Project iRAD: expanding the cloud-connected community health network

Tuesday, 15 December, 2020

Project iRAD: expanding the cloud-connected community health network

One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare delivery is the sharing of clinical datasets from multiple services and disparate systems. It is broadly accepted that easy and timely access to patient information across different sites — for example, the patient records of a general practice and a hospital situated in the same community — enables clinicians to be better informed, leading to improved patient health outcomes.

Interoperability in the Australian healthcare system continues to stagnate. Efforts are in place to remedy this but accessibility, timeliness of information and lack of quality data remain significant challenges. Ensuring a continuum of care is a major priority in Australia and around the globe.

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network’s (SWSPHN) innovative Integrated Real-time Active Data (iRAD) interoperability project has enabled healthcare organisations to share patient-consented health records across the continuum of care.

SWSPHN is one of 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) across Australia. Funded by the federal government, these non-profit organisations were established to improve patient care and to, generally, make health care in Australia more efficient and effective. They support local doctors, health workers and patients in the communities they serve. Primary health care is generally the first line of service in the Australian healthcare system — typically, general practitioners. One of the major objectives of PHNs is to improve the links between local health services and hospitals.

SWSPHN serves a population of 1.1 million people spread across seven government areas. Its footprint comprises six public hospitals, seven private hospitals, 75 aged-care facilities and more than 400 general practices.

About Project iRAD

In 2017, SWSPHN partnered with Allscripts to develop Project iRAD, which is pioneering open, connected health communities in Australia. The project is committed to achieving better patient outcomes by enabling a diverse range of health service providers to deliver their services as part of a connected community in Australia.

The project is validated by the willingness of patients to participate, with consent recorded on patient and healthcare setting levels.

Allscripts’ role in iRAD is in the delivery of its interoperability platform, dbMotion, available to the Australian market through the cloud via Microsoft Azure. iRAD is the first implementation of dbMotion in the Asia–Pacific region and the first implementation globally on the Microsoft Azure platform.

The dbMotion platform solves the problem of scattered patient health information across many systems and sites. It aggregates and harmonises patient-consented data from Australian primary care clinical information systems, delivering the information clinicians need in a usable and actionable format at the point of care.

iRAD was established to enhance the sharing of patient information, typically when the patient is accessing services in more than one setting — incorporating general practices, outpatient services, antenatal shared care sites, after-hours clinics, residential aged care and palliative care services. iRAD shares a host of patient and clinical information datasets, including:

  • demographics
  • diagnoses
  • medications
  • allergies
  • pathology
  • radiology
  • immunisations
  • vital signs
  • encounters
  • surgical procedures
  • documents.

SWSPHN CEO Keith McDonald said, “Drawing on extensive consultation with GPs and specialists, we identified a need in the Australian practice setting for an application capable of accurately drawing agreed clinical datasets from a number of disparate systems to provide clinicians with prompt access to a patient’s current health information in one concise view on their desktop without having to leave that patient’s file. Project iRAD’s adaptation of dbMotion for the Australian market does exactly that.”

For clinicians, the benefits of iRAD include access to reliable health information through a simple and intuitive system that aids informed clinical decision-making. The administrative burden is also reduced by saving time and limiting duplication.

iRAD also means that patients no longer have to explain their health issues to multiple clinicians or undergo unnecessary duplicate tests. Patients can be assured that their privacy is respected and safeguarded through the secure hosting of patient information in the cloud through Microsoft Azure. Easier access to information also means that patients with low health literacy or language barriers can benefit.

What’s next for iRAD?

The pilot phase of the iRAD project, which successfully concluded in mid-2020, included a number of innovative general practices and an after-hours service.

Since the completion of the pilot phase, iRAD continues to expand with the intention of becoming Australia’s most comprehensive connected community health network. By the end of August 2020, an additional 30 sites within the south-western Sydney region contributed to the iRAD platform. Within the next six months, a further 40 sites will adopt the iRAD project, including sites from within the Western New South Wales Primary Health Network, demonstrating how easily the solution can scale.

The goal going forward to mid-2021 is to increase the number of participating acute care, aged care and other specialists as well as enabling other PHNs to join.

Image credit: © a nice day

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