From the first CT scanner of its kind in Australia to a new software program that enables mobile access to scans for bedside diagnosis, Gold Coast patients are benefiting from cutting-edge innovation.
Gold Coast University Hospital, in the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, has become the first Australian location for the Phillips iQon CT2 scanner – a $1.5million piece of high-tech equipment that is expected to scan up to 500 patients a month and make diagnosis of cancer faster and easier.
The state-of-the-art scanner detects two individual x-ray energies separately, at the same time.
Gold Coast Health Deputy Medical Director of Diagnostic Services Associate Professor Leanne Du welcomes the the iQon CT scanner’s technology, which gives clinicians the data to better manipulate scanned images on the fly.
“It makes the investigation and diagnosis of cancer and other pathology faster and easier, including the detection of subtle lesions,” A/Prof Du says.
“For example, when searching for vascular blockages in the chest, a clinician can map iodine distribution and subtract it from one image to compare it to the other.
“It also bridges the gap in soft-tissue scanning between MRI and CT scans as the iQon can better characterise tissue or bones to differentiate tissue composition i.e. finding out the composition of kidney stones.”
Radiology Medical Director Dr John Richards says the iQonCT scanner is another way of ‘future-proofing’ the health service.
“We carried out extensive research to find a machine that was the best-fit for our patients and it truly is a great achievement to be able to bring this state-of-the-art equipment to the Gold Coast,” Dr Richards says.
While expensive equipment keeps the health service ahead of the game, innovative ideas to enhance processes and patient comfort are delivering constant improvement.
New Gold Coast Health developed software enables doctors to diagnose at the bedside, accessing patient medical records and scans remotely rather than having to use a number of programs at a desktop, saving walks across wards and potentially thousands of hours per year.
As part of the annual Improvers program, staff are the source of good ideas small and large – this year saw 224 project proposals submitted and 13 finalists.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles joined the judging panel.
“While it’s important to gather inspiration from across the world, The Improvers is a reminder that some of the best ideas are home-grown right here in Queensland,” Mr Miles says.
“From new ways of recycling medical equipment to creating state-of-the-art rehabilitation spaces, each of the submissions is another step towards delivering better care to the community we serve.”
Top category prize money was awarded to an electronic blood fridge management system which helps reduce blood wastage.
Other smart technology ideas include a CT/MRI simulator to help prepare children who need to have scans, VR head-sets for palliative care patients so they can virtually experience bucket list adventures, and mobile device charging stations in high-traffic public areas.
And low-tech ideas can be equally innovative – with a people’s choice award going to a project to create a sensory garden for babies and mothers in the state’s only publicly funded perinatal inpatient unit.
Since 2014, more than $1.5 million has been awarded to bring staff’s innovative ideas to life.