Health and care systems are complex with many interactions and linkages. No single part of the health system provides a complete picture. The digital health research program at La Trobe University aims to address limitations and inefficiencies in the healthcare system resulting from the lack of joined-up information, technology, evidence and knowledge.

Our research program has a focus on enhancing the deployment and use of existing and emerging technologies that capture and analyse all forms of digital data. Themes include:

  1. Exploit new data analytics and visualisation technologies for unlocking information in structured and unstructured data.
  2. Analyse, compare and understand the way digital health platforms/solutions/tools can shape and affect the research agenda of the health ecosystem.
  3. Solve significant development challenges and establish best practices for using digital health data to steer evidence-driven development.
  4. Better understand the changing context for industry partners and address key challenges in delivering digital healthcare innovations.

Some of the current works are as following:

The Virtual Triage in Emergency Department

Digital technology has enabled new methods for patient interactions and the development of innovative virtual healthcare models. These virtual and telehealth services allow us to reimagine how patient care can be delivered. Triage and registration are important elements in streamlining the process of care in the ED.

La Trobe University was engaged in the development and implementation of Virtual Triage using telehealth in Northern Health, a game changer. By focusing on triage and optimising the triage assessment process through digital technology, the time spent waiting has been reduced and timely patient access to care improved. In addition, this process has diverted some non-critical cases, therefore reducing ED waiting room overcrowding and improving timeliness of care for those who have not accessed the virtual service.

Remote Monitoring and Wearable Technology

In an age when nearly everyone is digitally connected it makes sense that the health system is looking at connected health devices and remote patient monitoring technologies to enhance health and care models.

How useful are virtual technologies in remote health care settings, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic in supporting vulnerable communities, minimising risk of re-hospitalisation and to ease the burden of the healthcare system? This project aims to facilitate a planned trial of a new remote health monitoring technology called HalleyAssist at Northern Health to monitor discharged hospital patients at high risk of health degradation and subsequent multiple readmissions to hospital. These trials are part of the Patient Watch service at Northern Health under the broader Staying Well Program which focusses on reducing hospital re-admissions, by monitoring and actively supporting at-risk patients in the community.

Exploring chronic kidney disease outcomes through linked data modelling

The national burden of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is well established. However national reports lack adequate detail to inform the burden of disease within specific populations.

This project aims to review a retrospective cohort of patients to determine the incidence, prevalence and rates of progression of the different stages of CKD in patients. Privacy-preserving Record Linkage will be used to link data from four major pathology providers to state hospital records, to establish a CKD registry with continuous medical record for individuals with biochemical specification for CKD. The project has successfully developed interoperable technology to create a ‘joined up’ data catalogue which is linkable to other datasets. This technology has been embedded with pathology and health systems and results of the pilot linkages are being evaluated. This integrated dataset will permit a better understanding of the individual and societal burden of CKD, enabling better service planning and surveillance guidelines.