Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy
Vice President of Research, Innovation and Discovery, and Chief Nursing Executive, Nova Scotia Health
As part of its business commitment to uncover the very best evidence when it comes to exceptional healthcare services, Nova Scotia Health, a provincial health authority located on the east coast of Canada, is working alongside other institutions to improve its service and broaden its reach.
Take its collaboration with EY Canada, for example. Part of a global network of approximately 300,000 people around the world, EY Canada provides consulting, audit, tax and transaction services from its offices across the country.
“We are working collaboratively with Nova Scotia Health to deliver an ambitious transformation agenda in Canada,” says Steven Maynard, EY Canada Government & Public Sector Consulting Leader.
In Canada, individual provinces including Nova Scotia administer healthcare in alignment with the Canadian Health Act under a single-payer, publicly-funded system.
“We have the benefit of administering the entire spectrum and that really comes into play when we start looking at how we plan services and deliver care, to meet the needs of the population,” says Matthew Murphy, Senior Director, Strategy and Performance and Chief Data Officer at Nova Scotia Health. “We use analytics to support that delivery of care because it gives us access to information across the entire patient journey.”
EY has been working alongside Nova Scotia Health to help with various aspects of its transformation journey, ranging from technology deployment to data analytics, robotic process automation, programme management, change management and human transformation.
“We've been working with Nova Scotia Health over the last couple of years and continue to support their transformation as a leading healthcare organisation in Canada,” Maynard says. “Seeing the impact this work has had on both patients and clinicians across the province has been incredibly rewarding.
Digital transformation in public healthcare
The digital transformation of Nova Scotia Health traces back 20 years but has significantly picked up pace in the past year or two as a result of the pandemic.
“A year ago, there was a growing number of people in Nova Scotia who did not have a primary care provider,” says Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Discovery, and Chief Nurse Executive at Nova Scotia Health.
“We were asked to come up with an innovative solution to link unattached Nova Scotians with access to care. So we launched VirtualCareNS.”
Through this initiative, Nova Scotia residents registered to get the timely primary care they needed – from consultation to prescription renewals – through a digital platform accessed on their computer or smartphone. But implementing innovation and rapidly onboarding new patients required analytics to effectively understand and predict the incoming workload.
“It was really important to understand when, how many and what type of patient was going to need and utilise the service,” says Murphy. “Only then could we develop a human resource strategy available to meet the need efficiently and sustainably.”
Improvement and enhancement during the pandemic
Working with EY Canada, Nova Scotia Health has been able to capitalise on its previously unavailable or under-utilised data assets, including those regarding its human capital.
“The last two years have been really difficult in healthcare with respect to the workforce. Understanding where we have potential gaps is essential to ensuring we have a sustainable system into the future,” says Murphy. “That was a significant shift for us from an innovation perspective – to realise or address how we can keep providing services when the traditional mechanism of service delivery has been disrupted.”
“The pandemic and the stresses it placed on healthcare organisations around the world created a massive capacity crunch, yet the business of healthcare had to go on,” says Maynard. “Robotics process automation was a really useful tool that helped deliver the business of healthcare and maintain core operations while many of the staff had been redirected to emergency operations.”
Teaming with EY, Nova Scotia Health implemented an intelligent automation solution that leveraged machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to quickly learn and adapt to the environment in order to support this key component of the business.
“It's not about using technology to eliminate positions,” Murphy explains. “New technologies are allowing our workforce to do what they do best, practising the art and science of healthcare.”
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That was actually a really significant shift for us from an innovation perspective to realise or address how we can keep providing services when the traditional mechanism of service delivery has been disrupted.