Healthcare professionals and consumers connected in a virtual forum hosted last week by the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) to showcase innovations making a difference to patient care across rural and regional NSW.
Raj Verma from the ACI explains that the Rural Innovations Changing Healthcare (RICH) Forum brought people together who want to make a difference in rural healthcare to encourage the spread of successful healthcare innovation. He writes:
The RICH Forum was organised with the help of a working party including representatives from rural sites across the state and the ACI’s Rural Health Network.
Using a blend of face to face and videoconference technology and social media, the one day ‘virtual’ forum linked 17 satellite hubs across rural NSW including:
- Broken Hill
- Coffs Harbour
- Port Macquarie
- Wagga Wagga
Hunter New England (HNE) Local Health District web streamed the event live to HNE desktops.
How did we do it?
Clinical champions were engaged at each of the sites to drive local engagement and training was provided in using the technology and equipment.
17 rural sites were selected and information packages were sent to local site coordinators.
Resources included attendance sheets, helpdesk numbers, teleconference backup details, powerpoint presentations, contact details for all site coordinators and consent forms, to allow ACI to record and share the forum presentations, and evaluation forms.
What barriers did we face?
Using virtual technology is often a barrier for rural areas and training was carried out with staff at local sites to overcome this. Videoconference services were tested before the event.
Were there any issues we had to resolve?
Presentations needed to be adapted to ensure videoconference compatibility (no animations, videos) which could have impacted the connection.
What we’ve learned?
It’s crucial to conduct test runs with all sites and to have IT support and excellent communication on the day.
The forum has attracted over 200 registrations including people from the rural multidisciplinary workforce, non-government organisations, Local Health Districts, Aboriginal Medical Services, Medicare Locals, Residential Aged Care Providers, NSW Ambulance, Royal Flying Doctor, University Departments of Rural Health and the Royal Far West Kids.
Generally, the smaller the rural site, the higher the number of people attended, such as Inverell, Broken Hill, and Bega.
Presentations at the RICH Forum showcased a wide range of innovative rural models for workforce recruitment and retention and improved patient care that have the potential for broader implementation.
For more on the RICH Forum including links to the program, video and presentations visit: www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/networks/rural-health/rich
To join the Rural Health Network visit: www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/networks/rural-health
Visit the RICH Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/groups/rich2014/