This blog is totally independent and has only three major objectives.
The first is to inform readers of news and happenings in the e-Health domain, both here in Australia and world-wide.
The second is to provide commentary on e-Health in Australia and to foster improvement where I can.
The third is to encourage discussion of the matters raised in the blog so hopefully readers can get a balanced view of what is really happening and what successes are being achieved.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
A New Paper On A Digitally Enabled Health System From The CSIRO. A Trifle Unrealistic I Believe.
Technology will be a key factor controlling the exponential rise of healthcare costs in Australia’s future, according to the newly-released CSIRO paper, A Digitally Enabled Health System.
The paper was released during the Health-e-Nation 2014 Summit, and Dr David Hansen, who is CEO of the Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), a CSIRO and QLD government joint-venture, says that it will be a talking point that spurs future research collaborations.
“There’s been a lot of downloads of the document,” he says. “We have had serious numbers of hits on it.”
Launched under CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services flagship, the report outlines digital remedies for key healthcare issues in Australia’s health system and outlines benefits through improved service quality and patient centricity.
Dr Hansen says that a key driver in future health research will be data, with clinical ontology playing a “huge role.”
“There is a real maturing, with the personally controlled electronic health record bedding down,” he says.
“We are also seeing hospitals really recognising that their data is a key asset to them and starting to use it in different ways to improve services and to support research into best practice and into clinical research,” he says.
The Digitally Enabled Health System report calls patient-centric data “the lifeblood of tomorrow’s health system,” and notes that currently, adverse medication reactions account for around three per cent of al hospital admissions, with about half of these preventable.
Australia's health system faces significant challenges including rising costs, an aging population, a rise in chronic diseases and fewer rural health workers. Treasury estimates even suggest that at current rates of growth, and without significant change, health expenditure will exceed the entire state and local government tax base by 2043. We need to look at new ways to make the health system work smarter. Digital technologies and health service innovation promise that.
This report A Digitally-enabled Health System looks at how the Australian health system can reduce costs and deliver quality care.
Some of the technology identified in the report includes telepresence robots taking rural health workers on city rounds, wireless ID wristbands monitoring patients in real time, mobile health apps assisting with at-home rehab and smart software that knows what patients will be turning up to emergency departments, 6-12 months in advance.
It is worth downloading the report to see how impractical some reports can be and how the theoreticians can rather miss the obvious issues.
To me the 2020 vision is probably early by a decade at least - see page 21 to see a proposed scenario.
My reason for saying this is simply based on the time it has taken to get to where we are in mid-2014 from the serious start to hospital and GP automation which got seriously underway in the late 1990s.
After 15 years we still do not have advanced level of automation in most hospitals and it seems very unlikely to me this vision will happen much before 2030. This is because it seems to me the report just ignores the scale of the change management and cost issues that will be associated with a transition to this proposed vision.
It also strikes me that by 2020 the technologies being appropriate to be deployed may be very different to those discussed here. Remember the iPad was only introduced in March 2010 - all of just 4 years ago - and who would have seen their impact coming!
The report also seems to somehow skate over the necessary basic IT infrastructure which is by no means generally in place as needed.
In summary a nice glossy brochure which I suspect is rather narrow in focus and not really addressing the basic gaps we presently have. Walking properly before you run is a sensible motto, and we are barely yet upright so far!