Implementing Digital Health Solutions in Hospitals

By Manasha Fernando, AusHSI PhD Scholar

aushsi blog manasha fernando

‘Will my research make an impact?’

This was a question I asked myself before embarking on the PhD journey.

I’m now one year into my PhD and thankful to be addressing this question at AusHSI. AusHSI has a track record of combining health services research with hands-on experience to create real world solutions. From the get-go, I was partnered at AusHSI with a dedicated team of supervisors and support network of other higher degree research students. I was also able to connect with my industry partner, Metro South Health Service, to develop my research project on evaluating clinical decision support systems (CDSS) in hospitals.

CDSS are practical solutions created in response to the growing concerns surrounding patient safety. They are computerised systems that provide patient specific information or recommendations to support clinical decision making at the point of care. Examples include electronic alerts notifying a monitoring clinician that a patient is deteriorating, or a mobile screening tool that recommends appropriate clinical pathways. There is evidence to suggest that CDSS can improve patient safety by streamlining clinical management or diagnostic support, leading to better health outcomes whilst reducing resource waste.

Is that exciting? Yes, but the problem is that it takes around seventeen years for a clinical innovation to enter routine use. Fewer than half of all clinical innovations are successfully adopted. CDSS are not being fully implemented and used in routine care in hospital settings due to complex factors such as workflow or culture. But the non-adoption, or sub-optimal adoption, of CDSS could be considered a significant lost opportunity for health service improvement.

My research investigates how we can take advantage of implementation science approaches to adopt computerised CDSS within hospital settings. The aim of my project is to increase awareness among researchers, practitioners, and service providers around how CDSS are currently being implemented and what changes may be needed to improve the process. Overall, I hope that my research contributes to tangible health service improvement and reduces the current seventeen-year gap of translating research into practice.

I want to acknowledge that this important research would be impossible to progress on my own. My advice to any doctoral researcher is to keep your eyes open to the opportunities of collaboration outside of your daily research tasks. Never underestimate your impact when connecting with those around you. Together, you might just change the world.

This doctoral research is being funded by the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) and is being conducted in partnership with QUT, the Australian Centre for Health Services and Innovation, Metro South Health and DHCRC.