Dave Lennon, executive sponsor, healthcare industry, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand, said, “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry was facing a shakeup. The increasingly competitive nature of healthcare has meant that patients have more choice and control over their journey. This means healthcare providers need to put the patient at the centre of everything they do in a marked contrast to past models.
“The first step towards this was attempted with Australia’s My Health Record, which aimed to give patients a portable medical history that could be accessed by healthcare providers regardless of location. However, Australians were generally reluctant to sign up to the online service. This has highlighted the importance to healthcare providers of bringing privacy and cybersecurity considerations to the forefront as they modernise their operations.”
At the same time, streamlining healthcare for individual patients has become increasingly important as Australia’s population ages, with greater pressure on hospitals and aged care providers to help people maintain a good quality of life. In 2017, more than one in seven Australians were aged 65 years or older (1) and older Australians accounted for one in five emergency department presentations (2).
Conversely, Australia has a relatively low number of medical practitioners per head of population, especially in rural areas. In 2017, major cities accounted for more than 75,000 doctors compared with outer regional, remote, and very remote areas, which had a combined total of 6,735 doctors. (3) This creates demand for innovative ways of delivering treatment to remote patients, such as surgeries that can be conducted by robots or remote-controlled equipment.
Dave Lennon said, “Patient expectations are growing and, at the same time, advances in technologies and techniques are providing new ways to deliver enhanced healthcare outcomes. For example, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, and wearable sensors connected to the Internet of Things will contribute to a new healthcare model with the patient at the centre and various clinicians stepping in as appropriate.
“Telehealth services were adopted rapidly in response to the COVID-19 challenge, and will continue to benefit people enormously in the years ahead. There are many more emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the patient experience from first contact to discharge and ongoing maintenance.”
Patients aren’t the only stakeholders set to benefit from a more human-centric vision of healthcare supported by new technology. Clinicians and administrators will also find their jobs made much easier by technologies that streamline processes and help them rapidly scale their experience to benefit more people, faster.
For example, artificial intelligence systems can help speed up diagnoses and improve their accuracy, so clinicians can refer patients for the most appropriate treatment sooner. Improved working environments will include intelligent lighting, air conditioning and security systems, as well as smarter operating equipment. Predictive analytics and automation will help reduce the costs of providing healthcare while improving outcomes and reducing the risks associated with various procedures.
Dave Lennon said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of a healthcare system that can respond effectively and quickly to shifting conditions. There is a whole world of opportunity already available for healthcare providers and the next decade will drive more innovation and development. All of these developments will share one thing in common; they will put the patient at the centre of the conversation.
“Whether it’s about making medical records instantly and securely available, giving practitioners more support with diagnosis and treatment options, or managing hospital resources more efficiently, the healthcare industry is on the cusp of making the patient experience far more pleasant, less stressful, and, crucially, more successful in terms of health outcomes.
“Co-creation of the technologies that underpin this approach is a key success factor. By working closely together with a strong focus on the human factor in healthcare, organisations can transform the way they deliver services and address key challenges.”
Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand has explored these themes in depth in its latest whitepaper titled A human-centric vision for the future of healthcare. The full whitepaper is available for download.