The Tasmanian government has recently released a four-year strategy to reform outpatient services in its state health system.
Tasmania Transforming Inpatient Services Strategy it seeks to shorten waiting times, improve communication, and modernize processes.
Another focus of the strategy is ICT and virtual care capabilities where the Digital Outpatient Management System and eReferral system will be brought to “modern and simplified service delivery processes.”
“They will help solve business process inefficiencies, improve communication channels between consumers, referral staff, doctors and clinical staff, and enable the implementation of new types of outpatient care,” said the Tasmanian Department of Health.
These projects will also facilitate communication with outpatient services; the option to update personal information electronically; the option to schedule appointments accordingly; and access to care through virtual care and telehealth. IT will also lead to increased administrative efficiency and less double-dealing.
“Information technology will play an important role in supporting the transformation of outpatient services. Our digital capability will be greatly enhanced with the introduction of the Digital Outpatient Management Service and eReferrals,” noted the Department of Health.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Each year, the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) delivers around 600,000 sessions of health services across 46 different areas. This includes professional evaluation, assessment, and treatment; ongoing management of chronic and complex conditions; and pre- and post-hospital care. About 10% of these services are new appointments for people on the outpatient waiting list and the rest are for services without a waiting list, such as cancer services, and reviews and management of people who need ongoing or follow-up care. .
By 2024, the state government expects the number of Tasmanians aged over 70 to grow as the 85 and over cohort is expected to increase by 85%, from around 12,600 in 2020 to around 23,000 over the next two decades. This demographic shift is likely to impact future health service demand, particularly the demand for people with long-term conditions.
The four-year strategy allows THS to respond to this projected increase in demand by delivering strategies that will build the capacity needed for the future.
The release of the inpatient reform strategy follows the launch of the Tasmanian government The Digital Health Transformation 2022-2023 program was launched earlier this year with support from communications firm KPMG. The state government has also made an investment of A$150 million ($100 million) over four years to develop digital health infrastructure.
Meanwhile, since 2019, the Tasmanian Department of Health and Primary Health Tasmania have been working to establish and roll out the eReferral system across the country. The program uses HealthLink SmartForms for primary care users with a Hospital Referral Program. It is currently accepted by all physicians who use Best Practice and Clinical Medicine Director, more than 125 independent experts, and a growing number of allied health organizations. Wider roll-out in Tasmania’s North region is expected to begin next week, on 22 November, while the roll-out of outpatient services in the North West region will begin early next year and in the South region in mid-2023.