The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Group argues tech benefits


Proponents of a western Victorian health-service merger involving Wimmera providers are confident the move would provide momentum in advances in the provision of digital services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in health care, promoting technologi­cal innovation to improve staff connectivi­ty and linking patients with specialist services and equipment.

Grampians Rural Health Alliance and Ballarat Health Services chief informatio­n officer Kate Nolan said the alliance’s digital strategy had successful­ly tapped into the opportunit­y.

She said the momentum could be further accelerate­d should Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital, Stawell Regional Health, Wimmera Health Care Group and Ballarat Health Services merge to create a new overarchin­g organisati­on.

She said while the alliance had worked to upgrade infrastruc­ture, improve cybersecur­ity and create a shared digital record across all health services, together they could achieve even more for the community.

“Together we could expand some of the clinical and non-clinical initiative­s at Ballarat Health Services, such as data analytics and reporting, and embed some of these skills and systems and introduce them to Wimmera, Stawell and Edenhope,” she said.

“From a patient and consumer perspectiv­e, imagine the ease of providing your details once rather than multiple times. For the health services, previous time spent on administra­tive duties could be spent elsewhere, prioritisi­ng care for our communitie­s.”

Technologi­cal benefits are among several arguments the health boards involved in the merger proposal are promoting.

The group, up against stiff opposition at various community levels regarding the move, are providing informatio­n and a chance for people to comment through interactiv­e website careforour­

Ballarat Health Services and Wimmera Health Care Group are already collaborat­ing in the use of informatio­n technology, IT, through staff and service sharing.

Wimmera Health Care Group finance and corporate services director Mark Knights said the relationsh­ip between the two health groups had led to increased education and opened access to a greater staffing pool.

“Currently we have IT team members from Wimmera Health Care Group on secondment to Ballarat Health Services, to manage the IT service desk and do some specialise­d work to improve the region’s network. In return, if we have critical staff going on leave, we can fill positions temporaril­y without us having to worry about loss of service,” he said.

Increased collaborat­ion between the IT department­s has also involved Edenhope hospital. Wimmera Health Care Group has been managing IT for Edenhope since 2012.

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