"I was drawn to the course for the intersection of IT, technology and healthcare, and how digital technology could improve overall healthcare, including oral health. I did my undergraduate and postgraduate training at the University of Melbourne, so naturally this was my first place to start."
As a clinician, I regularly use electronic health record (EHR) systems at different hospitals. However, I wanted to know more about infrastructure, data security, user experience and system integration. I also observed a general lack of system integration in healthcare. I wanted to understand more and why this is occurring in Australia. My first port of call was to contact Professor Kathleen Gray from the Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics and Digital Health for a coffee at Peter Mac, and here I am 18 months later, a graduate of the course.
I was drawn to the course for the intersection of IT, technology and healthcare, and how digital technology could improve overall healthcare, including oral health. I did my undergraduate and postgraduate training at the University of Melbourne, so naturally this was my first place to start. I was also attracted to the range of health backgrounds of our teaching staff.
During the COVID-19 disruption, most of our teachings were delivered online. The Faculty’s ability to shift quickly and effectively to an online learning environment demonstrates a new ‘norm’ of tertiary education, which shares a lot of similarities with the future of digital health.
Despite the online environment, the course allowed students to network and share ideas in a respectful adult environment which was a wonderful opportunity. Our students and tutors work in their respective fields and it was great to leverage off each other’s knowledge and experience, from IT to pharmaceutical industries. None of my previous MDHS health courses provided that experience.
The use of LMS (Learning Management System) to access teaching materials, lecture recordings and to submit assignments has been a great help. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to navigate within the LMS environment and fully utilise its functionality to communicate and collaborate with other students.
During semester two, we were introduced to different types of software to help consolidate our learning and understanding of digital health. We completed our assignments using programs such as Tableau (for data analysis) and Disco (for process mining). It was very useful we analysing big data and I even used it for work the very next week.
During our weekly group assignment work with students from a non-health background, I learnt about the convenience and the effectiveness of reaching consumers (patients) and service providers (healthcare practitioners) using apps on phones and devices. This has been very insightful as a clinician to see the potential of technology in digital health.
Many of the teaching staff on this course are very experienced and are also heavily involved with The Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH), a peak body representing professionals of digital health in this country. I was informed of the regular AIDH events and as students we were encouraged to participate.
Since finishing the Grad Cert, I am now a member in the ICT committee at the Dental Health Service Victoria (DHSV), providing clinical input to ideas and changes into the current e-health system. I am also on the Clinical Leadership Group and the Telehealth working group, providing clinician and UX input.
I signed up to the Telstra Health hackathon in November 2020. Having a better understanding of IT and technology, I was placed in a team of Telstra and IT developers and coders to help solve a real-time health issue at an aged care facility. And guess what? We came up with a pretty good solution and came third overall! Not a bad effort for a first timer.
Currently, I hold several appointments in public hospitals. My primary responsibilities at DHSV include referral screening, inter-discipline treatment planning and direct dental care. At the Royal Children’s Hospital, I work in a team of Paediatric dentists and orthodontists to provide dental treatment to children with congenitally missing teeth and cleft lip/cleft palate. At the Monash Medical Centre, I work with Oro-maxillofacial (OMS), Plastics and ENT surgeons to provide dental rehabilitation for cancer patients.
My biggest reward is being able to apply my skills and experience to benefit a wide range of dental patients. I enjoy working in different healthcare systems, each with its own challenges, EMR platforms and unique groups of patients. Job variety plays a large part of my professional motivation.
I am inspired by great innovations that will help our healthcare providers to better care for our population. I believe in improving access to health care for many, many more people, especially those who are disadvantaged and live in remote parts of Australia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the problems and delays in our local and global health responses. But at the same time, virus detection and the race to achieve vaccination in our population is encouraging. The battle to control the health problem is not over yet. Digital health will play a large part in this so watch this space.