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How employees are driving disruption at NSW Ambulance

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Internal digital transformation is most effective when led by employees, believes New South Wales Ambulance Operational Digital Engagement Strategy (ODES) Lead Ryan Lovett.

For Lovett, “solutions made by staff, for staff” to improve processes tend to “just work”, and will often spread organically through the organisation because they are genuinely useful.

He refers to a dispatch navigation solution developed by his team in-house as an example of staff-driven digital transformation.

NSW Ambulance dispatch information is broadcast by way of a private data network managed by the Telco Authority, and is delivered to staff through a decade old mobile terminal system. While this system is currently being upgraded, for the past several years the dispatch system did not have a navigational function, meaning that paramedics had to enter the address of each incident manually into a GPS navigator. Lovett said this process ‘added seconds to minutes’ to average ambulance response times.

Around seven years ago, the agency approached the market for a supplier to integrate GPS into the system, only to be told by a number of integrators it was not possible. This prompted the ODES team to build a solution in-house.

Once ODES had access to the live feed of data from the computer aided dispatch system, the new navigation solution was developed quickly by leveraging existing mainstream Apple and Google navigation technology.

By sending paramedics dispatch details via SMS, including a link to the location using either Apple or Google Maps, the solution saves time and provides paramedics with access to traffic density and road closure information available through the map applications. Through word of mouth, Lovett said ODES’s navigational app was quickly adopted across the organisation.

Taking only four days and costing the agency “nothing in tangible capital costs,” the success of the solution (albeit mostly anecdotal) affirms the notion that an agile, incremental approach to digital transformation can be effective.

According to Lovett, digital transformation is most successful when driven by staff, and supported by leadership – “ideas morphed into reality because those individuals who advocated for them had a voice.”

It also helps having the right conditions for innovation, says Lovett. A multi-disciplinary team trained in problem-solving, like the NSW Ambulance workforce, is ideal.

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