Government Insight: Implementation of Digitising Health strategy

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To discuss some of the implementation challenges associated with the Victorian Government’s Digitising health strategy, we welcome the sponsor of the strategy, Andrew Saunders, Director Digital Health & Health Sector CIO.
Digitising health: Andrew Saunders, Director Digital Health & Health Sector CIO
Andrew Saunders, Director Digital Health & Health Sector CIO

The Digitising health strategy guides health ICT activity and investment for Victorian health services to realise person-centred health and wellbeing. It describes a list of potential digital health projects to advance this vision.

The strategy identifies large-scale programs of work requiring multi-year investment to achieve the vision of person-centred care and which cannot be addressed in a single stage of effort. The greatest challenge with implementation is delivering these projects in an incremental and pragmatic manner across health service providers to realise the expected benefits, demonstrating the return on investment, and adding to the digital health foundation platforms.

Investment is initially targeted towards the most critical areas across the health system, helping deliver benefits that prove the program’s benefits and support refinement. For example, there will be a proof of concept trial for the statewide patient index, and a staged approach to implement Electronic Medical Records (EMR), where effort will be staggered over multiple tranches.

A staggered approach manages risks, recognising the transformational change management facing health services and clinicians, while applying an ‘agile’ delivery model to ensure that programs are appropriately governed and projects are delivered prior to further investment. This in turn helps mitigate any potential risks of health service providers becoming disenfranchised during the implementation process.

The strategy sets out a pathway for improvement, focusing initially on the acute health sector to target the areas of most immediate need. Over subsequent periods of investment, the focus will be broadened to address non-acute and community healthcare. The data captured by digital technologies such as EMRs, will inform health system performance, assist with better clinical decisions and be available for bioinformatics and genomic medical research to invest in initiatives that focus on prevention and early intervention.

The Digitising health strategy will be refreshed each year, updating the sequence of investment to realise Victoria’s health reform agenda.

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