As the Government reviews its national digital health strategy and priorities, we look at the opportunities and challenges that Australia has in moving ahead with healthcare system reform and change.
Many health providers are looking to better platform their services, while consumers are continually looking for better options to access services and care. Trends show an ever-growing number of options for personalisation through consumer tech and interconnected devices, as individual health and wellness merge. The challenge for healthcare is how to take advantage of this wave of digital innovation while providing the data privacy and security necessary to help protect against data theft or loss.
A webinar was held recently which explored the question of how to leverage these trends in the market to provide create greater efficiencies, build a better experience for consumers, and make it easier (and not harder) for practitioners to deliver care? The session asked how can we maintain the momentum that has been highlighted through the pandemic, or are there other ways to approach reform and change to leapfrog ahead?
Steven Lazer, Global Healthcare and Life Science CTO Dell Technologies, provided industry perspectives on the trends in connected care and digital transformation of healthcare. He said understanding the drivers around patient and consumer outcomes, clinical effectiveness, and clinical efficiencies we are seeing that there is so much more that we can all do from a technical capability perspective with advancements in AI, virtual care, data analytics, and more. “There is a wonderful opportunity to take this opportunity coming out of the pandemic to leverage what we have and drive towards a connected care system and ensure that we continue forward and not slip backwards”. Steven said: “We can take these capabilities and drive the system to be much more efficient than where we are today.”
Steven Lazer Global Healthcare and Life Science CTO Dell Technologies provided industry perspectives on the trends in connected care and digital transformation of healthcare. Understanding the drivers around patient and consumer outcomes, clinical effectiveness, and clinical efficiencies we are seeing that there is so much more that we can all do from a technical capability perspective with advancements in AI, virtual care, data analytics, and more. There is a wonderful opportunity to take this opportunity coming out of the pandemic to leverage what we have and drive towards a connected care system and ensure that we continue forward and not slip backwards. Steven stated, “we can take these capabilities and drive the system to be much more efficient than where we are today.”
The webinar panel consensus was that we have seen a greater rate of change in digitising healthcare over the pandemic period than normal. In some instances, we have seen 3-5 years change within 6–9-month period. While there have been pockets of innovation and advancement, we still deal with the challenges of a siloed and fragmented system. This period has highlighted the important role digital will play in the future of healthcare. It has highlighted the importance of a burning platform in bringing people together and to rally the troops to address a common cause – in this instance, responding to COVID-19. Tina Hardin, Executive Director, Clinical Informatics, Commission of Excellence and Innovation in Healthcare (CEIH), South Australia, stressed the importance of culture and behavioural change for health organisations to continue the momentum and potentially leapfrog barriers to change. Tina said: “We need the frameworks to facilitate the culture and process of change, along with data driven innovations that produce value to actionable insights and clinical decision making.”
George Morris, Global Healthcare CIO, Dell Technologies highlighted an observable trend towards an increasing focus on ‘resilient systems’ as a direct result of the pandemic. Resilient systems provide the ability for health organisations to prepare for, manage, and learn from shocks to the system and drastic change as we have just experienced with COVID-19. These systems are not punitive in nature, which is inherent in health and the management of risk, but provide a model for feedback, lessons learnt, and continuous improvement. These are quite common in other business sectors such as aviation. George commented: “If we work with these approaches of enabling resilient systems to support the business of healthcare, matched with the powerful capabilities being introduced through artificial intelligence and smart automation we have the potential to make a significant step forward.”
We do have the ability to create and implement incentives to support change, but overwhelmingly the consensus of the panel in this discussion was the need to continue to engage the clinical workforce, involve them in the process of co-design on how we can improve the system for them and their patients, and take them on the journey of digital change for their working environment. We know from our collective experiences how important this is. We need to bring them on a patient journey enabling change which through that process identifies value. For change to be successful, it needs to be driven from all directions not just a top-down edict. (e.g., change from top-down, bottom-up, and from the side). Berne Gibbons, Head of Business Innovations and Partnerships, Infomedix, reminded us that “to encourage and incentivise change we need to continue to engage the clinicians. We need to be talking their language more, through co-design, and identify the value, and what is in it for me. We have all heard this before, but it remains a critical factor for success.”
In addressing the question of can we leapfrog change if we get the incentives right the answer was mixed from the panel. The discussion was quite expansive covering a range of views on system change, but there was general agreement that we need to do more than just implementing incentives, financial or otherwise, to change. Digital transformation of healthcare will see new types of services and models of care which we may not be aware of or imagine yet. It requires a cultural shift and the requirement of bringing the health workforce on the journey of enabling improved patient and consumer outcomes. Data driven innovation that provides value for actionable insights for all those in system including clinicians, patients, and consumers is an important element of change. The pandemic over the last two years has seen how quickly we can change in a crisis but has also highlighted where the gaps are. George Morris, Healthcare CIO, Dell Technologies left us with, “it is important we do not lose momentum. The importance of digital in healthcare has been highlighted in the pandemic response. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. We have the capabilities and emerging environment now to bring things together to make a difference.”
The webinar was hosted by the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH) and facilitated by AIDH Fellow A/Prof Paul Cooper, from Deakin University. We acknowledge and thank the sponsorship of Dell Technologies and their participation and industry insights. A copy of the webinar can be found on the member Digital Health TV channel at the AIDH or by contacting Dell Technologies.