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Sydney Innovation and Research Symposium

Digital technology drives the future of healthcare.

SydneyConnect Video: Highlights: Sydney Innovation and Research Symposium – part of Innovation Week 2022 (Day 5)

The future of healthcare was the focus of the final day of the Sydney Innovation and Research Symposium, with the role of technology becoming instrumental in the way care is delivered to patients, their families and the community.

Hosted by Julie McCrossin AM, the Symposium opened with a short address from the NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce, who thanked staff for their hard work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We would never have made it through the traumas of the pandemic experience that we've all endured without you, so thank you  one and all," Susan Pearce

Executive Director of Digital Health and Innovation Richard Taggart said advances in digital health technology will revolutionise patient care.

"If you use technology you can actually completely redefine how care is provided to our community. The next couple of years are going to be really interesting for all of us particularly at this District," he said.

He told the Symposium the District will soon launch its Digital Health Strategy 2022–2027 with the key goals of introducing a single digital patient record, being a world leader in virtual care, and implementing, Florence, a  digital patient portal.

Health consumer advocate Harry Iles-Mann - who has a history of chronic illnesses - is driven by his own experiences affect change in the healthcare sector.

"People, perspectives and experiences remain our most powerful drivers of research and innovation. The future of health is human," he said.

A panel — featuring Customer Service and Digital Government Minister Victor Dominello MP, NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce, Health consumer advocate Harry Iles-Mann, Healthdirect Australia's Chief Executive Officer Bettina McMahon and the founder of Creative Careers in Medicine Dr Amandeep Hansra — discussed the future of digital healthcare.

In his keynote address Professor Nick Glozier focussed on next generation psychiatric treatment for treatment-resistant major depression.

He's the head of RPA's Ketamine Treatment Clinic, where patients receive esketamine nasal spray, an anti-depressant that contains a constituent of ketamine. The Clinic is first of its kind in the public health system in Australia.

"Fifty percent of people get better — and 25 per cent of them get completely better. These are response rates we have never seen before," Professor Glozier said.

The treatment has improved patient Rob Valenti's quality of life.

"Before I started this treatment, I really struggled. But now I can do the things that people take for granted — having a shower every, leaving the house, doing the dishes and cooking," he said.

There were two winners of The Pitch — an innovation challenge sees staff pitch their ideas — no matter how big or small — to drive positive changes in services, improve patient care or support the community.

Dr Mark Greenhalgh, the Head of Newborn Care at RPA Hospital, won $15,000 to create a program tailored to make new dads feel more included in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

RPA Endocrinologist Dr Samantha Hocking won $15,000 for a customised app called MyVLED that aims to remotely support patients in obesity management.

The Great Debate — that health is now a technology industry — was declared a tie.

During a key note address about the District's COVID response, Tina Cassaniti shared her story, alongside RPA Pulmonary Rehabilitation Physiotherapist Associate Professor Lissa Spencer, Respiratory Staff Specialist Associate Professor Lauren Troy and Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist Dr Karen Chia.

As the Symposium drew to a close, broadcaster Ray Hadley thanked healthcare workers for their hard work, dedication and compassion caring for the community during the pandemic.