COVID-19: Many inventions are born out of a desire to solve a problem

Man with glasses
Craig Burke

After more than 20 years as a nurse, Craig Burke could see there was a better way of managing the flow of patients through the hospital system.

“It was clear to me that decisions about what should happen with a patient were subjective and based on differing people’s opinions of what was going on, rather than being based on objective data,” said Mr Burke.

Now as the CEO of Patienteer, Mr Burke has put his experiences in nursing, process and project management to good use in the development of real-time analytics software, which helps guide the patient journey.

This puts him front and centre in the COVID-19 crisis in the United Kingdom, working 60-hour weeks to assist.

“Our recently built COVID-19 module identifies patients deteriorating and alerts clinicians to take action. The list also identifies and reduces delays in the swab testing process, so it can be optimised and results returned quickly.”

Business tips

From a business perspective, when the crisis hit Mr Burke says he and his team were ready, for these reasons:

· “We are lean, it helps limit the risk.”

· “We never recruit too many people, we focus on the process first, then recruit only the amount of people we need (and good people) to deliver that process.”

· “We outsource. We have only three permanently paid employees, the rest are contractors or contracting companies that behave like employees. Their commitment to us is astonishing.”

· “Our strategy of not renting an office has paid off. We always request that our client sites provide office space for us to work, and set our teams up to be able to comfortably work from home. This alone has saved us money, but also the overheads – because if we had no further work, we would not have to continually pay for the office space.”

All of this allowed Patienteer to build things quickly to support the Covid-19 effort and they are now being paid for this module.

Psychological impact

While COVID-19 has created fear and a feeling of shut down among Mr Burke’s family and friends, his advice is to try and not get too caught up in the hype of the condition and try to balance the information with some other not so frightening facts, otherwise it will do greater harm to your mental health.

“In Australia Flu causes more deaths per year, every year - still.”

“As we work in health and data-analytics we know the statistics and the odds; so we all decided to keep working. I still turn up to one of our client hospitals every day. All the doctors and nurses I work with in the command centre have a feeling of comradery, feeling of we are at war. In one of our worst hit hospitals 75% of patients in this client hospital are positive C-19.”

On the flipside, he adds: “We’ve had over 160 deaths in this hospital as of today. Many patients in ICU are under the age of 50”. “Though many of the hospital staff have had Covid-19, none have become critically ill or died.”

“This all takes a toll on the mental health of the clinicians, but their spirits are high.”

Advice

Mr Burke’s advice is to stay two meters away from each other, wash your hands regularly and try not to put your hands near your mouth or eyes. This will not only help prevent the spread of Covid-19 but also help prevent transmission of other common respiratory diseases coming into winter.

Mr Burke did a Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University, graduating in 1998.

Read more inspiring stories from Southern Cross University alumni who are doing their bit to help the entire community through the COVID-19 crisis.

Alumni in action