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In a non-descript warehouse in a Macquarie Park industrial estate, the future of health is being put to the test.
The furnishings are deceptively basic, but the new facility – the Health Prototyping Centre – is where NSW Health Pathology (NSWHP) will put some of its most progressive ideas and prototypes through their paces.
The Centre is a new jointly-created and funded venture between NSW Health Pathology, eHealth NSW, HealthShare NSW and Health Infrastructure NSW.
Martin Canova, NSWHP Director of Strategy & Transformation, who provides strategic direction on behalf of NSW Health Pathology, said the Centre will provide an exciting opportunity for pathology staff and partnering collaborators to tackle some of our most complex health challenges.
“The Health Prototyping Centre will enable us to explore potential solutions before investing further time and funding into a final option to improve people’s experiences of health.”
NSW Health Pathology has access to a large slab of open-plan space, with room to simulate a laboratory, and a collection room with waiting area. There is also a simulated four-bed ward space, a nurse’s station and space for home-based simulations.
Dr Alex Garrett, Service Designer with NSW Health Pathology, said the Centre will give NSW Health Pathology floor space – and thinking space – to change pathology services for the better.
“The Centre is an excellent resource that will help us deliver more future-focussed, sustainable services,” Dr Garrett said.
“Prototyping teams will focus on whether it fits the needs of patients and staff, whether we have the right systems and technology to support it and if it is viable and sustainable long-term.
“We’ll be able to determine what new and improved ideas, service and technology should be further developed and potentially introduced into healthcare settings. It will also allow us to discover which ideas do not warrant further investment of time or funding.”
So far, the Centre has given pathology staff based at Blacktown Hospital space to workshop how they might accommodate new and updated lab equipment, as well as new way of working, to make best use of the lab space available to them. Anatomical Pathologists are also investigating augmented reality as a means of supervising junior staff.
Dr Garrett said prototyping would be a shift away from piloting commonly used in health.
“Prototyping is very different to piloting,” Dr Garrett said. “Piloting involves testing one single solution to a problem which either passes or fails.
“Prototyping is much more flexible and allows us to try out a number of potential solutions to learn what works well and what are the ‘deal breakers’ to introducing the solution across the health system.
Another plus is that the vast majority of prototyping can be done at little cost.”
Dr Garrett said the beauty of prototyping is that even a ‘failed’ project provides valuable insights.
“Even when a solution is not found, we learn more about the problem and how we might approach it next time,” Dr Garrett said.
“For example, prototyping may provide evidence why a project – possibly one with millions of dollars in funding attached to it – should not go ahead. Or, we may discover a product or service is a good idea, but we don’t yet have the equipment, IT capability or the right staff to introduce it into our services right now.”