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Tech teams harness data to win innovation awards September 2015, Volume 25, Issue 4

Anne Messenger

Published 30 September 2015. doi:
Messenger A. Tech teams harness data to win innovation awards. Public Health Res Pract. 2015;25(4):e2541550

  • Citation

A concept for a health emergency decision-making app, which draws on national and state health datasets to support both patients and administrators, has won a top award at this year’s national GovHack event.

A team of young innovators from Adelaide consultancy Chamonix received the award for Best Digital Transformation Hack at the red carpet event on 5 September sponsored by the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), which was established by former Communications Minister (now Prime Minister), Malcolm Turnbull.

GovHack, teams have only 46 hours to pull data from government and any other sources, ‘mash’ the data and present it as a compelling application.

The winning concept, Health Buddy, provides decision-making support during a healthcare event to help patients choose where to go for non-life threatening injury or illness. The team used a huge array of open data, including South Australian and national health data, mapping data, local medical facility types and transport options, to help users make decisions.

Transforming government services

Speaking at the GovHack event via video, Mr Turnbull said open data would play a central role in the transformation of government services and the Government was committed to opening more datasets for public use.

“The most important part of GovHack is that it’s not just about a couple of days of fun − and a lot of coffee − it’s about the value and power of making government data public, and how real lasting commercial products of social value can be pulled together in prototype form in a short amount of time.

“We believe data collected by or for the public sector is a public good and we know making it open makes even greater benefits for the public.”

Increased commitment

Mr Turnbull said he had great hopes for how the DTO would leverage the prototypes and mash-ups from this year’s contributions. Last week, he increased the government’s commitment, announcing a new ministry of Digital Government to be overseen by himself and the new Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield.

A spokesman for the winning Chamonix team, Ashleigh Green, said the Health Buddy app aimed to relieve the patient load on busy emergency departments (EDs), and included a dashboard for health administrators and policy makers to access the app’s de-identified data to help improve services.

“There has been a big push from governments around reducing ED waiting times,” Mr Green said. “So we looked at what data was available to support an app to better enable the public to make decisions about when to use the ED.“

Dashboard for decision makers

The app concept included data on ED waiting times; hospitals, GPs and pharmacies closest to the user; and how to get there. It even included ‘Twitter sentiment’ about local facilities, to advise users about best options.

“We also created a dashboard for hospital administrators and policy makers,” Mr Green said. “This provides data about user choices, and tracks it to show incoming private emergencies and where they are going – so it’s a live application for hospitals, as well as having three-month and full data.”

The team was mentored by a GovHack ‘custodian’, a health expert who advised them about data sources, and also included someone who had worked on integrating the Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record with hospital administrations.

The next step was to “start conversations with health policy makers about developing the concept to see if we can move it along”.

Chamonix is the key developer of a platform for the National E-Health Transition Authority which enables practitioners to access e-health records.

Innovative solutions

Meanwhile, in NSW a team involved in the development and implementation of the Population Health Intervention Management System (PHIMS) has won a 2015 NSW iAward. The awards recognise the best and most innovative information and communications technology solutions and are judged in each state and territory.

PHIMS took out the health category at the awards ceremony, held by the Australian Information Industry Association and hosted by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane.

PHIMS – a collaborative effort between the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, Centre for Population Health, Office of Preventive Health, local health districts (LHDs), HealthShare Corporate, and partner Ajilon – is a health intervention management and reporting system that enables NSW Health to support and monitor the effectiveness of population health intervention activities.

It was developed to support the implementation of the Healthy Children Initiative (HCI) and monitoring of associated key performance indicators and is currently used by more than 120 health promotion officers across all 15 NSW LHDs, supporting 3850 early childhood centres and 2650 primary schools. It enables faster, more accurate and comprehensive capture of information via a secure online portal, giving the Population Health Network the ability to assess the quality and impact of their work and drive improvement across the state.

PHIMS is now supporting the HCI’s Crunch and Sip, Munch and Move and Live Life Well @ School programs, but is scalable and capable of managing other health-related initiatives.