NSW Pathology’s point of care testing pilot enables faster diagnosis and care

The technology is being piloted at six NSW Health public hospitals in a range of clinical settings including hospital EDs, wards, clinics and pathology collection centres.
By Dean Koh
09:38 PM

Credit: NSW Health Pathology

NSW Health Pathology, eHealth NSW and Microsoft are partnering to trial a first-of-its-kind point of care testing, which allows patients to be tested, whether it is in the back of an ambulance, on a football field or while undergoing surgery, with their results available to clinicians in real time.

This is done using point of care devices, in which encrypted pathology test results and clinical observations are being uploaded to the internet reliably, securely and accurately through the 4G mobile network using services that are audited by the Australian Signals Directorate. 

The technology is being piloted at six NSW Health public hospitals (Bulahdelah, John Hunter Children’s, Orange, Trangie, Wagga Wagga and Westmead) in a range of clinical settings, including hospital emergency departments, wards, clinics and pathology collection centres.

According to NSW Health Pathology, the project team was formed in April this year and the first pilot site was established in September. A process of evaluation will begin in December, and the results of that evaluation will help shape the future direction of the project.

WHY IT MATTERS

For some hospitals in the rural areas, the ability to connect modern medical devices to electronic clinical systems can be limited by access to the internet. Using cloud technologies, test results and electronic clinical observations can be uploaded automatically and transmitted to treating clinicians regardless of the local information technology infrastructure available.

The pilot is also testing new ways to use the results to improve patient care. In Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals, the point of care pathology results are being combined with other vital signs results to help identify when patients are at risk of sepsis in the Emergency Department – a potentially life-threatening condition.

ON THE RECORD

“Point of care testing is vital to providing immediate, accurate results for certain pathology tests which can save lives in locations that don’t have 24/7 labs, so by enabling more services to offer this testing we’re helping clinicians diagnose and treat more patients more quickly,” said James Patterson, NSW Health Pathology’s chief information officer, in a statement.

“Being able to run algorithms on patient information as it’s transmitted to their electronic medical record and apply analytics to help doctors detect when a patient is at risk of this condition is highly promising,” he added.