Credit: Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

Credit: Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

Digital health and big data highlighted in Victoria's Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Strategic Plan

According to a press release, the Victorian Government launched the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is a roadmap to transform the Precinct into an economic powerhouse, ensuring Victoria’s medical discoveries and their economic benefits remains to benefit the Victorian community.

This strategy will create 10,000 new jobs by 2030 through an increased focus on commercialisation, unlocking the value of health data and attracting and retaining the best scientists and entrepreneurs.

The strategic plan outlines 3 major future directions for the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct to unlocking value from digital health and big data:

(1)    Implementing digital clinical systems

Following an initial investment in electronic medical records of A$16.6 million in 2017/18, the Victorian Government has committed A$123.8 million in the 2018/19 Victorian State Budget to create a single shared electronic medical records system across three of Parkville’s health services.

The Royal Children’s Hospital is the first Victorian hospital to implement a fully digital, high quality level six electronic medical record system. This system is enabling improved access to patient information and test results for doctors and nurses, and monitors when patients are eligible to participate in studies and trials, encouraging more innovation to develop better care for the future.

Building on the successful implementation of electronic medical records at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the system will be expanded to Melbourne Health, the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Electronic medical records are crucial to unlocking value from health data to achieve better patient outcomes, delivering data insights to medical researchers and encouraging innovation which leads to better care. The Victorian Government will continue to support health services to adopt digital clinical systems and electronic medical records.

(2)    Improving use of health and biomedical data

Victoria has various programs and initiatives underway to collect and use data for: clinical research and practice, safety and quality improvement, and population health monitoring.

Some data is available from sources like clinical databases, the Department of Health and Human Services, clinical registries and the Victorian Cancer Registry.

By removing barriers to safely access and share data, digital records can be transformed into actionable information.

The Victorian Government will work with precinct partners to identify current gaps and support the development of a secure world-class health data network across the precinct that addresses privacy and data ownership concerns

(3)    Mining data for impact

Automation advances, together with the growing use of electronic medical records, clinical registries and digital technologies, such as augmented intelligence, means that health and biomedical sciences are generating ever increasing volumes of rich data.

Skills and infrastructure are vital to manage, store, program, analyse and interpret the valuable insights that vast amounts of health and biomedical data can provide.

Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Office will work with precinct partners to explore collaborative approaches to developing a health analytics workforce and capability

At the same time, the Victorian Government also announced that it will fund a world-leading digital records system across three key Parkville health services, so more patients will get better, faster and safer healthcare.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced the Victorian Budget 2018/19 will include A$124 million to roll out cutting-edge electronic medical records (EMR) across the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health and Royal Women’s Hospital.

The project will link patient records at the three health services with the successful system operating at the Royal Children’s Hospital, which is already saving lives and delivering significant improvements in patient care.

“This world-class system will save Victorian lives. We cannot underestimate the value of getting real-time records to arm our medical professionals with the information they need,” said Minister Hennessy.

This world-class technology means patient records are updated in real-time, equipping our life-saving clinicians with all the information they need to provide the very best care, every step of the way.

Another benefit of using the EMR is faster care, as doctors will no longer wait for paper records and test results to wind their way through the system, from one department to the next. And fewer unnecessary, duplicated tests, less frustration and waiting for the patient who just wants a diagnosis and a treatment that works.

Most importantly, the system will also deliver safer healthcare – with fewer avoidable errors, duplications and delays to treatment – all of which can pose serious risks to patients.

“This will make life easier for our hardworking doctors and nurses and will give patients peace of mind that their medical records will be up to date and easily accessible wherever they are receiving treatment,” Minister Hennessy added.

By bringing all of Parkville’s major hospitals onto one system, a patient’s complete and up-to-date medical record will be available to their care team wherever in the precinct they receive their treatment.

It is estimated the EMR will save Victoria A$34.1 million every year once it is operational.  And just 12 months after being implemented, the Royal Children’s Hospital EMR has delivered massive benefits to patients, including: (1) a 27% reduction in medication prescribing and administration errors, (2) a 4% increase in immunisation rates for children in hospital, (3) 6,768 fewer pathology tests performed and (4) 2,414 fewer medical imaging examinations.

According to Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings, the EMR rollout is crucial to improving patient healthcare now and boosting innovation and research for even better care in the future.

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