Tuesday, 18 May 2021 12:10

Healthcare leaders note ‘resilience’ of healthcare system, but want investment in ‘predictive health’ technologies

By Staff Writer
Physicians consult Philips Medical Tablet with IntelliVue XDS software to monitor their patients remotely. Physicians consult Philips Medical Tablet with IntelliVue XDS software to monitor their patients remotely.

Australian healthcare leaders believe Australia’s healthcare system has shown resilience in the face of the pandemic, but that their hospital or healthcare facility needs to invest in predictive healthcare technologies.

According to Australian healthcare leaders interviewed for health technology company Philips' Future Health Index (FHI) 2021 Australian report: ‘A Resilient Future: Healthcare leaders look beyond the crisis’, 81% of Australian healthcare leaders believe Australia’s healthcare system has shown resilience in the face of the pandemic - while (29% say their hospital or healthcare facility most needs to invest in implementing predictive healthcare technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning in three years.

In addition the report found that:

  • About two-thirds (67%) of Australia’s healthcare leaders agree current healthcare policies and plans are contributing to building a resilient healthcare system, and
  • Lack of staff experience, limited funding, and stretched supply chains are identified as key challenges that could hinder Australian healthcare leaders’ ability to plan for the future.

Philips received feedback from the Australian healthcare leaders who included executive officers, financial officers, technology and information officers, operations officers and orthers, and explored the challenges they have faced since the onset of the pandemic, and where their current and future priorities lie

According to Philips, the healthcare leaders revealed a new vision for the future of healthcare - with a focus on patient-centered healthcare enabled by smart technology - and with their vision shaped by a fresh emphasis on partnerships, sustainability and new models of care delivery, both inside and outside the hospital.

“The effects of COVID-19 have undoubtedly taken a toll on the global healthcare sector. Through it all, and as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic in Australia, we remain one of the few industrialised nations to have implemented an effective national response,” said Matt Moran, Managing Director of Philips Australia & New Zealand.

“The Future Health Index 2021 Australian report highlights how Australia’s healthcare leaders have not only effectively managed the pandemic, but how the decisions made over the last year will inform the sector’s ability to strengthen health system resilience and deliver future proof care,” Moran said.

According to Philips, Australia’s further adoption of digital care delivery models during the pandemic has increased the demand for future investments in digital health technologies.

“In Australia, nearly two in three (63%) healthcare leaders say telehealth is currently the top digital health technology their hospital or healthcare facility is investing in – far above Singapore (42%) and China (47%).

“Looking forward, investment in telehealth will make way for further adoption of new digital solutions, with a focus on predictive technologies, specifically AI according to the Future Health Index 2021 report.

“Almost one-third (29%) of healthcare leaders say their hospital or healthcare facility most needs to invest in implementing predictive healthcare technologies in three years’ time to be prepared for the future, with 77% saying AI is one of the digital health technologies they would most like to invest in.”

Philips says healthcare leaders will shift current AI investment priorities to further support:

  • Optimising operational efficiency (from 26% to 35%)
  • Integrating diagnostic systems (from 13% to 32%)
  • Clinical decision making (from 3% to 25%) and, 
  • Predicting healthcare outcomes (from 2% to 29%).

“These priorities reflect the recommendations from the recent CSIRO report, COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience, which references improved point-of-care diagnostics as well as preventative and precision medicine solutions, enabled by advanced digital technologies, as opportunities to support health system recovery,” says Moran.

“To meet these digitalisation goals, almost half (45%) of Australian healthcare leaders want to collaborate with health informatics companies to help drive their digital transformation agenda. However, these bold ambitions face multiple challenges ahead of being realised.

“Australia’s healthcare leaders’ desire to engage partners focused on supporting their digitalisation goals is encouraging. Telehealth services provided Australians and healthcare professionals with a safe and reliable method for patient treatment during COVID-19 and demonstrated to practitioners the effectiveness of remote care solutions.

“This has paved the way for more advanced virtual care solutions to be adopted by both the public and private healthcare sectors nationally,” Moran said. 

The Royal Health report also shows that more than one-third (43%) of Australian healthcare leaders noted their staff’s lack of experience with new technologies as an internal barrier impeding their ability to plan for the future.

“Despite this, only around a third (30%) of healthcare leaders in Australia consider staff training necessary to implement digital health technologies successfully,” says Royal Health.

“Additional barriers to the adoption of digital health technology in their hospital or healthcare facility include lack of data interoperability or data standards across technological systems and platforms (33%), as well as financial & budgetary constraints (30%).

“Meanwhile, supply chain issues (32%) and staff shortages (29%) – both of which have been exposed as vulnerabilities by the pandemic – are among the further internal barriers impeding their ability to plan for the future.”

“The vast majority (81%) of Australian healthcare leaders feel that Australia’s healthcare system has shown resilience in how it has coped with the challenges of COVID-19,” notes Philips.

“While the global pandemic had a severe impact on global health systems, about four in five (84%) healthcare leaders say they are confident in the ability of Australia’s healthcare system to deliver quality care as they look toward the future.

“While about two-thirds (67%) of healthcare leaders believe that current healthcare policies in Australia have contributed to system resilience, post-pandemic policies focusing on the social determinants of population health, breaking down departmental silos and improved data sharing can reflect lessons learned from the pandemic as similarly noted by the Australian Hospitals and Healthcare Association.

Philips’ Future Health Index 2021 report found that within the next three years, nearly a quarter (24%) of routine care delivery on average is expected to take place outside of hospital walls - representing a moderate increase from the 21% on average delivered currently.

And according to the Index, only 4% of Australian healthcare leaders consider embedding sustainable practices in their hospital or healthcare facility a current priority.

With Australia’s healthcare sector responsible for 7% of the nation’s carbon footprint, the Future Health Index report found that implementing environmentally sustainable practices will become a leading priority for 38% of Australian healthcare leaders over the next three years.

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