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Ballarat Health Services Sustainable Healthcare

In its quest to improve efficiency and improve communication between health professionals and consumers, Ballarat Health Services (BHS) is currently rolling out its new “Choosing Wisely” initiative.

Choosing Wisely is a global healthcare campaign aimed at promoting high quality, evidence based care, with a primary focus on the responsible use of resources, thus minimising waste and harm, and increasing resource sustainability. The program also aims to support healthcare professionals and their patients to engage in conversations relating to patient care, thereby helping consumers make informed choices.

Choosing Wisely week is 4th–8th March, marking almost six months since BHS began rolling out the campaign. The team initially focused on the Emergency Department (ED), and with the success of the program so far are now in the process of expanding the roll-out to become hospital wide.

“We began by looking at a specific blood test which was often unnecessarily performed in the ED. By implementing some simple guidelines, education and small process changes we have sustained a 50% reduction in how often this test is done. With staff spending less time off the floor processing the blood, they are now able to better utilise time doing other necessary tasks which will benefit patients,” says Ms Hannah Ryan-West, BHS Choosing Wisely Project Manager.

Hospital wards at BHS are now also getting on board with Choosing Wisely, with discussions taking place about improvements that can be made in their environments with the objectives of improving patient care, reducing waste and sustaining resources.

In addition to targeting areas for improvement, the Choosing Wisely team are also working on enhancing communication in the hospital.

“Good communication is of utmost importance in achieving the best patient outcomes. As with any organisation, there is always room for improvement, and we want to make sure our consumers feel empowered to ask questions and be involved in decisions relating to their care,” says Dr Mark Hartnell, BHS Choosing Wisely Clinical Lead.

As part of the campaign, informative “5 Questions” posters, developed by Better Care Victoria (BCV), are being placed around the hospital to encourage consumers to ask questions and become more involved in their care.

“We encourage patients and visitors to ask questions – it helps us to help them,” says Ms Ryan-West.