Who is our 2017 bright spark?

I feel at times there is a gap between the amazing projects people are doing at their place of work and identification with the word innovation. People are sometimes not confident that what they are doing is actually innovative. Over the years, I have met so many wonderful therapists, and I can tell you, there are so many creative, driven, amazing, innovative therapists within allied health. You definitely do not have to invent things to be innovative!

In allied health, the implementation of new ideas, and creating dynamic service delivery for enhancing existing services, improves the ability and likelihood of a service or practice succeeding. Whether you are in private practice or a publicly funded service, innovation can help grow and develop hand therapy nationally by improving the way clinics are run, improving the way we achieve outcomes for clients, improving the way we staff our centres and develop positive workplace culture. Innovation can lead to greater education and knowledge for all therapists, regardless of location and access to supervisors.

Innovation in allied health can also mean changing your model of how you deliver care to clients, or adapting to changes that happen in the environment around you to deliver a better product or service. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of innovation, the underlying driver of innovation is creative problem-solving. Fostering this creativity in your workplace can have a direct positive impact on productivity and performance. Sharing, then, of these creative ideas further enhances the development of allied health roles and services nationally, which is something I am very excited about. 

In 2014, I launched The Amy Geach Hand Therapy Innovation Award to recognise, showcase and share successful innovation in hand therapy that improves products and/or services. Entrant’s innovative ideas could be a number of things: a new product, a new way of measuring success, new education to consumers, or professionals, a new way to deliver a service, new technology and so on. The term 'Innovation' in this award refers to an idea or project that has changed the way hand therapy is delivered, and/or how it can be marketed. I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the Australian Hand Therapy Association for their support of this award.

This year, our independent judging panel included, along with an AHTA representative, our invited judges:

Rob Khamas

Rob Khamas is an eHealth consultant and CEO of Rendtech, an eHealth consulting company that helps clinical businesses and health organisations establish sustainable and scalable IT solutions that are able to host and deliver on the business needs from both an IT and eHealth point of view.

Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist, nutrition feature writer for Her Canberra, nutrition spokesperson for Cenovis and the Heart Research Institute and Managing Director at The Healthy Eating Hub, Canberra's largest nutrition and dietetics practice. Kate is a key influencer in her industry with ongoing writing and speaking public engagements on nutrition, exercise and food topics. Kate is passionate about practical solutions and advice for best, sustainable clinical outcomes.

Our award entries this year are quite different in their innovation, and how it contributes to the future of hand therapy in Australia. 

Our first finalist has identified an opportunity for cross-discipline hand therapy intervention for enhanced patient outcomes through clinical reasoning and graded therapy programs, and our second finalist has established an industry first holistic approach to practical upper limb education and training for occupational therapists and physiotherapists through a suite of face to face and online training and education services.

Let’s take a look at the finalists:

It gives me great pleasure to reveal the judges' decision, and congratulate the recipient of The Amy Geach Hand Therapy Innovation Award for 2017:

3D printed hand prosthesis project

Leadership, Innovation

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