Day one of Showcase 2021 draws to a close

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

There was a lot of to-and-fro – will we or won’t we - but by the skin of our teeth CEQ officially kicked off Clinical Excellence Showcase 2021 today.

It seems nothing can get in the way of clinicians and innovation, with Brisbane’s Powerhouse reaching its full 75 per cent COVIDSafe capacity, and hundreds more dialling in online.

Showcase has always been about “the punters” – the healthcare staff at the forefront wanting to do things better and to learn the tools of the innovation trade. And Showcase 2021 is no different, providing virtual options for those who can’t travel or spend much time away from work, making it easier than ever to learn about the latest and greatest health projects from across Queensland.

First-up and in true Showcase style was the Welcome to Country, which this year was delivered by Yuggera Nation and included a smoking ceremony and didgeridoo player.

Then, while delegates were meant to hear from our outgoing Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, due to a scheduling issue Professor Keith McNeil happily stepped in as our keynote speaker for the morning plenary session. Keith gave us an overview of the COVID pandemic to date including figures, potential treatments, and the vaccines.

Throughout the day delegates were able to choose an agenda based on what interested them with a range of concurrent sessions on offer; all based around our main theme of maintaining healthcare during the pandemic:

Maintaining safe and high-quality care, systems and services during COVID-19

In the Powerhouse Theatre this session had a range of presentations demonstrating how services were maintained or expanded during COVID-19.

From the South West, delegates heard about the confronting situation of low food security in the region which has been compounded by the pandemic. The South West HHS has worked very hard they have worked with the community to improve food and health literacy and connect community members to food sources.

Other highlights included the Ehealth MaskHelper tool – helping to reduce PPE wastage due to fit testing requirements, and the Aminoglycoside Desktop App which left delegates excited to use it to correctly prescribe high-risk antibiotics.

The session was followed by a special Advance Care Planning workshop delivered by Prof Elizabeth Reymond from Metro South Health. Liz discussed the barriers and enablers to advance care planning in Queensland, particularly in light of COVID-19.

You can find out more about this session over on our website. All presentations will be released as episodes in the next Clinical Excellence Showcase podcast series.

Care on or closer to Country

Due to technical difficulties one of the pre-recorded presentations for this session wasn’t played, but the passion and commitment to First Nations communities was clearly evident, including Gold Coast Health’s Waijungbah Jarjums midwifery and child health continuity of career model. Delegates also praised the Sit, Talk and Yarn (STaY) suicide prevention initiative in Cherbourg which has made massive gains despite limited funding.

You can find out more about this session over on our website. All presentations will be released as episodes in the next Clinical Excellence Showcase podcast series.

Research and innovation despite the pandemic

Dr Paul Lane and Mr Vikrant Kalke’s presentation on using artificial intelligence to process data in the ieMR in order to detect sepsis faster resulted in the program identifying a patient at risk of sepsis 48 hours before the Sepsis 3 threshold was met at an accuracy of 94 per cent resulting an inaudible gasp from the audience! The machine, known as Katherine after NASA Scientist Katherine Johnson, narrowed down key symptoms that had “the most gain” which interestingly included heart rate – but not temperature. Something which Paul Lane, as an Intensivist, called “mind-boggling.” The key outcomes according to Paul and Vik were the implications of the technology on identifying the deteriorating patient and other time-sensitive conditions.

Following the sepsis team, Lani Lawson from Gold Coast Health kickstarted her presentation with a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine on the ukulele which had the whole crowd singing along! The Gold Coast mental health team introduced ukulele lessons during COVID-19 with executive function, emotional expression and social engagement measured across a four-month period. Despite most (78 per cent) not having any prior experience in learning a musical instrument, positive self-remarks were observed in about 90 per cent of lessons and strongly expressed (positive) emotions were observed in around 64 per cent of lessons. The team found ukulele lessons provided a rich expressive social environment which was beneficial for the acute mental health unit setting.

The ukulele program has now been expanded to eight units across Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital.  

Seeing out the session was Dr Ides Wong who shared how Queensland has harnessed the chaos of COVID-19 to advance research and innovation. Ides reiterated that the pandemic actually created a landscape to generate research and innovation; quoting T.S. Eliot who said “anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.” She touched on her work in anticipating long-term hospital utilisation of patients who have had COVID in order to prepare the system for future demands, and the COVID Barometer (now known as Health Barometer). The Barometer uses a range of data inputs (transport, expenditure habits etc) which acts as a temperature gauge for the community.

You can find out more about this session over on our website. All presentations will be released as episodes in the next Clinical Excellence Showcase podcast series.

