September 18, 2014 – Datacom, one of Australasia’s largest independent business technology solutions providers, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a 20% stake in the innovative Canberra-based Australian health informatics company SmartWard.  

Datacom is now also the exclusive supply and support organisation for the SmartWard solution in this region.

SmartWard is an Australian-developed software system that automates nursing records and manages nursing workflow, while improving quality of patient care. It also provides decision-support for doctors, nurses and other medical staff, increasing the time that they spend with patients, helping to reduce errors and assisting hospitals to manage overall costs.

Mark McWilliams, Director of Investments at Datacom says, “We are delighted to announce our strategic partnership with SmartWard. This team of Australian innovators has developed a unique software system that is keenly focused on improving health outcomes. We are looking forward to combining our organisational capability with SmartWard and working in unison to rapidly apply the benefits of their solution to address the needs of healthcare providers in our region.”

Datacom is also announcing the appointment of Dr Keith Joe as Chief Medical Information Officer for Datacom Healthcare Solutions, a new business unit for the company.

“Dr Joe is well-known in the Australian and New Zealand healthcare sector with an outstanding background. He is a practising Emergency Physician, Founder and Director of the GeoHealth Directory and recent Clinical Director of the Australian Centre for Health Innovation. It’s a boon to bring his depth of experience to our solutions-focused drive into the healthcare sector,” says Mark McWilliams.

Dr Joe says, “We now have an enterprise technology solution that understands and meets the workflow needs of clinicians, with inbuilt automation, quality and safety; and productively uses technology at the bedside to benefit the patient.”

Lindsay Bevege, Chief Executive, SmartWard says, “Datacom are the perfect investor and go-to-market partner for us. Datacom will install and support SmartWard in major hospitals and their investment enables us to accelerate both the roll-out of the technology to customers and the development of further functionality in the core technology.”

Clinical trials carried out in 2013 at two campuses of Eastern Health in Melbourne, by Deakin University’s Centre for Clinical Nursing Research, found that SmartWard reduced the amount of time that nurses spent on documentation, and freed them up to perform more high-value tasks such as spending time with patients.

Specifically, nurses increased the proportion of time spent at patient bedsides from 32.8% to 48.1%, and increased the amount of time spent interacting with patients from 7.9% to 23.6%. These improvements have massive implications across the healthcare sector.

A review of these results by Deloitte Access Economics found that redeploying the saving in nurse time to patient care could provide significant benefit to hospitals by healing people more quickly, minimising readmissions and avoiding treatment errors. Extrapolating the results of international meta-studies, Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the reduced length of stay would save hospitals $50,000 per bed pa.  If delivered across a 600 bed hospital annual improvements of around $30M could be expected with a payback on the SmartWard solution within 12 months. Extend these numbers across the region and there is scope for huge benefits within the health sector.  The SmartWard Solution could also help reduce waiting lists for hospital treatment. 

The Deloitte Access Economics review noted that the redeployment of nurse time to patient care increased job satisfaction while effectively shifting nurses’ time away from low-value administrative work toward high value clinical care. The ready availability of highly accurate data on patients would also facilitate higher quality care at lower total cost.

The strategic investment supports Datacom’s long term strategic plan to invest in the development of new capabilities via solutions for vertical market segments such as health, education and local government.