High-tech virtual emergency department put to test
A MILLION-dollar cutting-edge nerve centre at Cairns Hospital has passed its coronavirus trial by fire with flying colours.
Thanks to the "virtual emergency department", doctors can make split-second decisions to co-ordinate care and save lives with minimal delay.
The bank of screens, interactive dashboards and networked communications installed next to the Emergency Department is called the Cairns Patient Access Co-ordination Hub, or CPACH.
Trialled since February, CPACH arrived in time for COVID-19 to test the mettle of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.
Staffed by specialist medical and paramedic personnel, the hub gives a bird's-eye view of CHHHS' entire patient flow network, ranging from the ED to rural medical clinics.
The system delivers live standardised monitoring, alerts, predictions, advice and support to health staff.
Doctors can see bed availability in each ward and hospital across the region, and the availability of ambulances to transport their patients between facilities.
CHHHS director of emergency medicine Richard Stone said in the first two months of operation, CPACH gave clinical advice to 78 GPs and rural clinicians across the region.
The timesaving system allowed patients to be cared for closer to home without transfer to Cairns.
"In the same time period, CPACH co-ordinated more than 500 inter-hospital transfers to Cairns Hospital, of which 35 per cent were safely admitted directly to a ward bed," Mr Stone said.
"This avoided potential overcrowding in the emergency department."
He said CPACH had been a huge asset for the health service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The role of the hub has been particularly important in helping to manage demands on the health service," he said.
Thanks to the system, Queensland Ambulance Service has been able to co-ordinate and prioritise patient care.
"Having a single point of contact allows us to safely and efficiently transfer non-critical patients between health facilities and better assist rural clinicians," QAS Cairns assistant commissioner Michelle Baxter said.
Originally published as High-tech virtual emergency department put to test