This month we profile the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) at Western Sydney Health, Associate Professor Naren Gunja. We asked Naren what digital health means to him and what are some of the highlights of working at Westmead.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
My week is a mix of clinical work in the ED and ICT-related activities across the district (Western Sydney LHD). I act as an advisor and strategist to design and build better digital systems in our hospitals. I delve into the operational issues, as well as thinking about where we need to be in 5 years’ time.
How do you define digital health?
Digital Health is an umbrella term to describe a range of electronic and technological initiatives that help to drive better health outcomes for our patients. Digital health enables our clinicians to access information easier, record patient data more efficiently and help them learn from their casemix. Ultimately, health care providers become part of a learning organisation that reviews and improves its practice over time.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed?
Success comes from good ideas and determination. The passion for improvement comes from patients and clinicians who ask questions like “why didn’t that work well?, why isn’t this easier?, How can I do this better next time?”, and then do something about finding answers to these questions.
Have you come across any surprises or challenges along the way?
Digital initiatives always lead to change and that can be uncomfortable at all levels. However, sitting down with clinicians, listening to their concerns and explaining the coming change always helps. Patients now have increasing expectations of clinicians being connected, engaged with technology and well informed – the challenge is for clinicians to meet these 21st century expectations.
What are some of the highlights of working at Westmead?
Westmead is a very big place and getting bigger with the precinct. I’m always discovering something new or different, even 25 years after starting here as a medical student. Westmead has made a quantum leap this year with the eMR and eMeds uplift. Excitement is growing with less than 12 months to go until we move into the new acute services building and innovation hub.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/topic/healthcare
HISA CXIO Network https://www.hisa.org.au/cxionetwork/
A huge thank you to Naren for being a November Westmead issue feature!