How technology is shaping the digital future of WSLHD

Chief executive of Western Sydney Local Health District, Danny O’Connor.

Technology is changing the face of healthcare in Australia.

As cybercrime, data protection and privacy become priorities everywhere from households to hospitals, we have made great progress in securing the digital future of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

Over the last 12 months, our Information Technology Services (ITS) team has made excellent progress connecting us to a digital future and protecting us in the process.

With the multi-million-dollar redevelopment of Blacktown Hospital and Westmead Hospital now well advanced and the redevelopment of the Westmead Precinct underway, ITS has spent the last year making significant improvements to our digital health capability to ensure we are properly equipped to deliver a new frontier of healthcare in the decade beyond 2020.

But unlike big-scale construction and sky-high cranes, the pivotal technological upgrades of the past 12 months are a little harder to notice with the naked eye.

You might not be able to see it, but there have been big changes to WSLHD’s ICT infrastructure – the invisible hardware and network structures that support everything we do – to improve network performance, security and stability.

In information communication technology (ICT), Western Sydney has had some very big state firsts.

The local health district has a dedicated dual fibre connection to ensure our hospitals have a backup connection during network outages.

WSLHD is the first health service in the southern hemisphere to adopt Activity Based Working (ABW), with ABW areas set up at Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals.

The local health district is also the first to offer Guest Wifi across the district.

But it is not always about being first.

With many legacy applications still in use in WSLHD, a big effort has been directed towards migrating onto current supported platforms.

Then there is cyber security.

As we know, the online world has always been vulnerable but things have moved on from the miraculous out-of-the-blue correspondence of a long-lost uncle wanting to share his $50-million windfall with you.

Cybercrime is one of the most sophisticated methods of attack in use today, which is why our ITS team spends so much time behind the scenes ensuring a safe online environment for our clinicians to work in, and our patients and families.

New clinical systems have been implemented to ensure we can focus more time on our patients, including the electronic medications management system (eMEDs), which was successfully rolled out at four out of five WSLHD facilities in the last 12 months and the first release of the upgraded electronic medical record (eMR) is in full swing.

Over the next 12 months, ITS will be even busier as the Westmead redevelopment and progresses and stage two of the Blacktown Hospital expansion reaches completion. Our digital solutions are entirely consistent with the international agenda, which will see increased democratisation and personalisation of healthcare.

I’d like to thank the ITS team and the clinical and business teams who have collaborated to make 2017-18 a very successful year in achieving these milestones toward our digital health vision for WSLHD.