The COVID-19 lockdown may have prevented the party, but didn’t dent the pride of the Western Sydney Community HealthPathways team when they celebrated attaining 500 pages in May.
(Top row L to R) Dr Michelle Crockett, Clinical Lead; Luke Smith, Programme Manager; Esra Kandan, Programme Coordinator
(Mid row L to R) Dr Aditi Mahto, Clinical Editor; Dr Jason Yu, Clinical Editor; Dr Stephen George, Clinical Editor
(Bottom row L to R) Sahil Ebrahimi, Programme Officer; (no image) Dr Diana Rajan, Clinical Editor.
“Looking back over the past 2-3 years, our team members have constantly learned, adapted, and improved the way we do things, so adapting to an online celebration wasn’t ever going to impact how good we feel about what we’ve achieved,” says Western Sydney HealthPathways Programme Coordinator, Esra Kandan.
“We hopped onto a Zoom call and gave ourselves a virtual pat on the back,” she says.
In addition to the Zoom “party” the important achievement was communicated on various platforms throughout the local health system, including social media, newsletters, and Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) communications channels.
Members of the combined team who were instrumental in reaching this important milestone include the WentWest HealthPathways team, the WSLHD HealthPathways Manager, the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) HealthPathways Coordinator, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), the WentWest Marketing and Communications team, WentWest Practice Development Team, and Streamliners technical writing team, explains Esra.
“We have a wide group working on the programme, but everyone is pulling together in the same direction,” she says.
“Both within our own internal team and more widely with our partners in the WSLHD, we constantly review processes to see where there is potential to improve. Our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are also increasingly engaged with the programme, so we’re all continually looking for ways to work more efficiently,” says Esra.
“This includes looking at each step in the pathway development process, to gauge what we can do to speed things up, and to ensure feedback is received and actioned within a reasonable timeframe,” she explains.
Learning from challenges and achievements
Thinking back over the team’s main achievements to date, Esra highlights what the team have learned from difficult situations.
‘’Working through acute events such as COVID-19, while very challenging, also helped us build the team, strengthen wider relationships, and become more adaptable. We learned a lot, as everyone worked together to provide a timely and appropriate crisis response,” she says.
“For the COVID-19 response, we quickly changed our methods for prioritising while we focused all resources on COVID-19 work. Before that, our approach was much more systematic, with new pathway work being prioritised over review work. During COVID, we simply made sure that everything that needed action was attended to as quickly as we could turn it around. That really honed our skills for rapid and focused collaboration, with the additional aspect of suddenly no longer working face to face,” she says.
“We’re now slowly getting back to business as usual, with a big backlog to address, but also with a higher level of engagement from clinicians as a result.”
Keeping multiple partners engaged
Partners involved in the Western Sydney HealthPathways programme include the Western Sydney LHD (Local Health District) and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. Having such a large number of SMEs to engage with, the work of Julianne Bogdanovski - Integrated Health Pathways Manager, and Joanne McSweeney – Integrated Care Project Coordinator, has been invaluable for engagement, says Esra.
“We have great collaboration with the hospitals. Julianne and Joanne are always looking for ways to keep our clinicians engaged, and ‘think outside of the box’,” she says.
“They invest time in visiting the heads of departments to explain what our HealthPathways programme is trying to achieve, where the need for localised information is, how they can help, and how HealthPathways will help them achieve their outcomes in return,” she says.
Education also plays an important role. The team look for opportunities to showcase HealthPathways to local health professionals via specific HealthPathways education sessions, practice visits, and events. HealthPathways Managers at WSLHD and SCHN continuously look for ways to engage clinicians from their districts, as well as ways to generally raise the exposure of HealthPathways. Other engagement tactics include permanent HealthPathways intranet banners on WSLHD and SCHN websites, so that clinicians can access HealthPathways in one click, with banner content updated for particular topics, such Diabetes Week, Palliative Care, or Hepatitis.
“The key to building and maintaining engagement is relationships, relationships, relationships,” says Esra.
“It’s absolutely first and foremost. There’s no room for an ‘us and them’ mentality in any part of the programme. You’ve got to be regularly looking at what you’ve done, how it works, and understand that what works for one team may not work for another. Everyone in our HealthPathways programme is engaged, from the WSLHD and SCHN managers through to our own internal team and the Streamliners technical writing team, whose guidance is key.”
“We’re one big team, we’re all very actively involved and interested in what we do. I really like that,” she says.
Looking forward, the Western Sydney team have a lot of work in the pipeline, with future plans including continuing to raise the profile of HealthPathways throughout the local health system, implementing strategies to improve the review process, streamlining the process for localising new pathways, working with the WSLHD to localise referral pages, and producing a Western Sydney HealthPathways introductory video.
“Running a HealthPathways programme is a delicate balance between so many aspects,” says Esra.
“Of course, our journey so far hasn’t been all roses as we’ve certainly had our challenges, but overall, everyone is positive about what we’re achieving in terms of local patient care, and that’s what is important.”
For tips and resources to help you build HealthPathways engagement in your area, see Getting General Practice Engaged with HealthPathways, or Engagement and Education. These resources have been provided by members of the HealthPathways Community.
If you have any questions about the Western Sydney HealthPathways Programme, please contact your lead writer.