eHealth at the centre of NSW rural health plan
NSW Health has released a draft of its rural health plan for the next five years, highlighting improvements in rural eHealth as one of its three main strategies.
The draft plan is built around three “directions” – healthy rural communities, improved rural patient experience and rural health services – and has three prime strategies, focusing on the rural health workforce, rural health infrastructure and driving improvements in rural eHealth.
NSW Health has taken on board recommendations from last year's eHealth strategy for rural and remote NSW in encouraging the six rural Local Health Districts (LHDs) to work with eHealth NSW to collaborate on implementing eHealth solutions.
This includes building greater connectivity across the service network, and grouped investment where appropriate.
A Rural eHealth Governance Group, comprising of the chief executives of the six LHDs and senior executives from eHealth NSW, has been established to develop a governance structure for rural eHealth.
There are six key initiatives, including strengthening eHealth operational and strategic governance by establishing an ICT support framework and change and adoption framework.
The recommendation to implement a Health Wide Area Network (HWAN) has been agreed to, which will set up a direct connection for all rural LHD sites into the core statewide network.
The 25 existing NSW Health internet gateways will be consolidated into three and overall capacity boosted from 1.2Gbps to 30Gbps.
A Statewide Infrastructure Program (SWIS) will include a consistent identity for all rural NSW Health employees, single sign-on to support mobility, and a consistent desktop management and application delivery tool called the System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM).
Other core infrastructure improvements include allowing rural LHDs to connect to existing telehealth systems across the state, and providing access to booking and scheduling systems and support for high definition mobile video clients. Desktop and mobile conferencing solutions will be integrated into telehealth services.
The plan also commits to the roll-out of HealtheNet, which is NSW Health's PCEHR project, pioneered in western Sydney. HealtheNet aims to deliver a patient's clinical information, including access to their PCEHR, in a consolidated view through hospital and community care software systems Cerner and CHIME.
The further implementation of Cerner throughout NSW hospitals will continue under the electronic medical record phase 2 (EMR 2) project.
It also commits to Community Health and Outpatient Care (CHOC), which will deliver a clinical information system to support community and outpatient care for Aboriginal health, aged and chronic care, allied health, child and family, community home nursing, drugs and alcohol, mental health and sexual health.
Electronic medications management will be implemented throughout the rural LHDs, in line with the NSW government's $170 million, 10-year investment in EMM systems.
A Hospital Pharmacy Product List (HPPL) will also deliver a single list of pharmaceutical products with standardised descriptions, and there will be a statewide approval system for antimicrobial stewardship.
The plan commits to supporting patient access and self-management by raising awareness of the PCEHR and moves to register patients for it through assisted registration tools, this strategy being led by the HealtheNet program in collaboration with Medicare Locals.
The plan also includes some non-clinical IT improvements, including streamlined HR and payroll, and implementing the upgrade from the existing financial management system to Oracle.
NSW Health's Health Education and Training Institute's (HETI) online services will also be boosted to deliver standardised education and assessment of staff knowledge across NSW Health.
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