The Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) is bringing together healthcare, university and industry to explore how a digital solution can be applied to address one of the biggest threats to global health.  

Antimicrobial resistance is considered one of the top threats to global health by the World Health Organization. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that an average of 290 people die each year in Australia due to infections from just eight resistant bacteria.  

Left unchecked, the effects and cost of antimicrobial resistance will only continue to increase. More people will become unwell for a longer amount of time with infections and complications that become harder to treat.  

The collaboration between DHCRC, WA Country Health Service (WACHS), University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and health technology company Kraken Coding will evaluate an antimicrobial stewardship decision support tool, known as Antimicrobial Pathways (AMPs). 

Following a successful pilot study carried out in 2022, AMPs is set to be implemented across more than 100 sites in Western Australia in late 2023 and is expected to play a crucial role in supporting best practice prescribing within the WA healthcare system.  

Led by researchers from the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) and the School of Public Health at UTS, the project will assess the impact of AMPs on various outcomes, focusing on anti-microbial stewardship and the adoption of this innovative digital tool. 

Associate Professor Serena Yu, from CHERE, said “by measuring the effectiveness and utilisation of AMPs and exploring how prescribers use it in practice, this research project aims to provide insights into the potential benefits of digital decision support systems in improving patient care and optimising prescribing practices.” 

Developed by Kraken Coding, AMPs is an updated version of an open-sourced web-based application, known as the WA Antimicrobial Stewardship decision support tool (WAAMS), first piloted at Geraldton Hospital in 2019. AMPs has been built based on recommendations from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Antimicrobial Stewardship Book and is designed to point clinicians to the specific information they need for optimal prescribing of antimicrobials. Information logged by clinicians is used to continuously refine the tool to identify complications for patients before they occur.  

“The pilot of WAAMS delivered on its intended outcomes by showing an increase in the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing in-line with the Australian Therapeutic Guidelines” said John Shanks, Co-founder of Kraken Coding. 

“We see significant opportunity to now roll out this technology to help improve the quality of antimicrobial prescribing, and reduce unintentional contributions to antibiotic resistance, across the community more broadly.” 

DHCRC CEO Annette Schmiede said the project was unique in its goal to improve antimicrobial stewardship by using a novel digital solution.  

“The DHCRC is committed to looking at how digital and data can help solve some of the most pressing healthcare challenges facing us today,” Ms Schmiede said.  

“The evaluation of the Anti-microbial Pathways tool will contribute significantly to our understanding of the potential impact of digital decision support systems on improving antimicrobial stewardship and ultimately reducing antimicrobial resistance and improving healthcare outcomes.”   

WA Country Health Service Chief Pharmacist Adam Hort said this research project will help in building the evidence-base for how technology can help alleviate one of today’s biggest health challenges.  

“We know inappropriate use of antimicrobials can lead to antimicrobial resistance, toxicity and increased healthcare costs. Patients with antimicrobial-resistant infections are also more likely to experience ineffective treatment, recurrent infection, delayed recovery, or even death,” Mr Hort said.  

“This collaborative initiative aims to reframe how we address this growing challenge by harnessing the power of technology.” 

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