Doctors and nurses in remote Western Australia are using artificial intelligence and virtual reality to save lives.
From a command centre in Perth, clinical experts provide vulnerable patients hundreds of kilometres away with round-the-clock care.
WA Health says the early detection technology has “dramatically transformed” the treatment of Kalgoorlie Health Campus inpatients.
It’s also caught the attention of health professionals across the globe, keen to learn more about how Health in a Virtual Environment is helping regional staff.
Virtual health care manager Adam Lloyd said the remote monitoring system has bolstered the quality of care for high-dependency patients.
It’s also reducing hospital time for patients, slashing bed queues and enabling greater treatment access.
“Patient feedback about HIVE has been incredibly positive,” he said.
“Our patients and their families are comforted knowing the extra level of monitoring they are receiving – knowing someone is monitoring them 24 hours a day.”
A team of three nurses and a doctor uses an artificial intelligence platform to detect and warn of the earliest signs of clinical deterioration in a patient.
Each pod has access to immediate and continuous patient physiological monitoring data, live dashboards with predictive deterioration alerts, clinical applications, medical imaging, evidence-based guidelines and electronic patient records.
These are linked to patients via a range of medical devices and software to identify subtle changes in their condition.
When an alert sounds, clinicians use a two-way audio-visual system to work with staff on the ward, offering a second set of eyes to deliver care.
High-definition cameras that can tilt, pan and zoom, allow the remote team to make visual assessments.
There are five pods providing care in WA that can each monitor up to 250 high-dependency patients, with HIVE also rolled out to surgical and medical wards at Royal Perth Hospital and Armadale Health Service.
In its first year of operation at those facilities in 2021, HIVE reduced the overall time patients were admitted to wards by about 2552 bed days.
Since going live at the Kalgoorlie High Dependency Unit in July, the ward has admitted 187 patients.
The system has reduced patient transfers to city critical care beds, allowing more to receive care in general wards closer to home in the Goldfields region.
This in turn has helped reduce costs and use critical staff more efficiently.
HIVE is also more flexible than traditional healthcare and can be enlarged, moved or scaled down for a fraction of the cost.
Mr Lloyd said this was highly beneficial for WA’s ageing population, many of whom suffer chronic conditions and often need intensive care and critical care beds.
HIVE is also learning from the patient data it collects, enabling WA Health to develop customised AI algorithms and apps to improve care quality.
The development is being observed by health services across the country and in the US, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Some have travelled to WA to better understand how the model has been rolled out in the remote region, 600km northeast of Perth.
“They are always interested in how we can easily scale to take on additional patients at a fraction of the cost of traditional models of care,” Mr Lloyd said.
HIVE has also been deployed to patients in residential aged care facilities and in the community, with a focus on passive home monitoring for those diagnosed with anxiety or depression.