• EpiSoft help staff at the San Hospital deliver better health care. (Supplied)
A eHealth company has introduced ‘revolutionary’ software to improve care and efficiencies in treating complex illnesses which often leaves many patients and medical professionals lost and confused.
Philip Ly

SBS Small Business Secrets
10 Dec 2017 - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2018 - 11:07 AM

One in every two Australians have at least one prominent chronic condition, according to the Department of Health.

It’s a huge problem a department spokesman said results in significant economic burdens.

In 2012-2013, cardiovascular diseases alone cost the Australian government $5 billion.

But a cloud-based patient management eHealth software, EpiSoft, could offer a solution and help medical professionals better treat patients with chronic diseases.

Its co-founders Jenny O’Neill and Michael Hurse developed the software after identifying a gap in the market.

“There was no online platform to provide people with an opportunity to manage their patients and manage their client populations while being able to store and access information needed to make a decision on treatment, drug admission and ways to improve that delivery,” Mr Hurse said.

Ms O’Neill says a major point of difference is it integrates hundreds of interactive treatment plans, which generate automated schedules and drug doses that can be seen and modified by health professionals in one portal, acting as a clinical workflow tool.

“The key problem is there are inefficiencies in communication between different staff caring for patients with chronic diseases,” Ms O’Neill said.

“They need to coordinate care across a big team of health professionals and administrative staff."

“It improves that process and makes the treatment safer by providing standardised guidelines – which can still be modified - and drug dose calculations in a single plan for everyone to follow.”

A major turning point for them was when they got a $250,000 grant from the Federal Government and this year, $1 million in private investment could accelerate global expansion.

But there have been setbacks with a conscious decision to remain a small company proving to be a double-edged sword for growth.

“We have lost business because we’ve been too small,” said Ms O’Neill.

But Mr Hurse added: “A lot of our customers are telling us that it’s pretty hard to turn to Queen Mary, so we’re able to adopt and adapt quickly based on customer need and feedback.”

A huge step forward was starting work with big businesses. EpiSoft is still in relative infancy but is already being used in more than 100 sites nationally and in the US.

One of the major hubs using the software is Sydney Adventist Hospital where the project manager, Fran Vaughan, says there had been a huge need for compared to their paper-based system.

“It was a mess,” she said.

“There was so many pieces of paper coming in… that we really needed to streamline it.”

Since using the program, hospital staff have turned a four-hour task into a 20-minute job.

Nurses Priscilla Lam and Debbie Marcellino say it’s made their job so much easier, which has had a direct benefit for patients.

“It emphasises on evidence-based practices with critical thinking,” Ms Lam said.

Ms Marcellino described it as having “revolutionised” the way doctors, nurses and pharmacists work.

“It’s far more efficient and time-saving, safer and more professional.”

For Ms O’Neill, it’s a reminder of EpiSoft’s greater purpose.

“Everyone of us is touched individually, or within our family, by chronic disease and it’s a growing economic problem for the governments of the world," she says.

Mr Hurse says the business, beyond being his work and livelihood, has become a very important part of his life.

“All of the problems we’re solving are worth solving,” he said.

“We’re helping to make people healthier and these are some of the big questions of our time.

“We want people to stay healthier longer, so how do we do that?”

Want to find out the secret to small business success? Tune into #BizSecretsSBS at Sundays 7am on SBS, stream on SBS On Demand, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.