AUSTRALIA'S first "digital hospital" will be launched today, officially marking the start of the $87.5 million Hervey Bay megaproject.
Construction will begin in January for the new St Stephen's Hospital, with first patients expected in August 2014.
A promised $47 million grant from the Federal Government's Health and Hospitals Fund has been finalised and the design stage completed, allowing UnitingCare and St Stephen's to publicly launch the project.
"We are building the hospital of the future," UnitingCare Health executive director Richard Royle said.
"The new hospital will not only introduce new clinical services and specialists to the area, with more complex medical and surgical care, but also will showcase what is possible to the world."
Mr Royle said the Australian-first e-health system would improve safety and clinical outcomes. "All medical records, X-ray and pathology results will be accessible by doctors and nurses anywhere in the hospital whether at the bedside, or remotely on tablets, mobile phones, laptops or mobile computers on wheels, as well as at nurses' stations," he said.
St Stephen's Hospital director of nursing Jill O'Brien said in addition to all medical records and results being accessible from devices anywhere in the hospital, the nurse call system, phone systems and patient medical devices such as blood pressure machines, and infusion pumps would all be integrated.
"This will mean the development of an entirely new model of care with better accessibility to patient records and other information," Ms O'Brien said.
"It will enable improved sharing of information and results with patients and less time wasted trying to find other staff or equipment.
"The digital capability of St Stephen's Hospital Hervey Bay and the corresponding change and innovation in work practices is an exciting challenge for our clinicians."
The hospital will form the backbone of a planned health precinct at Hervey Bay, attracting specialists to the region to work across both the public and private health sectors.
About 40% of people on the Fraser Coast have private health care or are eligible through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, meaning the new hospital could relieve a substantial burden from the existing public facilities.
It will also create about 300 jobs, from catering staff and cleaners to general practitioners and medical specialists.
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