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The medical head of a leading nationwide virtual hospital, Dr Emily Kirkpatrick CHIA, will detail at AI.Care how the hospital has cared for more than 200,000 patients and had no serious incidents.

Dr Kirkpatrick, Executive Medical Director of The Calvary-Amplar Health Joint Venture (CAHJV) Virtual Hospital, will deliver a keynote about implementation of artificial intelligence in the virtual hospital at AI.Care 2023. The session is a must for anyone delivering virtual care.

She said the National Safety and Quality Health Service-accredited hospital had cared for patients across five jurisdictions in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland since it began three years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have developed robust clinical governance, with no serious clinical incidents,” she said. “The key is that doctors have oversight which retains patient safety as the most important thing. We don’t run a virtual emergency department but patients are referred from emergency departments, general practice, aged care facilities or wards into our service.

“We began caring for people unwell with Covid in their own home then expanded COVID Care at Home to enable an innovative triage covering five states using AI to assist with patient triage.”

COVID Care at Home had many coronavirus patients and was run on a huge scale. The Virtual Hospital within South Australia, My Home Hospital, was delivered on behalf of SA Health.

Dr Kirkpatrick will reveal how efficiencies were created through the AI-based patient assistant technology to support non-clinical triage into the service and how AI usage expanded to post-operative care. She will detail how partnering with health organisations grew AI capacity with a focus on safety and outcomes while relieving pressure on busy hospitals and highlighting opportunities to expand the service.

Layers of safety

She will explain how red flags were built into the system including asking patients questions to stratify them into low, medium or high risk.

“There are different layers of safety to ensure triage is safe, with clinician oversight key,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.
One partnership used an algorithm to identify patients suitable for the Virtual Hospital using a ‘pull’ approach to identify patients occupying beds in bricks and mortar hospitals who might be suitable for acute at home care, pulling data from patients in emergency and post-surgery wards and analysing why they were admitted. She will explain how a virtual dashboard accessed electronic medical records, enabling consumers admitted within general medical teams to be rapidly identified for virtual acute care, and discharged from emergency or wards with a one click referral.

The system excludes intensive care patients, children and high risk for home care ‘flagged patients’ such as known intravenous drug users.

Dr Kirkpatrick will expand on the benefits of real time data and successes of the system that led to low readmission rates and re-presentation to emergency.

Many at home checks

Patients at home in the virtual hospital are checked on in a medical-led virtual daily ward round by a specialist doctor, with a multidisciplinary team virtual review, which may include a nurse, clinical pharmacist or allied health practitioner.

Nurses physically visit patients up to four times a day, and patients can access virtual wear at home technology, and 24/7 pathology and radiology at home, with oxygen and medications waiting for patients in their home. Home visits by paramedics are an essential part of the service for escalation or high-risk patients. Specialist GPs and consultant physicians are employed within the service.

“We employ many nurses, paramedics and other healthcare professionals in the community to enable acute care within the home,” Dr Kirkpatrick said. “Subtle reductions in blood pressure (BP) can be important for some patients, so BP can be checked and fed into the system every 15 minutes for higher acuity and more complex patients. This is done through patch technology, as well as Bluetooth connected blood pressure cuffs linked to hospital tablets, which is especially important for post-surgical patients.”

Dr Kirkpatrick will detail how the hospital has cared for more than 1500 patients from residential aged care homes in SA and supported residents across jurisdictions during the pandemic for Covid care.

Future initiatives include incorporating voice AI into clinical workflows while maintaining doctor oversight.
Dr Kirkpatrick’s keynote on clinical perspectives, the potential of AI in health and AI implementation in the virtual hospital will be during plenary session two on policy and the consumer on the opening day of AI.Care 2023.

The Australasian Institute of Digital Health presents AI.Care 2023 at Crown Melbourne from November 22-23.

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