2020 NSW Premier's Awards

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 NSW Health Pathology COVID-19 SMS Results Service has been named joint winner in the 2020 NSW Premier's Award for “Putting the Customer at the Centre”. The awards ceremony was held on Wed 4 November.
 
We are proud to share this win with Service NSW for their Disaster Recovery Response. Congratulations, Service NSW!
 
Congratulations to all our amazing staff who contributed to designing, developing and rolling out this pioneering solution in the peak of the pandemic.
 
It has made a huge difference to the lives of over a million people who have received their COVID-19 result by SMS helping reduce their wait, anxiety and time in isolation.
 
Most have received their negative result direct to their phone in under 24 hours thanks to our innovative, automated cloud-based SMS solution.
 
It has been a true team effort led by our in-house experts in DevOps, business intelligence, strategic communications, corporate governance, our new dedicated outbound COVID call centre, our call centres in the operational areas and our staff who literally 'answered the calls' in the early days, by getting on the phones to get results to people.
 
It also would never have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of our pathologists, scientists, technicians, ICT teams, couriers and administrative staff.  
 
Thanks also to our partners in the wider health system across the LHDs, Service NSW as well as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
 
Special mention to Liz Geddes, Project Lead; James Patterson, Chief Information Officer; Dr Stephen Braye CMIO and our ICT team – Nathan Anstess, Nicholas Whitall, Phil Summerville, Jessica Shepherd, Tim Eckersley, Des Horsley, Tyler Haigh and Ross Armitage.
 
 Congratulations also to Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer, for winning the NSW Public Servant of the Year. What an incredibly worthy person to receive this award.
 
Throughout the response, she has weighed up scientific evidence alongside the broader impact of protective measures on individuals, communities and business. Kerry is widely admired for her exceptional intellect, decisive leadership, strategic partnerships and human touch. 

The NSW Premier's Awards for Public Service recognise and celebrate the exemplary work and achievement of public servants in delivering to the citizens of NSW. This year, the awards team received 295 nominations across teams and individual categories. Nominated by their peers, they represent the hard work and dedication of world class public service.

A recording of the awards ceremony is also available on the Premier's Awards website .

Testing times deliver pioneering solutions

In the first few months following the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in Australia, NSW Health Pathology tested 2,000 to 3,500 COVID-19 samples a day.

The sheer volume of highly specialised testing and the need to provide all negative results via phone, meant most patients were waiting up to a week for negative results.

Fast forward to August and NSW Health Pathology was testing anywhere up to 16,000 samples a day, yet patients were receiving their result in less than half the time. So, what changed?

In April, NSW Health Pathology's Chief Information Officer James Patterson, and SMS Results Service Project Manager Liz Geddes, led a project team to rapidly pioneer a solution to automatically deliver negative COVID-19 results directly to patients via SMS.

Thanks to the efforts of the project team, for the first time in NSW, patients could opt in to get their COVID-19 results sent to them directly via text message. Positive results have always been reported immediately to the patient's referring doctor and public health unit.

Ms Geddes said the service has helped patients get their results faster, which in turn eased anxiety and reduced unnecessary time in self-isolation, which is an important factor in keeping testing numbers high.

Patients of all ages and locations across the state registered for the service. By mid-September, the SMS Results Service had passed a major milestone, with more than one million patients registering to receive their negative results via SMS. As of mid-October, registrations are close to 1.1 million.

By cutting down the time needed to call patients with their negative result, the service is saving lab and healthcare workers from spending thousands of hours on calls to patients, freeing them up to focus on vital clinical care. To date, an estimated 181,333 hours have been saved; the equivalent of 22,666 health worker shifts.

Throughout the development of the SMS Results Service, patient privacy and security have been paramount.

Mr Patterson said patients must opt in through a registration and identity verification process when they are tested at a NSW public hospital or public COVID-19 clinic.

'Data security is critical to this process and the SMS notification system integrates with existing statewide security and other support infrastructure to ensure patient privacy and data integrity is maintained,' Mr Patterson said.

This critical negative results notification service was developed by NSW Health Pathology with support from eHealth, along with assistance from Amazon Web Services, Deloitte Australia and Microsoft.

'The project team, our staff across the state and the people of NSW, have all played a part in establishing and ensuring the ongoing success of the SMS Results Service,' Mr Patterson said.

'This project has been a real team effort.'

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Some our COVID Result Centre staff:  Kate Laarkamp , Jackie Wright, Samantha Penman, Rachel Stiller and Robyn Hooper.