An AAPL member since 2014, Grant Rogers discusses his experiences as the first clinical lead to design, standardize and implement eMeds across rural local health districts.
New South Wales is the largest state in Australia, with nearly 8 million residents, including 2 million living in rural and remote areas. So, when Rural eMeds hired Grant Rogers in 2017, he became the first clinical lead to design, standardize and implement eMeds across six previously detached, rural local health districts — while expanding from 18 to 113 sites by the end of this year. This is not his first daunting endeavor; as a general practitioner in New Zealand, he was hired in 2007 as CEO of a hospital in the capital city of Fiji in what he describes as “a true baptism by fire.” But the experience helped prepare him for challenges ahead.
Q How are you able to motivate buyin and implement eMeds on such a massive scale, to fully enable a digitally integrated health system while expanding by nearly 100 sites?
A Consistent interaction with all clinicians, clearly communicating the “why” behind decisions and standardizing the eMeds build make it possible. Focusing on commonalities across six local health districts (LHDs) we built an eMeds system that caters to all sizes of sites within our LHD cohort. Everyone wants increased functionality; we now need to inspire more sites to be ready for eMeds.
Q Listening is a big part of communication for leaders. How has feedback from your staff of 20,000 influenced this initiative?
A During the eMeds build phase, our Rural eMeds project team constantly sought feedback from their clinicians, especially when teams were struggling to reach a consensus. We incorporated that feedback into the build where we could.
Q What is the secret to overcoming time and distance to provide medical service to 1.3 million people in rural areas across 250,000 square miles — or a population density of just 5.2 people a square mile?
A No secret. Just hard work and superb local LHD teams providing contact time with their clinicians. My role is to deliver a common vision and involve clinicians in the eMeds build. In turn, this increases clinician buy-in and improves adoption of such a large change to daily workflows.
Q How necessary and difficult is it to build technical infrastructure that supports “the biggest project of its kind in Australia”?
A Vital … eHealth NSW undertakes many streams of work to improve the rural health IT landscape, including substantial improvements in performance, reliability and disaster recovery for EMR domains across NSW, as well as migration of critical applications to a centralized data center.
Q Given your experience, accomplishments and stature in Australia’s healthcare community, what motivates your current pursuit of AAPL’s Certified Physician Executive credential?
A I’ve been enthralled with the quality of training and professionalism of the college’s members since being introduced to AAPL five years ago. Many supportive college staff and colleagues inspire me to raise my game and believe the “impossible is possible.” I hope I will have an opportunity to return their belief in me and help lead healthcare in the United States to a more sustainable, equitable system for all.