Keeping staff well as COVID changes our work and home lives

Staff wellbeing has been a huge focus in recent years but particularly in light of the additional demands and strain of the pandemic. This session included Greg Connolly from Mater Health Services who discussed how they used the safety and accuracy of simulation to identify risks of COVID-19 transmission amongst staff and clients of their home visiting services. As most COVID procedures were developed for in-hospital staff, this process ensured both staff and clients were kept safe and opportunities to identify a potential case were optimised.

Also in this session, ‘Keeping you strong’ from Darling Downs Health. Carey Crimmins described how a multi-model staff wellbeing support system had been developed to build resilience amongst the workforce and keeping people healthy and strong.

You can find out more about this session over on our website. All presentations will be released as episodes in the next Clinical Excellence Showcase podcast series.

Delegates had the opportunity to vote for their favourite presentation in each session, with the following so far proving to be the most popular:

  • Waijungbah Jarjums, Gold Coast Health
  • Ehealth MaskHelper Tool, Townsville Hospital and Health Service
  • Staff Ambassador Program, Metro North Hospital and Health Service
  • Sepsis Algorithm, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and CEQ

To see out Day One and again in-line with our theme, the UQ Vaccination Team sat down for a fireside chat. We heard about their difficult decision to abandon their first COVID-19 vaccine as well as what was next for Queensland’s golden-children of vaccines! Read this news article for the full rundown.

Day two will take it up a notch, with Olympian Dane Bird-Smith talking about his struggles with mental health, “15 minutes” with Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’ath and Chair of the Statewide Clinical Senate Dr Alex Markwell will discuss how clinicians have remained connected throughout the COVID pandemic.

If you’re unable to attend or dial in, don’t worry – all of this year’s presentations will be released as episodes in our next instalment of the Clinical Excellence Showcase podcast series. To keep up to date with all the action follow us on Facebook @ClinicalExcellenceQueensland. For more information and to relive all the glory of our past Showcases, please visit  



UQ Vaccination Team fireside chat inspires audience

To see out Day One of Clinical Excellence Showcase 2021 the UQ Vaccination Team sat down for a fireside chat. We heard about their difficult decision to abandon their first COVID-19 vaccine as well as what was next for Queensland’s golden-children of vaccines! Here’s a summary of what was discussed:

Prior to COVID-19, the team had actually started work on developing an influenza vaccine and work was underway globally to improve vaccine development and pandemic responsiveness, which placed the world in a better position to respond to COVID. Plus, the West African Ebola outbreak had been at the forefront of their mind, so the team were already putting the pieces of the puzzle together to expedite vaccine development into clinical trials.

Their molecular clamp technology holds the three components of spike protein together and had been shown to work with Ebola and influenza and was being investigated for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome or MERS.

So, did SARS-CoV-2 leak from a lab? According to the team – maybe, but probably not. SARS-CoV-2 has a very different genome sequence to previously known viruses. However this common question does raise the importance of laboratory safety.

The biggest surprise for the team? The positive response from the community when they had to drop out of the vaccine race. Assuming they had “let everybody down” the team was surprised to see the strong amount of support around them.

Their passion to help people was a key driver in getting through the tough times of 2020, which is why the anti-vax movement can be personally upsetting for the team as they know scientists around the world area working really hard to help save lives. This comment drew an applause from the audience.

They also paid homage to the huge team behind them from logistics, scientists, communications and media, legal teams etc described by them as a “phenomenal effort”.

Early data showed the UQ vaccine was “up there with the best”. So, why didn’t it go forward? Two small bits of the HIV protein were used in the vaccine’s development which they assumed would remain silent. But in some tests a positive reactive signal to HIV was detected. The fact that other vaccines candidates were producing good results and the public perception of HIV being somehow linked to the vaccine, the team abandoned the vaccine.

So will we see a UQ vaccine? The team continue to test their molecular clamp technology and hope to still be a part of the vaccination process globally, particularly for countries that have not received any vaccines. Just over two per cent of the developing world have been vaccinated, raising questions around virus mutations and a lack of global effort to deliver an equitable rollout.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been using new(ish) technology such as mRNA science, but what’s happening in the space of vaccine rollout? Oral and nasal delivery options and “nano-patches” have been under investigation for some time and the upside of COVID is that it has allowed for these researchers to come forward and test their ideas more broadly.

CEQ would like to thank the UQ team for taking the time to join us for Showcase 2021. We’re all very proud of your work and wish you all the best in your pursuits!

Last updated: 6 October 2021