Bruce Winzar | CIO | Loddon Mallee Health Alliance & Bendigo Health Group
For a number of years, I’ve been interested in video conferencing. Video conferencing from a business perspective has traditionally been based around administrative use. I thought that we should be able to utilize video conferencing within a specialist care mode where we can change the model of care. What we looked at was how we bring video conferencing into the hospital to provide specialist care to a range of remote hospitals or regional hospitals because one of the biggest factors faced by regional hospitals is to bring specialists into the region. They certainly will not move from metropolitan areas into the country areas. We applied for some funding, and we received some government grant funding. We moved down the line of developing a highspeed broadband network from four regional remote hospitals to four metropolitan hospitals. The project was about delivering business benefit, quality patient care, and the removal of some of the transfer costs from patients within a remote location via ambulance to a metropolitan location. We had a number of business drivers that we ticked off. What we found was that the specialists in the metropolitan hospitals were extremely motivated to assist their counterparts in country areas. What we didn’t figure on was probably some jealousy or resentment that the specialists would want to work and help within a regional context. While we had a range of supportive CEOs, supportive senior clinicians, and in some instances young GPs or visiting medical officers that were straight out of the university, all understanding the technology, we just couldn’t bring the older generation of GP to the table. That is still the case. It’s an issue with country areas and regional areas where the older GPs certainly aren’t technology-savvy and aren’t necessarily interested in playing with some of the new technologies. Our virtual trauma care project is totally innovative. It’s one of only two or three within Australia. But if we don’t look at the change management processes, if we don’t allocate enough time to the workflow and we don’t allocate enough time in bringing the user along with us, then the project, while it’s quite technologically advanced, would fail.