Addressing emerging technologies and how these apply to the field of occupational medicine and the work health and safety of doctors and healthcare workers in hospitals, will be a key focus of the work of Dr Honor Magon CHIA, who was recently awarded a Fulbright Future Scholarship to Stanford University in the US, funded by The Kinghorn Foundation.

Honor, who specialises in occupational medicine, has been practicing as a doctor for four years and like many others in digital health her career pathway wasn’t intentional, but was a response to wanting to make greater change.

I knew that I wanted to see bigger change beyond one-to-one patient interaction. I really love seeing patients and I like being able to work with the patient towards a common goal, but I knew that there were just so many things that I saw within our system that I wanted to fix on a grander scale. That’s how I’ve landed in digital health.

Wanting to extend on her knowledge and learning she applied for the Master of Science in Clinical Informatics Management at Stanford University and for the Fulbright scholarship.

The core questions Honor hopes to address during her studies relate to the EHR burden in hospitals and how that might be a psychosocial hazard that contributes toward physician and healthcare worker wellbeing.

I think it is particularly pertinent post COVID where we have been through two years of being more aware of health care worker burnout.

We can throw resilience training and all these other things at it, but ultimately, we need to look at our structures. Within occupational medicine we use what’s called the hierarchy of controls we have a hazard which might be, for example, stress from excess documentation demands. Can we, manage that risk by putting in administrative controls around our documentation?

The next question is how do we get the right care to healthcare workers? How can we use our emerging technologies to provide them with more timely, accessible, personalised care?

The third goal is to explore more about governance structures within hospitals. To help our hospitals and health care services to explore why we’re not really putting in preventative health strategies to protect the wellbeing of our health care workers and to look specifically at digital health solutions.

There are many layers of governance around it, but is anyone looking at the design behind our systems that we use on a day-to-day basis and how that might potentially be a hazard to our employees?”

Honor will head off in June to commence her course at Stanford and will continue doing her research and clinical work. “I look at hazard control, injury management and how we help people to be safe at work. My area of interest is in the emerging area of healthcare technologies as a vehicle to facilitate wellbeing and safety at work.

She has started networking and making connections with the digital health community in the US and is keen to learn more about the American health care system.

I’m excited to be a part of their research will be interesting, but I really want to understand more in terms of the American health care system, such as, how they’re able to move innovation through quickly, how they currently take care of their physicians, the role of digital health in wellbeing. I want to see how do we bring elements of it back to Australia?

My interest is in how we bring physician wellbeing to the forefront and how do we implement it. How do we make sure that it works smoothly with the work processes that we need, and how do we measure its value?

My emphasis will be on cognitive ergonomics and design usability, which I hope to bring back to Australia as a resource.

Honor has been a CHIA since 2020 and often refers to her learnings from participating in the course and to provide a framework to develop competency in digital health. “It was a valuable course for me. And is even more valuable and relevant for me now that I am further into my career. It gives additional context to the work I do.

Honor’s first few years of medical practice were at various hospitals, and it was the support of mentors and colleagues at Metro South that introduced her to the Creative Careers In Medicine network which ultimately influenced her to move into digital health.

A position at her home hospital at Metro South in Brisbane was created, and she became the first junior doctor working in digital health.  “I do translatory work to try and understand what we are missing from our junior doctor cohort. How can we translate technological changes to the front line and how we can we codesign further initiatives with our junior doctors?

So far Honor said that her move into digital health has enabled her to achieve more than she could have as a junior within the system. “It has allowed me to understand the huge amount of clinical governance that’s interrelated with digital health and how important that is in implementation of any technology within such a diverse and complicated ecosphere.

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