Virtual Care Strategy Heralds IT Revamp for NSW Health

The launch of a five-year virtual care strategy by NSW Health is likely to lead to wide-ranging changes to the organisation’s IT.

An NSW Health spokesperson said the strategy is likely to need new processes and technology to underpin an expanded suite of virtual care offerings.

Health authorities around the country have been paying more attention to virtual care needs since the emergence of Covid-19.

NSW Health said the pandemic has led to a significant increase in technologies such as remote monitoring and virtual clinical consultations, and that it now

"wants to build on this strong momentum”.

As well to remote monitoring and virtual consultations, NSW Health wants the virtual care strategy to cover care planning and coordination across different providers; clinical collaboration, innovation and research; patient self-management; and a digitally-capable workforce.

While it hasn’t yet determined the likely impacts on its existing IT systems, NSW Health is aware that expanding virtual care will have knock-on impacts.

To manage those impacts, a virtual care task force has been established.

The task force will

“coordinate the delivery of the activities required to implement this strategy, including investing in people, designing new processes, and building technology that will underpin virtual care.”

Existing IT systems, software and processes will be evaluated, NSW Health said, and

“new technologies will be introduced through joined-up procurement and implementation approaches”.

The virtual care strategy would build on other local innovations, including geriatric outreach, telestroke, and eICU, a program first funded in 2021 to provide enhanced support for regional ICU beds.

The strategy was first announced by NSW Health at the beginning of February.