The new Bendigo Hospital is the largest regional hospital development in Victoria. The architecture award-winning building is home to 372 inpatient beds; 72 same-day beds; 11 new operating theatres; an integrated cancer centre and an 80-bed psychiatryservices facility including a parent-infant unit.
As the physical build was taking place, the hospital’s technology leaders were constructing a new vision for healthcare. The result makes Bendigo one of only a handful of ‘digital hospitals’ in regional Australia, where technology is bringing huge benefits to patients, their families, and medical staff.
“The vision was to build a digital hospital, paper light, based on four key technology enablers – an electronic medical record, mobility, unified communications underpinned by a medical grade network – resilient, reliable, secure,” explains Bendigo Health’s chief information officer and executive director innovation and digital services Bruce Winzar.
To that end, the hospital has implemented a “paper light” operation, with new systems integrated with legacy applications, to “provide a single data view of the patient record across the organisation”.
“The hospital has focused on leveraging all the new technologies – over 40 new technology systems, 90 different transactional interfaces, all integrated including medical devices, legacy and new clinical systems, as well as third party systems across a single infrastructure platform,” Winzar adds.
The technology implementation was followed by a review by technical and clinical staff of 22 models of care.
“New work practices leveraged the new infrastructure and mobile environment, nurses carry a single mobile device to send and receive all patient notifications, clinicians use video conferencing to manage patients from regional hospitals, patients order food from real-time menus and watch the latest videos on demand through smart interactive entertainment systems, and patient data is accessed electronically including integrated messages from pathology and radiology providers,” Winzar explains.
“Patient digital medical record is stored in the cloud and clinicians can view the patient record externally through secure access to the cloud,” he adds.
The journey towards becoming a truly digital hospital has been a “quantum shift” for clinicians, and has come with big changes to work roles, place and processes.
“The digital hospital project was not about the technology rather the change in the way clinicians behave and patients experience healthcare, therefore change management was the single most difficult aspect of the project, followed by clinical engagement,” says Winzar.
To achieve the changes, the project was set up as a clinical one, not an ICT one, Winzar says.
As well as extensive change communications from Winzar and his team – including on Twitter, Facebook, internal intranet, blogs and regular ICT events and meetings – new dedicated roles such as CMIO, CNMIO, CAHIO were created to support the change and engagement process along with a new governance body called Clinical Informatics Governance Group to oversee and direct all clinical changes.
“This new structure has been very successful and all doctors, clinicians and staff are onboard and ready for the journey to a fully digital hospital,” Winzar adds.
Staff across the business have been put on health informatics courses – 40 are now certified health informaticians – to help them understand the principles and importance of data, standards, security, integrity and why quality data underpins information, business intelligence and future initiatives like AI.
“This is a first and Bendigo Health now has the most qualified informatics personnel of any hospital in Australia,” Winzar says.
Communication is key to being a successful CIO, Winzar says, that and being yourself.
“Be technical when you have to be, be open and transparent with colleagues and staff – it builds trust – and use simple language to communicate key messages. Be business savvy and use business terms when communicating to senior management and be well prepared and only use facts,” he says.
Winzar recalls once presenting to management for an internet upgrade.
Although everyone in the room “acknowledged that internet speed was slow” and “everyone was onboard” funding for the upgrade was ultimately denied.
The reason? “I failed to identify the business benefit,” Winzar explains.
“Business is not concerned with a technical internet bandwidth upgrade, but they are concerned with better customer service and experience, improved sales, improved workplace efficiencies and productivity,” he says.
“CIO’s are business leaders, change and transformational agents, innovators, strategists, visionaries, talent scouts and most of all must be effective communicators,” Winzar adds.