This month we are very pleased to profile Bethany Van Dort. Beth has worked in the digital health space for a number of years and has recently embarked on her PhD project on evaluating antimicrobial stewardship in digital hospitals.
Please tell us a little about yourself
I am currently working as a research assistant in A/Prof Melissa Baysari’s team in the area of digital health and human factors. I have been in this role for 2 and a half years, first at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University and now at the Sydney School of Health Sciences, University of Sydney. During my time as a research assistant I have had the opportunity to work on a range of different projects in medication safety, electronic medication management in hospitals, My Health Record’s use in telehealth, and lung cancer screening.
I have a Bachelor of Medical Science specialising in pharmacology, and my honours project was on educational strategies to improve dosing and monitoring of the antibiotic vancomycin in hospitals. This interest in antimicrobials lead me to my PhD project, which I have had the privilege of starting this year with supervisors A/Prof Melissa Baysari and Dr Jonathan Penm on evaluating antimicrobial stewardship in digital hospitals.
What is your research on?
My PhD aims to evaluate the use and effectiveness of digital interventions in improving antimicrobial use in hospitals. The medication management process in hospitals is now supported by electronic systems. Clinical decision support such as alerts at the point of prescribing can guide doctors to select the most appropriate antimicrobials. Antimicrobial stewardship teams can review, approve and restrict antimicrobials through the electronic medical record which can be updated in real time with patient results.
My PhD will evaluate the effectiveness of current digital interventions in place in hospitals by analysing data from the hospital’s electronic systems to understand the impact of these interventions on antimicrobial use and patient outcomes. I will also be using qualitative methods such as interviews and observations with doctors, nurses and pharmacists to understand the impact on workflow and perceptions of staff, as acceptability of technology is strongly linked to its effectiveness and use.
What are the real-world consequences of your research?
Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem with an increasing number of medicines becoming ineffective. By improving the use of existing antimicrobials, we can slow down the development of drug resistance, and many digital interventions have the potential to do that. With implementation of new technologies, it is important to evaluate these technologies, to ensure their benefits are being achieved and to inform improvements in future implementations and effective use of resources. At the end of my PhD I hope to understand which digital interventions are the most effective for both patients and health professionals.
What does digital health mean to you?
I have heard a lot of comments about technology “taking over” from people, but I think digital health, with the correct checks and balances, will have the opposite effect. When technology is implemented well to support workflow, digital health provides the opportunity to overcome our limitations and inefficiencies as humans and gives us the ability to enhance the areas where humans thrive, such as patient care and creativity.
Do you have any resources or links you would like to share?
LinkedIn: Connect with Beth
A huge thank you to Beth for being our May 2020 feature.