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Flinders Uni Leads Digital Health Project

Flinders University is spearheading a significant digital health initiative worth AU$ 1 million, which aims to address the requirements of individuals residing in low socioeconomic areas with chronic diseases, creating a strong blueprint for other urban and rural regions.

Through the “safe@home” project, primary care services will be provided regularly through fully monitored virtual care and telemonitoring. The aim is to minimise the number of emergency department and hospital admissions, reduce wait times at GP clinics, and prevent ambulance ramping.

The Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, the Adelaide Primary Health Network, the Australian Telehealth Society, Digital Health SA, and the Integrated Cardiovascular Clinical Network SA are among the agencies that will be involved in the project with SA Health.

Dr John Maddison stated that integrating technology and connecting general practice with hospital care is the most effective approach to ensure the safety of patients at home. This not only benefits patients but also reduces the burden on emergency departments.

Professor Robyn Clark, who holds the position of Professor of Acute Care in Cardiovascular Research at the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University, emphasised the importance of establishing a robust primary care structure for people with high medical needs, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The goal of the “safe@home” project is to enhance the quality of life for such patients by offering regular health check-ups and professional assistance in the comfort of their homes.

Additionally, Professor Clark stressed that it is not just the monitoring of patients but also the clinical decisions and interventions made based on the collected information that can significantly improve patient’s well-being and health outcomes. Given the constant strain on the healthcare system, this project aims to provide effective and accessible care to those who need it the most.

The initiative will involve engaging and educating healthcare professionals from various disciplines, including doctors, nurses, and allied health workers, in both hospital and primary care settings. The objective is to develop a new digital health workforce capable of providing comprehensive care to patients.

By incorporating home telemonitoring and virtual care, patients will be actively engaged in their own care model and will be motivated to participate in self-care and self-monitoring, which can assist in managing their medical conditions, according to Professor Clark.

Moreover, the project will facilitate the creation of a business model that can be replicated in other regions, using regular Medicare item numbers for primary care. The objective is to establish a framework for scaling up routine care while refining interfaces with electronic medical records and patient clinics. This will enable healthcare providers to offer more effective, efficient, and accessible care to patients.

In addition to leading the “safe@home” project, Professor Clark is also heading the CHAP (Country Heart Attack Prevention) team, which is concluding a previous National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project that received AU$3.2 million in funding. The CHAP team established a four-step model of care and clinical pathway to implement cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention guidelines for rural and remote patients.

The “safe@home” project led by Flinders University is a promising initiative that aims to deliver integrated primary care services to people living with chronic diseases in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods. By using home telemonitoring and virtual care, the project will provide patients with regular health checks and access to professional help, thus improving their everyday quality of life.

Additionally, the project’s objective is to create a new digital health workforce that can provide comprehensive care to patients while refining interfaces with electronic medical records and patients’ clinics. Overall, this project has the potential to set a robust primary care framework for managing chronic diseases and reducing hospital admissions, waiting times, and ambulance ramping, which could be a model for other regions and cities.

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