Latest Community News

Illawarra Shoalhaven Hospital HealthPathways pilot targets emergency care

Published on 19 May, 2021 | Return|


Left to Right: Dr Elias Nasser (Senior Clinical Editor), Kerrie O’Leary (Programme Manager and Clinical Editor),
Suzanne Childs (Clinical Editor), Shari Lynch (Coordinator), David Ince (Clinical Editor).

A 12-month pilot programme of Hospital HealthPathways has been established in Illawarra Shoalhaven to help clinicians improve patient journeys in four New South Wales hospitals - Wollongong Hospital, Shellharbour Hospital, Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital, and Milton Ulladulla Hospital.

It’s hoped that the pilot, focusing on 10 emergency care pathways and associated request pages, will help hospital clinicians understand the impact that a HealthPathways programme can have on problem areas identified in the local ED environment.

“Our main motivation for extending into Hospital HealthPathways was to reduce length of stay and improve patient flow - and therefore hopefully patient and staff experiences of care,” says Illawarra Shoalhaven Hospital HealthPathways Programme Manager and Clinical Editor, Kerrie O’Leary.

“Through the achievements of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Community HealthPathways programme, we already know that pathways improve the safety and quality of care. We’re now ready to take the next step with a Hospital HealthPathways programme. The improvement work we’ve undertaken with our local ED clinicians identified the need for pathways/guidelines to help inform them of the steps required for patient care, but also the need for agreement between ED and speciality teams on the roles and responsibilities associated with providing this care,” she explains.

“We hope that the development of Hospital HealthPathways will also help reduce unnecessary testing, and support our junior staff to provide appropriate treatment,” she adds. 

Senior Clinical Editor Dr Elias Nasser is equally optimistic about the Hospital HealthPathways pilot. 

“Joining a living, growing community of like-minded healthcare workers with common challenges, and trying to bring about evidence-based standardisation of care in the hospital context, will help our district on many levels,” he says.

“It will improve quality of care, containing the costs of care by minimising redundant or harmful decision making, and create a sense of common purpose through a single pathway of care, localised to hospital circumstances.”

As the new team looks ahead to the main challenges they are likely to face as they start to establish their HealthPathways programme, Kerrie says trying to secure time to engage with busy clinicians on pathway localisation work is likely to be a significant hurdle.

“Keeping stakeholders engaged will be the key to maintaining our momentum with this programme,” she says.

“We’re integrating this pilot into a broader programme of work for improving access and flow throughout our district. This has given us a broad scope and support from senior executives. We’re also “cross-pollinating” via our Choosing Wisely programme, which is helping to drive improvements in patient care by reducing unnecessary tests, treatments, and procedures. Implementation of the pathways will be supported by project managers working within our EDs and with the help of Shari Lynch – our Pathways Coordinator, who is fabulous at communication and engagement.”

Another challenge will be to quickly compile and localise a critical mass of pathways relating to common conditions, says Elias.

“Once these are compiled, then the programme will have a life of its own as users will begin to "own" these pathways, and the pool of clinical champions will increase.”

Priority pathways

The new Illawarra Hospital HealthPathways team already has a clear focus on their priorities for the first three to six months of the pilot, says Kerrie.

“We’ve moved very quickly to identify a set of 10 pathways that we’re hopeful will demonstrate measurable improvement. We’ve also spent time communicating with senior clinicians about the pilot, and identifying subject matter experts for localisation. Our project team members have roller skates on!!” she says.

More information

It’s expected that the 10 pilot pathways and their associated request pages will go live later this year. 

If you’d like to know more about Hospital HealthPathways, or if your health jurisdiction hasn’t yet joined the HealthPathways Community, please: