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Federal partnership grant to secure future of virtual care

Health Infrastructure (HI) welcomed a $1.27 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project Scheme to boost research in world-leading change management practices to deliver better healthcare for patients and the community. 

Health Infrastructure Chief Executive, Rebecca Wark said in partnership with the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University and partner health services, the Smarter Hospitals project will drive research to optimise virtual care technology and enhance health systems and healthcare delivery. 

“NSW Health is embracing virtual care, giving patients the opportunity to receive cutting edge care in their own homes, outside of a busy hospital Emergency Department or brick and mortar waiting room,” Ms Wark said.  

“We’re excited to partner with Macquarie University and tap into the minds of globally recognised change management experts to inform the future of innovative digital health and infrastructure solutions for the community. 

 “Every health facility we build requires some level of change management to help hospital staff adapt to new facilities or new models of care.  

“Collaborating with Macquarie University on this research will help guide innovative solutions across the asset lifecycle of our health facilities using best practice – from initial clinical needs planning, health facility planning, design and construction, through to asset repurposing.” 

Ms Wark said the specialised change management method will be piloted at health facilities across NSW to provide an evidence-based approach to managing change in future virtual care opportunities.  

“Specialised, tested methods to support the management of change will ensure that our future health facilities are equipped to integrate the use of innovative technology with in-person care to provide high-quality care for communities, particularly those in rural and regional NSW,” Ms Wark said. ”  

Macquarie University research lead Associate Professor Reema Harrison, Australian Institute of Health Innovation said, “By fully integrating virtual care services such as telehealth and remote monitoring of patients with face-to-face services, health systems will be positioned to offer better care for patients, realise efficiencies and provide optimal healthcare experiences.  

“Adopting an evidence-based approach that integrates best practice change management, quality improvement and implementation strategies, to develop a methodology that targets the specific challenges of integrating virtual care into everyday practice in a way that can be replicated across new projects.”  

The Smarter Hospitals project is being funded as part of the NHMRC’s Partnership Project scheme. The scheme provides funding for researchers and partner organisations to work together to define research questions, undertake the research, and interpret and translate the findings into health policy and practice.   

The Smarter Hospitals project includes: 

  • reviewing global best practice change management with opportunities to integrate implementation science and quality improvement methodologies 
  • ​developing and piloting a specialised change management method for virtual care integration into capital and asset programs 
  • integrating new methodologies through learning and people support programs to enhance capability across future HI projects. 
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