Digital-Health-- Safety and quality of digital health systemsAbout safety and quality of digital health systems

E-health is recognised as an essential component of patient safety and can improve the timeliness, safety and quality of clinical decisions. In general practice, 97% of Australian doctors use electronic records. The approximately 1,340 hospitals in Australia are increasingly dependent on IT for routine clinical processes. In 2014, care delivery for 80% of patients in NSW hospitals was supported by electronic health records (EHRs). IT systems for pathology testing, medication management, radiology and record keeping play a mission-critical role in our hospitals.

IT will soon support most clinical processes in every hospital across Australia. However, when poorly designed, implemented or used, e-health can lead to patient harm.

To reduce the risk of patient harm from IT, the CRE is funding the development, evaluation and support of an automated IT critical incident database to extract and collate reports from national and international incident report databases. CRE investigators will disseminate critical IT alerts in response to significant new risks identified in the reports.

Additionally, the CRE is conducting research into automated surveillance methods to detect clinically significant problems associated with the safety and quality of IT, suitable for use in large health service organisations such as hospitals and general practice networks. Working with clinicians and clinical informatics professionals, we are also trialling dashboards for IT surveillance systems to provide early warning of events such as downtimes.

Key outcomes for digital health safety and quality

  1. A national automated IT critical incident database and alert system, reporting on characteristics of IT incidents in hospitals, general practice and some specialties, their causes by type, extent of disruption and harm.
  2. A validated surveillance method for early detection of IT associated events in health services.
  3. Evidence-based recommendations to improve preparedness and responses to IT incidents.

Partners and collaborators

Austin Hospital, Melbourne
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM)
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC)
Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA)
Macquarie University – Centre for Health Informatics
Macquarie University Hospital
NSW Department of Health
Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
South Australian Department of Health
St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney