Our guest speaker Mike Roberts started his career in health in the mid-70s and has pursued a varied career in many facets of health care since that time.
Key points of Mike’s talk:
- Current expenditure on health in Australia is $140 billion per year, about the same as other Western nations. Highest expenditure is on cardiovascular.
- Health care is funded by a mix of federal and state government, private insurance and individual contributions.
- We face a major challenge . . . Ageing population = rising health and aged care needs.
Challenges to fixing the health system:
- Health services are the most complex organisations devised by humans,
- Diversity of functions, e.g. a mix of up to 50 specialist clinical services (growing),
- The system is messy,
- Governments have an idealised view of the system – a patient’s view can be different,
- People navigating the system experience different time frames, priorities & queues.
So why isn’t the system “fixed” yet?
- Changing complex systems is like “trying to make a tram do a U-turn
- New service capacity and efficiencies are quickly absorbed by growing demand,
- The approach to understanding and solving problems hasn’t been systemic.
- Health is the same as the rest of our community: Even when we know what’s coming we are not good at planning for the future.
Things that give optimism:
- Despite frustrations many improvement activities are showing results,
- High quality people everywhere,
- Made huge improvements in terms of quality and safety,
- Growing interest in using design approaches to solving healthcare,
- Increasing focus on team and leader coaching,
- Great results in some services, e.g., integrated acute medicine, aged and community care,
- New organisational models promise hope,
- Disruptive innovations,
- New treatments, ways of providing care, technology, home support.
Still to do:
- Indigenous health gap,
- Rural health gap,
- Alcohol and drugs,
- Sensible planning cycles,
- Hospital builds and upgrades,
- Implement Aged Care and Community Care reforms,
- Disability care.
Don thanked Mike for a most interesting and informative talk.
Reporter (Acting): Ron Dickson