In summary

  • MChart, a new tool under development by Swinburne University of Technology and University of Canberra researchers, is set to help health care providers navigate the complexities of mental health service planning using data analytics and geospatial mapping.
  • MChart will empower health planners by providing granular insights, scenario exploration and performance tracking.
  • Swinburne is a technology partner on the project, which is being coordinated through the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC).

An exciting collaborative project has achieved a significant milestone in mental health service planning in the ACT, with Swinburne playing a pivotal role as lead technology partner.

The project team have built a prototype of a business intelligence tool, known as MChart, which is designed to support decision-making within complex health systems by delivering key information to health planners. Associate Professor Amir Aryani, Head of Swinburne's Social Data Analytics Lab, says the tool is poised to change mental health service distribution.

"MChart represents a significant leap forward in evidence-informed planning for mental health services," he said.

"By harnessing the power of data analytics and geospatial mapping, we're empowering health planners and managers to make informed decisions that will ultimately enhance patient access, experience and outcomes."

MChart’s role in enhancing decision-making and collaboration

MChart is designed to provide crucial insights into mental health service provision, offering valuable information about services, costs and effectiveness. With its user-friendly interface, MChart will enable health planners to explore various scenarios and visualise the potential impacts of different service interventions. For example, a health planner in Canberra could use MChart to identify areas with high rates of loneliness and assess the availability of related mental health services.

MChart can also facilitate the information needed for benchmarking and performance tracking, allowing health managers to gauge the effectiveness of their services relative to industry standards. Through its comprehensive data analytics capabilities, it will empower stakeholders to navigate the complexities of the mental health system, identify areas for improvement and allocate resources more effectively.

Associate Professor Aryani highlighted the collaborative nature of the project and emphasised the shared vision among partners to drive innovation in mental health service planning.

"This project exemplifies the power of collaboration between academia, industry, and government," he said.

"Together, we're harnessing cutting-edge technology to address critical challenges in mental health care delivery."

Geospatial mapping through MChart prototype.

Making it easier for Australians to access mental health support

The project was conducted through Australia’s Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, with partners including the University of Canberra, Capital Health Network, the ACT Office of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Bupa and Psicost.

Psicost spokesperson, Associate Professor José Alberto Salinas-Pérez, said his team was proud to join the collaboration.

“MChart is a cutting-edge project internationally, and we are happy to contribute and participate in this exciting initiative that will undoubtedly contribute to improving mental health planning in Australia.”

Dr Elizabeth Moore, Coordinator-General of the ACT Government’s Office of Mental Health and Wellbeing, said the project aligned strongly with her Office’s strategic plan, goals and priority areas.

“MChart is relevant to our goals, including understanding the provision of mental healthcare and ongoing support for a better navigation of the care system in our region. The project provides an opportunity to co-design the tool and support new service offerings for people experiencing mental health issues.”

Dr Andre Rodrigues, Healthcare Program Manager, Bupa Asia Pacific, emphasised MChart’s importance for mental health accessibility.

“We want to make it easier for Australians to access mental health support, when and where they need it. Through the Bupa Foundation, we support a range of innovative mental health access and treatment programs. This latest project will help establish digital channels that are purpose-built and user-friendly for those that need mental health support,” Dr Rodrigues said.

“By removing barriers to accessing care, we can help support people and clinical professionals to better navigate the health system – ensuring the right care is delivered at the right time.”

Looking ahead, MChart’s potential extends far beyond its current capabilities. With ongoing development, data updates and enhancements, the tool holds promise for continuously monitoring and improving local mental health systems.

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