Tuesday, 05 May 2020 12:39

Austin Health deploys Microsoft Teams in fight against COVID-19 Featured

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Austin Health medical team protected from COVID 19 Austin Health medical team protected from COVID 19

Melbourne-based Austin Health is using Microsoft ‘s unified communication and collaboration platform Teams to undertake a major digital transformation, with deployment of the solution well advanced when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The health service says Teams Navigator, a smart governance app developed by Microsoft partner FiveP, ensures “connection with no compromise of compliance”, allowing hospital personnel to use Teams to tackle even sensitive matters such as patient care.

The hospital said the urgent need to allow office personnel to work from home and clinical staff to “collaborate and communicate fast and safely dramatically accelerated deployment plans – and in less than two weeks 8,500 people were brought into Teams”.

“Teams helps clinical teams and executives connect rapidly regardless of where they are - whether in a hospital, in consulting rooms or working from home. Usage is surging – just three weeks into the deployment Teams was host to 550 meetings, 1,000 phone calls and 16,000 chats in one day,” Microsoft said.

“Hospital executives are running operational meetings through Teams, training staff in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) through Teams, and just a week after deployment, doctors felt comfortable enough to use Teams to run virtual ward rounds, allowing them to discuss a patient’s progress safely and securely.

“The ability to hold secure virtual consultations is particularly important for multi-disciplinary teams – for example clinical teams attending to a patient with a broken wrist who might also test positive for COVID-19 need to bring together (while keeping them physically distant) a range of specialists to help drive better outcomes.”

According to Alan Pritchard, Austin Health’s Director of EMR and ICT Services this represents a major change in the way that hospital personnel can connect and collaborate.

Pritchard said that previously there was “no single directory of everybody’s phone numbers; most clinical staff don’t have their own landline, but instead they have a personal mobile that they might not share widely to protect their privacy”.

“Where different lists of contacts might have existed in different departments across the hospital, they were often incomplete and may not always be up to date.

“In terms of collaboration, traditionally this has involved complex email trails with multiple documents and difficulty managing version control.

“Now the Teams solution means people can share and collaborate on documents and reports knowing that any changes are automatically synched.

“Also they can phone, any of those people, and they don't need to know their mobile phone number or their desk phone or where they are - they just push the button and connect. Those two things sound really simple, but if you go back to what communication in a large complex hospital was like previously, that is a massive enabler, especially in a highly dynamic situation such as the one we're in right now,” Pritchard concluded.

 


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a 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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