health data, which it says could be applied to the public health sector to assist GPs and consumers to make informed decisions about providers and hospitals.

The Blacktown Molecular Research Laboratory is interested in developing an app to provide information on drug interactions with other drugs, foods and herbal medicines. MIMS already provides this service to doctors, but this idea is for consumers and would allow them to find the information simply by scanning in a product's barcode.

Mr Wells said in addition to the generic challenges listed on the apps4nsw website, his team was likely to upload some specific challenges that NSW Health is interested in solving but thinks are better solved by people already in the business of mobile content and mobile applications.

“This weekend there is a development day for the participants to ask some questions, spend some time developing ideas based on de-identified data and a cross-industry panel will judge solutions in early December,” he said.

“At this stage our objective is to uncover innovative concepts and ideas, and companies we could potentially collaborate with in the future. I see this style of engagement and making our information more mobile is a key part of our strategy. I am also interested in trying to formalise this approach on an ongoing basis.”

More information is available on the NSW government's data.nsw website, a new central catalogue of NSW public sector data published online.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # David Toy 2012-12-01 13:42
There is much that can be done in primary care to shape patient treatment intervention using electronic screening tools.
Visit to view 4 apps that may help guided targeted intervention for musculoskeletal pain.

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