computer desk laptop stethoscope

Boost to regional medical services

HEALTH delivery will be turned on its head in the State Budget with a new strategy to improve links between patients, doctors, community and allied health and public and private hospitals.

REGIONS will be the big winners in a new health strategy to improve links between patients, doctors, community and allied health and public and private hospitals to be announced in tomorrow’s State Budget. With particular impact on regional areas such as the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands, the Digital Health Strategy is a $475 million project to be rolled out over the next 10 years.

About $150 million will be spent in the next four years on developing a digital platform which all medical professionals can access to streamline services, speed up treatment delivery and overcome excessive or unnecessary procedures.

Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the project would mean health specialists could seamlessly communicate and share information. “In the first four years of funding, we will procure and trial a new centralised and secure Electronic Medical Record system and launch a statewide patient record viewer that connects all public and private health and care providers,’’ Mr Rockliff said.

“Critically, this will improve access to up-to-date clinical information across a range of healthcare settings. “We will also upgrade existing virtual care technologies – including telehealth – to enable more patients to receive care in their home or in their community, streamline the referral and appointment process for patients, and enhance clinical decision-making through access to advanced data and analytics.’’

Mr Rockliff said the project would deliver a range of benefits for patients, including access to convenient healthcare in local communities, improved communications about appointments, reduced waiting time for services, and less duplication of care and forms.

“It will also prevent unnecessary hospital visits, helping to keep people out of hospital when they don’t need to be there. “Importantly, upgrading our digital technologies will benefit our health professionals by providing them with the right data, in the right place, at the right time to enable them to make the best decisions on patient care.

“In doing so, the changes will free up clinicians to spend more time on clinical activities and caring for patients, and less time on administrative tasks and chasing up paperwork. “In today’s rapidly changing health environment, we recognise that modern digital health infrastructure is just as important as bricks and mortar, particularly as Tasmania’s ageing population and increased rates of chronic disease are projected to drive increased demand for hospital care in the years ahead.

“That’s why this investment represents a major step toward becoming the first Australian State with a fully integrated healthcare system that is ready to meet the challenges of the future.

“By linking public and private health services in one digitally connected network, we will transform patient experience, improve patient care, and ensure greater equity in health outcomes across Tasmania’s dispersed population.’’