Australian hospitals are getting smarter

4 minute read

We’re not in the top 100 yet, but the man who runs the Mayo Clinic says our progress is ‘impressive’.

Australian hospitals are inching up the world rankings in digital health, which an expert says is both “impressive” and on an upward trajectory.

Australia ranked 11th out of the 28 countries featured in Newsweek’s World’s Best Smart Hospitals list, overtaking countries like Singapore, Denmark and Israel.

The eight Australian hospitals which made the 300-hospital list are the Royal Melbourne Hospital (121st), Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (125th), Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (196th), Gold Coast University Hospital (218th), The Alfred (231st), Royal North Shore Hospital (271), St Vincent’s Private Hospital Fitzroy (272nd) and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (300th).

The Alfred and Gold Coast University Hospital were also acknowledged as “standout” hospitals in the Artificial Intelligence and Electronic Functionalities categories respectively.

Hospitals were assessed in three stages. The first was an international online survey completed by hospital managers and professionals “with knowledge of smart hospitals”, which required them to assign a rank to hospitals. Participants could also assign hospitals to a “standout” category, which includes electronic functionalities, telemedicine, digital imaging, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Next, hospitals assessed their adoption and utilisation of digital technologies, encapsulated in the “standout” categories.

Finally, nominated hospitals were reviewed via desk research, which involved the analysis of established health technology websites, scientific publications and press releases.

The three countries with the smartest hospitals were the US, Germany and the UK.

The US took out the top eight spots, with the top-ranked hospital being the Mayo Clinic – Rochester. Part of the US success may be attributed to interoperable electronic health record systems, made commonplace by the 2016 Cures Act, now known as the 21st Century Cures Act.

Dr John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic, says Australia’s ranking is “impressive”.

“That two Australian hospitals making it comfortably into the top half of the list is a good sign that Australian hospitals have gained a foothold among the cohort of the smartest hospitals around the world,” he told The Medical Republic.

“Given the momentum and investment into digital health innovation across the Australian hospital and healthcare sector, I would expect next year’s smart hospital list to continue this trend by not only ranking the already listed Australian hospitals higher but also by adding more Australian hospitals to the list,” he said.

But Dr Halamka acknowledged that “more work needs to be done”.

“Although healthcare providers are enthusiastic about finding a role for AI and ML in routine clinical care, many are not investing in the resources and strategic planning necessary to fully realise that goal,” he writes in Redefining the Boundaries of Medicine.

He believes that to fully embrace technologies hospitals should implement “platform thinking”, which combines technology, data standards, application programming interfaces and security controls. It “determines who can do what, for what purpose and with what privacy controls; and process, for example, what workflow is supported by what people and with what automation”.

“In short, it is a way to use knowledge and technology to facilitate connections and create value.”

The Mayo Clinic has several platform-based projects.

One of these is a new model for at-home acute care, which includes a “24/7 medical command centre staffed with clinicians…emergency medical technicians and nurses who provide bedside care”. The system integrates elements such as a communication, monitoring and safety system technology in the home, a software platform that “orchestrates high-acuity care in patient’s homes” and rapid response logistics systems.

Further, the Mayo Clinic has partnered with Google to extend their Longitudinal Patient Record profile with digitised pathology images, and to “explore new search capabilities to improve digital pathology analytics and AI”. The clinic has additionally employed deep learning to improve cardiovascular services, such as a novel AI-enhanced algorithm used alongside an electrocardiogram.

Dr Halamka also emphasised the importance of controls on the use of AI in healthcare.

“We must ensure that whenever AI is used for decision support, it’s appropriate for the patient being treated. We must have international standards that quantify bias, utility and fitness for purpose.”

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×