The pressures associated with rural and regional healthcare communities in Australia is widely acknowledged. As technology partners in healthcare, we’re always receiving enquiries on how to use technology to do more with less, how to improve patient outcomes and how to deliver more personalised experiences faster – particularly for resource limited communities. From tackling the sheer geographic span to workforce shortages and existing infrastructure limitations, the barriers for regional and rural healthcare communities are far reaching. And there’s added confusion about where to prioritise limited pots of funding when it comes to choosing and implementing the right technology stack to benefit your rural and regional community.

Getting your tech stack right, can save lives.

Connectivity is everything where responsiveness is concerned. From enabling first line responders with reliable and scalable 24/7/365 capability through to the automation of monitoring devices to track and escalate cases, embedding the right network architecture can make all the difference. Embedding fast connectivity, real time analytics and resilient backups is proven to radically improve responsiveness, reduce resourcing pressures, reduce alarm fatigue and improve patient outcomes.

Top 5 issues for rural and regional healthcare communities

Our customers in regional and rural healthcare come to us for support, because they are usually struggling to improve healthcare resilience in one of these five areas:

Number 1

Geography – vast distances remote locations and challenging terrain.

Number 2

Infrastructure – limited clinics, hospitals and specialist consultancies.

Number 3

Workforce shortages – limited capacity and capability coupled with overload.

Number 4

Funding – reduced budgets made available for locations with dispersed populations

Making sense of technology

Understanding the technology stack becomes ever more confusing as communities share ideas with their peers, often resulting in numerous business cases with escalating costs and little cohesion as different stakeholders and communities pull in different directions.

We often hear:

  • Do we need a Cloud solution?
  • Do we stay on premise in case of natural disasters?
  • Is there a hybrid model that could work for us?
  • Can we automate tasks easily?
  • Are we conforming with the safety standards?
  • Can we integrate with the EMR?
  • How do I consolidate platforms and applications?
  • Could we use AI in our call centres?
  • How can I secure my data assets?
  • How can I prevent cyber-attack and data breaches?

One size never fits all

Our best advice is that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to any kind of healthcare organisation. Which is even more so the case in rural and regional communities. Your needs, communities, funding and technological needs are all different. Having a technology partner who works with your peers ensures all angles are considered, and investments are prioritised in a way that works for your organisation and community.

Start the thought process – here are our four points to get you started.

Number 1

Gain a 360 view of your patients, community and their issues

Take time to interpret the data you’ve gathered over the last 3 – 5 years, consolidate the insights, share your findings and validate your assumptions. Delivering better patient outcomes or services, can be the difference between the time to find the answers, and your ability to respond.

What data are you collecting today that if integrated could help drive better outcomes.

  • What are your patient needs? How often do they visit?
  • Are there any identifiable trends?
  • What are their opportunities and frustrations?
  • How could you resolve them?
  • Can you predict an outcome based on health trends or performance.
Number 2

Understand your strategic priorities and approaches.

If you have a strategy, it’s time to review it in line with your findings in part 1.

  • Are you tackling the right issues?
  • Have you considered any change in economic or environmental factors?
  • Have you reviewed options for collaboration or funding?
  • Are there other rural and remote communities you could interface with?
Number 3

Evaluate your technology landscape.

Now it’s time to tackle the tech. Using the information from your first two points, you’ll know where your weaknesses and opportunities are and have an idea of how you can address the issues and achieve your goals.

  • How can you introduce technology focused models of care?
  • How can technology address your patient and workforce challenges?
  • Is there a way you can bring together the technology needs of the organisation and gain efficiencies from tackling them together?
  • Where are the cost and time efficiencies available through technology?
  • What level of support do you need to move your initiatives forward?
Number 4

Engage your community and partners.

We believe that cross collaboration is the key to gaining momentum when it comes to embedding transformational initiatives in rural and regional healthcare. Creating solutions which are designed with a workforce, community and patient centric focus will ultimately deliver better patient outcomes, create less impact on overburdened workforces and drive greater efficiencies across your organisation.

Having boots on the ground also helps – and we’re always working with our rural and regional healthcare customers in their communities to plan out and navigate all of the issues we’ve raised in this blog.

If you need help defining your next steps, we’re specialists in healthcare I.T. technology — reach out for support.