Tuesday, 10 May 2016 marked the start of a new journey for the Northern Sydney health sector with the launch of HealthPathways, a joint-initiative between the Sydney North Health Network and the Northern Sydney Local Health District.
At its simplest, HealthPathways is a web-based clinical ‘filing cabinet’ that allows GPs to assess and manage patient conditions with greater efficiency and integration of care.
But, at its core, HealthPathways is much more sophisticated. As guests that attended the launch of HealthPathways soon discovered, its true strength lies in its ability to build relationships between hospitals, community, management and funders, leading to better health outcomes.
HealthPathways will integrate the primary healthcare and secondary healthcare systems, so that they work together and enable collective decision making by clinicians across these systems. This will enable more people, living in Sydney’s north, to get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
So why is HealthPathways needed in Sydney’s North? As Sydney North Health Network, CEO, Lynelle Hales explained in her launch address, “the increase in chronic disease, co-morbidities and an ageing population, means we cannot wait any longer, we need to work differently.”
A key tenant of Sydney North Health Network’s strategy is Service Transformation. HealthPathways is one of the ways in which service transformation will start to occur, by highlighting opportunities for improvement and system redesign.
- Reduces waiting times to see a specialist;
- Receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time;
- Supports patients to look after themselves; and
- Supports better health outcomes.
- Builds relationships between general practitioners, hospital specialists and allied health services;
- Enables comprehensive assessment and management of patients; and
- Facilitates navigation through local services
The Local Health System
- Facilitates integrated patient care;
- Less demand on acute and hospital based services as patients are better managed in the community;
- System redesign and localisation of services to reflect individual and community need; and
- Enhances current work force capacity through better use of primary care resources including practice nurses, allied health providers and non-government organisations.
Dr Graeme McGeoch is the Clinical Lead of HealthPathways Canterbury (New Zealand), the first HealthPathways built between 2008 and 2011. Since then 28 organisations have joined the HealthPathways Community mainly throughout Australia and New Zealand, building their own local version of HealthPathways to meet local conditions and health population needs.
The HealthPathways Community is a collaborative of all organisations implementing HealthPathways with all members having access to a common platform provided by Streamliners, a technical writing and publishing organisation. This common platform enables efficient sharing of pathways between members and cost efficiencies in technical writing, publishing and system administration.
How does HealthPathways work?
The system relies on the design and implementation of a clinical pathway, for over 550 conditions. Each pathway is designed and agreed to by a ‘subject matter expert’ together with a working group of Hospital Specialists, GPs and other appropriate health stakeholders. Once the pathway is designed, implementation follows with the pathway made ‘live’ on the website allowing all local clinicians the ability to easily access patient assessment, management and referral information.
Where to from here?
The Sydney North HealthPathways journey has just begun. Dr Fiona Robinson, Clinical Lead for Sydney North HealthPathways will be working with her team of GP Editors, local service providers and the Northern Sydney Local Health District in the development of local pathways.
“The number of people attending from both the Northern Sydney Primary Health Network and the Northern Sydney Local Health District, made it one of the best attended symposiums we have seen to date (well done!). Also great to see the partnership lead by the executive team is already getting people excited and thinking differently.”
Service Delivery Manager – Streamliners