A Beautiful Mind

A great story in yesterdays Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au

Matt Darling is a man who was faced with a terrible loss and made good of it

Matt Darling remembers being in a buoyant mood when he got home from work on that warm Canberra evening. He scooped up his 15-month-old daughter, Jem, then noticed something slightly different about her appearance: “Her smile wasn’t as symmetrical as normal.”

Puzzled, he consulted his wife, Beth, who mentioned that the toddler had thrown up some of her lunch. Darling’s concern grew when the family sat down to dinner. “Again Jem was gagging on her food,” he recalls. “It appeared to me she was having difficulty swallowing. So while Beth was looking after Peri, our older daughter, I took Jem down to one of the bedrooms and gave her a milkshake and just started to look up symptoms on the internet.”

As a new parent who loves nothing more than the smile on my daughters face when I get home from work I can only imagine the awful feeling of seeing something that ‘off’ with your daughter.

In the emergency department, the paediatrician who examined Jem saw no reason for immediate action. According to Darling, who was then a senior analyst in the federal department of finance, advising on government investment in information technology, “He basically said, ‘Look, go away for a couple of weeks and see if the symptoms get worse.’ ”Darling politely pressed for an MRI scan and the test was carried out two days later. The same doctor delivered the results. “He said, ‘Yes, there is a mass there.’ ”And so it began.

So by this point in the story I was literally in tears telling my wife she has to read this story after me. I recommend you read the whole story, it is pretty long, you can find it here

Darling’s observations in the ward and subsequent research into the overstretched health system had led him to a surprising conclusion. “The problem was not ‘too many patients and too few nurses’, but too much repetitive administration for nurses, who are generally highly qualified people,” he says. “We found that 65 per cent of a nurse’s time was spent on records, administration and the like, and 35 per cent on patient interaction and care. Which is an astonishing statistic when you think about it.”

He set about designing a system that would streamline the record-keeping. Instead of writing notes, nurses would enter information on bedside computers, which would be fast and intuitive to use. To speed things up further, they would wear sensor tags that allowed the computers to recognise them when they approached, and display the page they were most likely to need.

As I said, a truly excellent story, I challenge you to read it without a tear rolling down your cheek

The days when he worked alone in his backyard shed are long over. Thanks to contributions from supporters and friends, the injection of his and Beth’s own funds, and more than $2 million in grants from Commercialisation Australia (a federal government program that helps inventors and entrepreneurs turn good ideas into businesses), his company now has about a dozen employees and a proper office on the outskirts of Canberra. It is still a lean operation and Darling rarely takes time off – he worked last Christmas Day – but he doesn’t begrudge a minute that is spent on it. He is doing this for his daughter, he says. “She only lived to 19 months, but she will have a legacy.”

A beautiful mind indeed, well done Matt Darling

You can find out more about Matt’s work at www.smartward.com.au

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/heart-and-mind-20130603-2nkn0.html#ixzz2Vfpx3Ocg


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