Delivering pathology services across Australia’s most populous state is not a straightforward task. By embracing point-of-care testing systems and informatics, New South Wales Health Pathology (NSWHP) has been able to honour their commitments to deliver comparable pathology service levels in busy cities and outback towns.
Servicing a state-wide population of 7.5 million people, across a network that spans from Sydney’s urban sprawl to towns 1,100 kms beyond Dubbo, technology has been central in overcoming the tyranny of distance to ensure consistent delivery from healthcare teams.
“Our focus is on making sure that no matter where you live in New South Wales, you have access to the types of healthcare services that you're going to need” says Gayle Warnock, Point of Care Testing Manager at NSWHP. “This is particularly vital in the emergency setting, in the rural and regional sites, to make sure those people can have immediacy of care”.
NSWHP use Abbott’s i-STAT System widely across their network, leveraging its lightweight portability and ease-of-use to deliver laboratory-quality diagnostic results in minutes.
The i-STAT System offers the largest menu of tests on any single, portable, point-of-care platform, providing healthcare professionals with diagnostic information where and when it’s needed.
Devices are applied in a range of NSW settings and are commonly used by nursing teams. With tens of thousands of clinical personnel across the state using the device every day, ensuring reliable operator performance is imperative.
“We expect all of our i-STAT Systems to perform under the laboratory standard, as they're all NATA accredited. That poses challenges around ensuring devices and test kits are appropriately maintained and quality controlled, and that operators are using the devices correctly” explains Warnock.
Abbott’s informatics platforms have assisted NSWHP to ensure performance of operators meets the same standard in all settings, and to alert if and when additional user training is required.
“We use the information from our system to target operators and make their experience with the device better, and also to improve patient care by reducing the time to a result” says Warnock. “Every error is wasted time, so we strive to cut that down as much as we possibly can. And we do that effectively with our very targeted training”.
NSWHP apply the informatics system for remote monitoring and if operators reach a particular percentage error or a certain number of errors of the same type, then it triggers the organisation to conduct further training via a phone, face-to-face training, or remotely using video conferencing.
NSWHP’s familiarity with remote training meant that the network could roll out a new suite of devices during April and May despite the disruptions created by COVID-19.
“We rolled out our first collection of i-STAT Alinity System devices during COVID, and a lot of the training was done remotely. The devices were delivered, and then we logged into virtual training meetings with Abbott representatives”.
The i-STAT Alinity system aligned well with virtual remote training.
“To be able to hold up your i-STAT System to a screen and ask a question, that worked brilliantly for us, and particularly in that very stressful time, those remote platforms worked really well”.
Warnock sees the informatics protocol as a central part of service delivery across a wide network.
“We absolutely rely on our informatics to run our network, because we've just got so many devices now, it's just not practical to run it any other way for us. We really need those services”.
With the industry’s most comprehensive menu of tests in a single platform, the i-STAT System is at the forefront of expanding the technology driving bedside point-of-care testing. These critical tests provide diagnostic, treatment, and prognostic indicators related to disease state and clinical practice guidelines to support a patient-centric approach to healthcare, allowing the hospital to potentially improve both system efficiency and patient care.
* Quoted comments are based upon this hospital’s experience with i-STAT and i-STAT Alinity Systems and may differ from those achieved by other institutions.
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