February 9, 2021

How innovation happens

With our Virtual Emergency Department the first of its kind in Australia, Northern Health is leading digital transformation in health care. Hospitals across the state are now expressing interest to implement our model, with our staff actively sharing expertise and experience.

The innovation space is booming, accelerated by the pandemic and supported by hard work and fresh ideas that come from clinicians and the project management team.

Ariana Carrodus, Project Manager, has been making ideas happen and is happy to share the Ideas Lab is now back up and running.

“Since 2017, Northern has had physical Ideas Lab space, which we are really lucky to have. I think we are the only health service with a creative space like this. We are also lucky to have the Chief Executive and the Executive team that think differently and encourage staff to do so. When we were building the Ideas Lab, I was lucky enough to get to run this space and make ideas come to life. We had to stop the sessions in 2020, but we are now back,” Ariana explains.

Sessions at the Ideas Lab have brought many creative ideas out in the open. The idea itself is just the starting point, it’s the dedication of numerous teams that brings it all together, and ultimately improves the quality of our care. Along with the workshops in this space, there is an IdeasScale portal, open to all staff to engage with a project or an idea and contribute.

Last year, in line with COVID-19, the team realised there was a lot of change being done really quickly.

“Health care historically is slow-moving, so we wanted to harness that momentum and keep things moving. That is how we launched ‘Sprints’ – a number of projects with a quick turnaround time. We pitched ideas to the Chief Executive and Executive around how to digitalise models of care or provide care in the home,” she explained.

One of these ‘Sprints’ ideas was the successful Virtual Emergency Department (ED). From idea to go-live, the team had 12 weeks to make it all happen. The ‘Sprints’ are run by clinicians, while the project management team coaches and supports the project.

“Virtual ED was a clinician’s idea and the best projects are the ones that come from frontline staff. When they are living and breathing a problem every day, they are the ones to suggest how we do things differently. We need the subject matter experts on the floor to be coming up with ideas. The project management team can facilitate, coach, enable and support, but the work and idea has to come form our staff,” she added.

A number of ‘Sprints’ projects are currently being developed, including Eve – the maternity app launching in February, Chemo at Home project, and the Muscular-Skeletal Wellness project.

To bring these digital solutions into one place, the team are now working on a Northern Health app, which will help patients find our digital services easily.

“If you are a maternity patient and using Eve, you might also need to visit ED for some reason, and patients would be able to find both Eve and the Virtual ED on the Northern Health app,” she explained.

Ariana enjoys working on innovation projects and seeing transformation happen – “people sometimes think change means more work, but we are actually trying to make the lives of our patients better and it should never be more work for our staff. It should be around making workflows more efficient. We have engaged and savvy staff – and that is why innovation thrives at Northern,” Ariana said.

This year, Ariana hopes to bring guest speakers back to Ideas Lab, which is now open for creative sessions and workshops. If you would like to get involved in innovation, have an idea, or would like to chat to Ariana on using the space for your next creative session, please email her here.