15
Sep
2016

An Iconic Change for Epic Digital

We’re really excited to announce that Epic Digital will become part of Icon Group from October 1.

Since Stuart and I, along with Emma Croston, brought Epic Digital to life a little over 2 years ago we have worked closely with businesses across the Icon Group to build products which better connect our team, patients and clinicians.

Combining a team of innovative technical experts with operational teams who have innovation in their DNA has proved a potent mix, which has seen us rapidly build and bring to market transformational products that solve real pain point challenges.

Epic Digital came about in a way that illustrates perfectly why it’s important to actively create and work at an innovation mindset, rather than just sit back waiting for an idea to strike.  When my time at APHS Packaging came to an end in 2013, I needed to find something to occupy both the hours and the thinking that had been consumed in the creation and build of that business for the previous seven years.  Stuart suggested that rather than jump straight into something new I took some time to quite literally roam around the world, exploring new things and letting ideas start to flow.  I’m not exactly renowned for my patience, and initially found this to be quite challenging as I tried desperately to force a new business concept to form.

I deliberately spent a lot of time outside of the direct health space, as I wanted to focus on something new rather than something that was already being done by someone else.  I’ve always been a tech geek at heart – APHS Packaging came from a view that effective use of technology could deliver scale, quality and outcomes in a way that people alone never could – so I knew my new focus would likely also incorporate a tech/healthcare combo.

As I went about my research, a few common themes became apparent and built on the learnings that we’d already identified in our other businesses.

  1. As the population ages, consumers not only are more likely to have multiple concurrent chronic diseases, but are also not content to be passive passengers on their healthcare journey.  They want to be actively involved in understanding and managing their own health outcomes.
  2. The healthcare system is data rich, but that data rarely exists in readily accessible or particularly useful formats, either to consumers or to health care practitioners.
  3. The Internet of Things, including sensors and wearables, will fundamentally change the way that patients share and receive information about their health.
  4. Mobile devices will quickly become the most important way of managing health information, just as they have for banking, music and so many other industries.
  5. Expecting the government to design and deliver the necessary solutions is not going to be the answer.

While I was looking at the external environment, Emma had joined us (more about how that happened here) and was working her way through a detailed digital audit initially of our pharmacy businesses.  She had an extensive background in digital strategy and business transformation, but no prior background in health which was fantastic as she didn’t bring any preconceived ideas about what was or wasn’t possible to the table. As we brainstormed our shared learnings, it became clear what the new business was going to be, and like most good ideas it was relatively simple – at least at face value!  We’d build a platform that allowed us to take data from our existing clinical systems, and re-present that in formats that ensured it was easily accessible when and where it was needed.  In addition to that, the platform had to allow us to combine this ‘known data’ with currently ‘unknown data’ – the patient generated data that we could collect by wearable and sensor devices, with the combination allowing us to better understand our patients and help them better manage their health.

What initially seemed relatively simple of course turned out to be far more complex, as we grappled with the problems of extracting data from clinical systems with ancient database structures and the not insignificant issue that Australia actually has no unique patient identifier in existence.   As Emma built the team each of them brought different skill sets that allowed us to not only conquer these challenges, but also expanded our thinking via their knowledge and expertise, ensuring that the products built stretched and extended far beyond the original pain points that the operational teams had requested solutions for.  We have a wonderful team at Epic Digital who truly represent the power and value that diversity delivers.  Not only do we have an excellent gender balance – not the easiest thing to deliver in the tech space – but also fantastic cultural and geographic spread, with nearly every continent of the globe represented.

In our first two years we’ve been able to build our Health Director platform from scratch, and build and release the Medication Manager for Aged Care, Chartflow and Medication Manager for Hospital applications.  The team have already got lots more product under development, and with Icon Group expanding rapidly into Asia we’re excited about working in those markets too.

Joining Icon Group is a great opportunity for Epic Digital, and it’s a fantastic illustration of how the Icon Group Board recognise that leading in the digital innovation sphere is an increasingly important part of being an exceptional healthcare provider. Emma will continue to lead the team, and work closely with me in my new role as Digital Advisor to the Board.  We couldn’t be more excited about working with Icon Group to develop and build products that enhance the ability of each of the different businesses across the group to deliver exceptional cancer care.

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