This month we virtually interviewed DHIN member Dr Mel Keep, Senior Lecturer and Academic Lead Education. Mel is also the academic heart and soul of eHealth@Sydney and this month Mel has set the challenge to reach out to someone new on the DHIN member list.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
Hello, I’m Mel, and I love reading (currently reading From Scratch by Tembi Locke), patting dogs, and playing escape rooms (outside pandemics). During daylight hours, I conduct research into the impact of social media on well-being, and explore the ways we can use digital technology to increase affordable access to care, and to improve women’s health. I take great delight in teaching eHealth to undergraduate students, and grappling with ways in which we can improve learning experiences for all students.
How do you define digital health?
Digital health is the use of digital technologies to improve well-being. It is a uniquely interdisciplinary area of study and practice that brings together health and medical sciences, design, ICT, implementation science, and social sciences among others. Examples span telepractice and the use of virtual and augmented reality in care, to mobile health, to decision supports, electronic medical records, and machine learning.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed?
Hopefully COVID-19! The current pandemic has forced individuals and organisations to engage with digital health at scale. These first hand experiences, the co-evolution of practice and technology within the last (and next) few months, and the infrastructure that is currently available provide us with an opportunity to reflect on how digital technologies can be a normal part of our toolkit for delivering better health care. The next adventure is working out the good bits of what we’re doing and how we retain them.
I’d also recommend Trish Greenhalgh’s non-adoption, abandonment, scale-up, spread, and sustainability (NASSS) framework for thinking about implementation and sustainability of digital health.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing digital health at the moment?
In the current context, one of the key challenges for digital health is ensuring sustained changes in policy and infrastructure that will enable telepractice to continue to be used beyond the immediate response to physical distancing and isolation. These include, remuneration guidelines, and equipment and human resources for supporting digital health initiatives within organisations.
More broadly, digital health faces challenges around equity. On the weekend, we were stopped on our walk by an older lady gesturing to her lawn mower, miming the action of pulling the starter cord. Her husband was standing on the porch, leaning on his cane. What would a digital tool that increases their access to care, or their well-being look like? How can we include their voice in co-design when we’re still working on identifying a shared language? We have a responsibility to design, investigate, and implement digital health solutions that reduce health inequities rather than exacerbate them.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
Given the rapid move to online delivery, here are some telepractice resources I’d recommend:
- Telepractice for early childhood intervention practitioners
- Video-conferencing based telemental health
- Australian Physiotherapy Association telehealth resources
- NSW telestroke model of care
- British Psychological Society guidance for psychologists working online with young people
Over and above that, our best resources are each other and our networks. I invite you to find someone on the DHIN members list (including me!) and write to them. You never know what great things could come out of a 15-minute zoom chat.
Connect with Mel
A very big thank you to Mel for being our April 2020 member profile!