January 17, 2023

Digital health study recipient of major grant

Kirstin Tirant, Northern Health’s Pleural Clinical Nurse Consultant, has been awarded the Victorian Nurses and Midwives Trust Major Grant 2022. This $100,000 grant will help fund the project ‘Digital Health to Extend Victoria’s First Specialised Ambulatory Pleural Service: A Proof-of-Concept Feasibility Study’.

This project is an extension of the Northern Health Respiratory Department’s Specialist Ambulatory Pleural Service (SAPS) as part of its Pleural Medicine Unit – the only formalised service of its kind in Victoria.

The Victorian Nurses and Midwives Trust (VNMT) offers grants each year to support health services to undertake dedicated nursing and/or midwifery research and education to improve patient outcomes. Kirstin Tirant, the first Pleural Clinical Nurse Consultant in Victoria, and her team submitted a successful application to assess the feasibility of digitalising SAPS in managing individuals with Malignant Pleural Effusion (MPE).

“Kirstin’s study is a fantastic example of how we are looking at innovative models of virtual care to impact the outcomes that matter the most to our patients and the community,” said Dr Katharine See, Director, Respiratory Medicine.

MPE is the build-up of fluid around the lungs and inside the chest wall as a consequence of cancer. One in six Victorians with lung or breast cancer are at risk of developing a MPE. MPEs are associated with serious symptoms which can lead to a significant reduction in quality of life. The role of the Pleural Medicine Unit is to help reduce the impact of these burdensome symptoms, and work with patients to improve the symptoms of breathlessness and to enhance their quality of life.

The pleural team’s study will assess the integration of Digital Health in order to extend Victoria’s first nurse-led specialised ambulatory pleural service. It is a proof-of-concept feasibility study using tele-ultrasound and tele-health to revolutionise the care pathway for patients with malignant pleural effusion. The study aims to bring routine outpatient care to the patient’s home by upskilling and supporting the professional development of nurses to work in the community with digital tools. It is a nurse-led ambulatory model of care that prioritises patient centredness and satisfaction. This will improve patient related outcome measures, and more importantly, give back some precious times to spend with their loved ones.

“Our pleural team is extremely passionate about this project and its potential. We foresee many benefits with the implementation of this transformational model of care for patients, the nursing profession and our health service,” said Kirstin.

“We believe these benefits align with both the strategic goals of our organisation and that of the VNMT – to advance the practice of nurses through education and research and to enhance patient outcomes.”

“This very exciting, nurse-led project is currently underway. The protocol is being reviewed and we’re very excited to welcome two new team members to support the project; Aparna Prasad, Research Coordinator and Vic Justice, Pleural Research Nurse,” said Dr Sanjeevan Muruganandan, Northern Health Lung Specialist and Pleural Lead.

Featured image: Kirstin Tirant and Dr Katharine See.