11 July 2023

Automation picture

Automated near-real-time transmission of health incidents has gone live at several Victorian health services, supporting faster and more comprehensive reporting of the Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS) minimum dataset (MDS). In its early days, the automation is already providing significant benefits for health services.

Near-real-time incident data is needed to enable the Department of Health and Safer Care Victoria (SCV) to proactively identify emerging safety risks across the sector and to support more timely and meaningful benchmarking by health services.

The automation upgrade targets health services using the incident reporting and management system RiskMan®. Health services using the department’s VHIMS Central Solution incident management system have been reporting near-real-time incident data since 2020.

VAHI partnered with Austin Health to design the solution for automated transmission, which was successfully piloted at Austin Health in late May. The solution is being implemented across other health services in the first quarter of 2023-24, with Alfred Health, Melbourne Health and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre going live in early July.

Austin Health Project Lead Simone Murphy says automation has been seamless and is already having an impact.

“As a conservative estimate, I think we are saving eight hours a week,” Ms Murphy said.

“Previously the transmission process required a lot of manual input to individually mark the ‘ready to transmit’ box, and then transmit the queued records.

“As well as making our reporting timelier, automation has freed the team up and enabled us to get back to focusing on incident management and improvement.”

The VHIMS reporting strategy was released alongside the automation trial in May. Work is underway to develop the first phase of reports, including the Early Warning System and Statewide Benchmarking reports.

The Early Warning System reports will include near-real-time data, however data for Statewide benchmarking reports will be lagged by 30 days to enable health services to validate key incident details – which Ms Murphy said has been critical to reassuring health services who were concerned about reporting unvalidated data.

“Health services have said they really feel like their voices are being heard. They are looking forward to seeing how their incident data compares to their peers and starting those conversations that support learning and improvement.”

VAHI CEO Dr Lance Emerson recognised VAHI’s partnership with Austin Health in delivering these important reforms.

“Austin Health have engaged extensively with health services to bring the sector perspective to this project, which has been critical to us getting near-real-time incident reporting right,” Dr Emerson said.

“The partnership has created an excellent foundation for VAHI to continue to engage with health services as we commence the next phase of reforms, including the review of the VHIMS MDS.”

VAHI will work with other incident management system vendors in the second half of 2023 to design and implement changes needed to enable automated reporting for health services using their systems.

For more information about VHIMS and the automation project, please contact VAHI’s Manager of Safety and Surveillance, Anna Ezzy, at [email protected].