Innovations in Hospital Healthcare

Innovations in Hospital Healthcare

Exploring Virtual Hospitals, Hospital in the Home, and Hospitals Without Walls.

Advancements in technology have seen an explosion of new terms and concepts in healthcare.

In this article, we aim to demystify three innovative approaches: Virtual Hospitals, Hospital in the Home, and Hospitals Without Walls.

All three challenge traditional notions of hospitals and have potential to revolutionise patient care as they reshape healthcare delivery.

Virtual Hospitals: Remote Care

Virtual hospitals use telehealth and telemedicine technologies to bring medical care directly to patients’ homes. Through video conferencing, remote-monitoring devices, and electronic medical records, healthcare professionals can remotely diagnose, treat, and monitor patients.

Hospital in the Home (HITH): Care in Familiar Surroundings

HITH programs deliver acute-care services to patients within the comfort of their own residences. Healthcare professionals visit patients at home to directly assist with treatment but also use remote-monitoring devices and video conferencing.

Hospitals Without Walls: Care Beyond Traditional Boundaries

A hospital without walls provides healthcare services in non-traditional spaces such as community centres, nursing homes, or even workplaces. The goal is to bring medical care closer to where people live, work, and play, increasing accessibility and equity of healthcare. Multidisciplinary teams leverage technology and resources to provide more convenient and more cost-effective care.

All three models of care offer increased efficiency, accessibility and personalised care experiences. They use technology, patient-centred care, and interdisciplinary collaboration to bring healthcare closer to the individuals who need it — and can help reduce demand for beds in traditional bricks-and-mortar hospital wards.

MediRecords currently supports clients in hospital settings including:

  • My Emergency Doctor virtual teams providing Senior Emergency Physicians to Urgent Care Centres, hospitals and ambulance services across Australia
  • Victorian Virtual Emergency Department and Northern Health outpatient teams as an ePrescribing system
  • Queensland Health virtual emergency department team as an ePrescribing system
  • Queensland Health Hospital and Health Services as a billing and claiming system for outpatient clinics
  • Private hospital VMO (Visiting Medical Officer) consulting suites as an electronic health record (EHR) and patient management system.

As a flexible and scalable EHR platform with inpatient functionality in development, including medication charting, MediRecords is well placed to be the clinical system of record for models of care including HITH and Hospitals Without Walls. 

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    Communication the key to reducing hospital readmissions

    Communication the
    key to reducing
    hospital readmissions

    Can health tech help reduce hospital readmissions?


    According to a global research review, telehealth and virtual wards can certainly make a difference.

    The Deeble Institute — the research arm of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) — reviewed international research on the role of primary care in reducing hospital readmissions.

    In its Evidence Brief no. 24, the Institute says telehealth can be used to boost general practice involvement in hospital discharges and subsequent multidisciplinary virtual care, resulting in fewer unplanned readmissions.

    Unplanned readmissions are associated with poorer health outcomes, dissatisfaction with healthcare, increased costs, and bed blockages.

    The report highlighted research that showed improved communication and coordination of care between GPs, hospitals and/or pharmacists is effective.

    “Effective interventions included … electronic tools to facilitate quick, clear, and structured (health) summary generation… use of electronic discharge notifications; and web-based access to discharge information for general practitioners,” reported the Netherland’s Hesselink and colleagues.

    Virtual wards are another way to reduce risk of hospital readmissions and improve outcomes during hospital-to-home transition, with research indicating these can be effective with specific disease cohorts but less so with non-specific, complex diseases.

    The Evidence Brief contrasted virtual wards with Hospital in the Home (HITH). HITH is a form of remote hospital inpatient care whereas virtual wards facilitate transition from hospital care to home care.

    “Compared to HITH, virtual wards typically have a higher degree of interdisciplinary care coordination and review, are simpler in design and implementation, and have a broader scope of activities,” The Deeble Institute reported.

    “Transitional care is similar to virtual wards, but usually implemented within existing systems. Virtual wards typically require a completely new care pathway and potentially new organisations to manage its implementation.”

    MediRecords Connect provides FHIR (Fast Health Interoperability Resources) and API options for connectivity with hospital systems, including patient administration systems (PAS). MediRecords is deployed as an ePrescribing system at two Australian virtual emergency departments and as an outpatient billing and claiming system for Queensland Health. New functionality enabling multidisciplinary case management and inpatient care will be released later this year.

    MediRecords is also integrated with the Coviu telehealth platform for streamlined virtual consultations.

    Top three Technologies that reduce hospital admissions:

    Further reading

    ‘A wonderful day’: telehealth to become permanent

    Improving Patient Handovers From Hospital to Primary Care

    Consumer adoption of digital health in 2022: Moving at the speed of trust

    PARR++ is dead: long live predictive modelling

    Impact of ‘Virtual Wards’ on hospital use: a research study using propensity matched controls and a cost analysis

    Applying the Integrated Practice Unit Concept to a Modified Virtual Ward Model of Care for Patients at Highest Risk of Readmission: A Randomized Controlled Trial

    Effect of post-discharge virtual wards on improving outcomes in heart failure and non-heart failure populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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