Healthcare digitally transforming through COVID-19

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How local NSW districts digitally transformed through COVID-19

Gabriel Dubic - NSW Government Sales Executive
Reading Time: 3 minutes

How local NSW districts digitally transformed through COVID-19 

The healthcare sector’s immediate response to COVID-19 has prioritised managing and mitigating the direct impact of the disease – from implementing new transmission-aware behaviour and increasing available space in hospitals, to creating new test and trace processes. 

But that focus has also significantly affected the industry in a number of indirect ways as well – most notably demanding a sector-wide change in the day-to-day work of healthcare providers. Consultations and treatments in particular require new, remote processes, precipitating the increased use of online and telehealth models.

Across Australia, 29.6 million telehealth services have been delivered to Medicare-eligible patients between 13 March and 9 September 2020. In NSW, new tools and services were quickly implemented – from triage tools to SMS text bot services. As a result, health services across NSW have seen a rapid and unprecedented move towards digital transformation.   

Partnership is a key means to move toward a smarter sector that is empowered with digital tools. The NSW Government eHealth department is working in partnership with local health districts to develop the state’s eHealth strategy, policy, and standards. And local health districts are supporting core systems by ensuring compliance with state-wide standards by selecting, procuring, and supporting local functions and systems.

However, adoption does not come without contingent challenges. For local health districts in NSW, the move towards digital transformation may result in added pressure to already strained services. 

First and foremost, patient information must be transferred simply and securely between districts and services, requiring the use of a more efficient digital platform. 

Local health districts are required to comply with a range of key privacy and security regulations. They include the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, created to promote responsible handling of health records and the privacy of individuals through mandated staff privacy laws, the NSW Health Privacy Manual for Health Information, and a strict Code of Conduct to maintain confidentiality of patient information.

While there is a COVID-19 accelerated push to digitise patient data, engagement, and treatment, maintaining citizen trust during the process is absolutely critical. Trust is hard won and easily lost – and has a clear impact on use of digital health services.  

Luckily there are clear best practice processes local health authorities can follow not only to comply with regulations, but to maintain citizen trust. 

First, all local health data must be securely stored within Australia’s borders. And second, when transferring patient information or disclosing for legal purposes, data must be protected through encryption services.

Those requirements mean local health districts should demand government-level security standards and guaranteed sovereignty from their cloud vendors to ensure their community health information remains secure, compliant, and protected.

As an Australian-born, on-shore cloud services provider, Vault can protect Australian healthcare providers of all sizes from digital vulnerabilities while empowering new, cloud-based ways of working. We have an extensive ecosystem of partners that we work with to provide the application or platform that meets the unique needs of your healthcare practice.

If you want to understand our capabilities or how we can help empower local health districts to securely digitise their services, especially during challenging times, feel free to contact us any time.

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