Bendigo Hospital is one of Australia’s first to build a ‘hospital in the cloud’, deploying technology to change the traditional patient-doctor relationship.
The hospital houses 372 inpatient beds, 72 same-day beds, 11 new operating theatres, an integrated cancer centre, an 80-bed psychiatry services facility, and a parent-infant unit, and CIO Bruce Winzar said tech has enabled world-class medical access in regional areas, which had been largely unachievable until now.
“The key change has been a move from episodic care to a more holistic patient-centric approach using a digital patient record rather than paper,” Mr Winzar said.
“Rather than patient interactions being based on the current issues being addressed, the treating team’s access to patient information is at the clinicians’ finger tips, thus allowing the patient to also be better informed about their treatment and care. Patients will know what medications they’re on and when they are due to take them, so that the patient actively begins to manage their recovery while they are in hospital as well as out of it.
“The patient can also use the system to communicate with nursing staff, order food and access entertainment, making the experience more comfortable and informed for the patient.
According to Mr Winzar the cloud technology means a vastly different doctor-patient relationship.
“Imagine having your doctor being able to receive your x-ray in their office, review your records and then take their device and walk to their bedside to talk you through diagnosis and treatments,” he said. “There is also a certain level of anxiety that many patients experience in a treatment situation at hospital and by having their results, medication history, care details and treatment timelines at their bedside, patients feel more in control and comfortable with the patient experience.”
The executive said in the past, regional hospitals weren’t able to service all conditions, and many patients needed to be flown to Melbourne for treatment instead.
“With the power of technology hospitals like ours can service regional community needs in the same depth that city hospitals can,” he said. “Regional areas often have a strong focus on community and connectedness, so we are in the unique position at Bendigo where we can look to replicate that connected feeling in the way we treat our patients through technology — so the experience feels personal, and that doctor-patient relationship is built.”
Mr Winzar said the hospital is 18 months into a five to seven year strategy using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to deliver business analytics and population health insights.
“The future is extremely bright for Bendigo health and our region being able to predict and proactive manage our communities health. We are also anticipating significant dollar savings on hardware and licenses as a result of having a centralised digitised information store,” he said.
“Additionally, the emergence of health applications, wearables, internet of things is something that Bendigo can see having a great impact for patients in the future. It would mean that patients might return home, but use wearables or sensors to track, for example, heart rate or blood pressure with that information automatically uploaded and made available to clinical teams.”
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