Monday, 08 October 2018 23:24

Cloud, AI help Bendigo Health streamline mental health services

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Bendigo Health Psychiatric Services in Victoria is using a cloud-based digital clinical system to streamline its operations, boost efficiency of its teams and enhance patient services.

To enhance patient services by streamlining operations and boosting the efficiency of its teams, BHPS has co-developed and deployed a cloud based digital clinical system to support staff in caring for consumers and patients accessing the service.

As well as connecting to Bendigo Health systems, a number of innovations were delivered in the release, including the use of Microsoft Cognitive Services, to enable speech to text conversion of clinician notes.

Connection to CSIRO's Ontoserver reference sets also enables the latest in Australian clinical terminologies to be used within the clinicians workflow, to ensure the right medication and allergy terms are used.

Bianca Matthews, development and systems co-ordinator, Psychiatric Services, says the solution is transforming the delivery of services to patients.

“If our triage referral pathway is streamlined and as efficient as possible, we have access to the information that we need in real time to make critical clinical decisions around what a patient’s care needs are enabling a timely and appropriate response," Matthews said.

“We spend less time chasing the information we need…or waiting for that information to reach us with a report that comes through 24 hours later. We (now) have that information…in real time…to work with the patient – to work out and tailor our response to their immediate needs across the region.”

BHPS provides inpatient, residential and community services. The Microsoft Azure-based psychiatric service solution is focused on the latter two which together represent around 70% of the services business.

Danny Lindrea, director ICT Architecture & Applications for Bendigo Health, explained that developing the BHPS solution on Azure meant that the integration with Bendigo Health’s other systems, also on Azure, had been straightforward.

Lindrea says that as a result, information silos were avoided, ensuring a patient’s health information was readily accessible in its entirety at the point of care.

“’Phase One’ was a rewrite of our old triage system. That went live over 12 months ago. It’s been very well received. For the first time, if we triage someone via phone or in person and their follow-up treatment is to be in one of the community teams, they can see that in real time and are not reliant on a report the next morning,” Lindrea said.

As a cloud-based solution, the information is also accessible by any authorised user from any device regardless of time or location – and Bendigo Health says that flexibility is an enormous boon for staff and further mitigates the risk of treatment delays or incomplete clinical information being available at the time of critical clinical decision making.

With the new system, authorised BHPS staff now have access to real-time information regardless of location, including ready access to patient information while conducting home visits across the region.

According to Matthews, live access to information for staff working across the region is particularly important when supporting patients in crisis, increasing response times and enhancing patient safety.

And to further streamline staff access to data, BHPS has deployed a series of dashboards. Instead of next-day reports the dashboards provide real time access to information that reflect what is happening across the service at the point of care.

The second phase of the BHPS digital transformation, currently being implemented, streamlines the documentation requirements and clinical and medico-legal pathways for the organisation, and utilises Azure’s Cognitive services for speech-to-text input so clinicians can dictate letters and notes directly into the system.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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