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Women Leading Innovation in Health

Jackie Plunkett is the Director of Health Innovation and Telehealth with Loddon Mallee Rural Health Alliance. Through this role she represents many health services around the region, including Bendigo Health, an industry partner of Bendigo Tech School.

Jackie’s recent health innovations have resulted in 250 patients per month having access to geriatric services and other services through video links. Five years ago, these high demand health services did not exist.

“As a child, I was a nerdy kid,” says Jackie. “I wanted to be an accountant, and I wanted to be a computer operator. I did work experience with an operation centre working with a huge mainframe system, and I loved it.”

Her career has allowed her to follow her passions for finance and tech. This year winning the Cisco Women in IT Awards ‘Outstanding ICT Technical Innovation Award’, recognising women who have achieved success through their leadership, innovation and commitment to the technology industry.

Jackie describes the health industry as solving problems in a controlled way. “I was introduced to co-design at a health and pharmaceuticals workshop at the Bendigo Tech School. This way of innovating can bring together people of all ages, gender and expertise to understand and respond to a problem in a way I haven’t encountered before.”

Two of Jackie’s five children also attended this co-design workshop. Jackie was excited by the way Bendigo Tech School brings together professionals and young people to solve problems. “We need something different to innovate. Ideas from young people create a different perspective. Industries need diverse perspectives to solve the problems we face.”

Her latest body of work is leading innovative solutions to keep older people independent, as well as mentally and physically healthy. She invited nurses, IT and finance professionals to the Tech School to co-design solutions.

“We came up with six ideas, and we decided to focus on a virtual reality solution to enable older people to overcome mobility and cognitive barriers to stay socially active in a safe and fun way,” she says.

“The beauty of tapping into the Bendigo Tech School’s Design Thinking model allows you to come up with solutions you can’t do in a traditional work environment. It’s an incredibly valuable resource.”

First Published in the Bendigo Weekly

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