Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Health Department Leadership Condemns Itself From Its Own Release. Just Awful.

This release appeared on Friday:

Health Secretary outlines the challenges of health reform to Committee for Economic Development of Australia

The broad reform agenda that the Australian Government is embarking on in health is being enthusiastically embraced by the Federal Department of Health as it moves to better deliver strategic policy advice and action.
11 March 2016
The broad reform agenda that the Australian Government is embarking on in health is being enthusiastically embraced by the Federal Department of Health as it moves to better deliver strategic policy advice and action, the Secretary of the Department, Martin Bowles, told health sector leaders at a conference in Brisbane today.
Speaking at a meeting of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Mr Bowles said modernising Australia’s health system to meet the needs and expectations of consumers is a big challenge for the Health bureaucracy but he was confident great changes can be achieved by innovative, data-driven, evidence based policy making.
“In transforming Australia’s health and ageing system we are going through an exciting time of change, of innovation and opportunity, but the pressures are ever present and if not managed properly could overwhelm us,” Mr Bowles said.
“It is for this reason that I have made widespread structural changes within the Department of Health so our people can participate effectively in this unique opportunity for change.”
Mr Bowles said managing an ageing population, an epidemic of chronic disease, outmoded primary care financing arrangements, a disconnected health system and the need to embrace digital technology put an enormous pressure on health resources.
“This is why the Australian Government has a string of parallel and complementary health reforms currently underway and implementing new strategies from these reviews requires new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things and we need to do things better and innovate.
“Health Department officers are supporting these expert reviews which are looking at a range of health programs which affect the daily lives of all Australians,” Mr Bowles said.
“These include a review of our Medical Benefits Schedule which contains items and procedures listed on the MBS, some that are long past their use by date with others simply illogical.
“In addition we have been managing a review into the way primary health care is provided in Australia. This is a landmark review and could result in a whole new way of funding and delivering primary health care, particularly for people with chronic and complex conditions and those living with mental health issues.
“We are having a national discussion on Private Health Insurance, an issue that the general public has engaged with in their thousands responding to an on-line survey.
“We are also serious about electronic health records which is the way forward to ensure better health care for all Australians that will no doubt save lives and eliminate a lot of waste in the health system.”
Mr Bowles said the return of aged care to the Health Department will assist in the big challenge now that the Australian population is living so much longer and older. People need the best health care options available to them to live long and happy lives.
“Aged care is back where I believe it belongs and we have some excellent reforms coming on line to improve the health and wellbeing of older Australians,” he said.
“However, one of my most pressing concerns is that we take advantage of better data collection and reporting to give us the evidence of what is required, what is working and what isn’t,” Mr Bowles said.
“We need to put data, analytics, evaluation and research at the centre of health care to make the system work smarter and more effectively.”
Mr Bowles said he saw the Federal Department of Health as a prime leader in the health reform agenda and to this end he has put stronger emphasis on the department’s relationships with stakeholders, maximising linkages and building effective, ongoing partnerships including with colleagues in the states and territories.
“We need to have the courage to try new and innovative ways of doing things and I am confident that every other stakeholder in the health arena sees the same opportunities for reform and are keen to play their part,” Mr Bowles said.
The link is here:
There is also more lengthy coverage here:

Health Department boss: ‘doing nothing is not an option’

by
Martin Bowles

11.03.2016
SPEECH: The enormous challenges in health policy are actually an opportunity, the Health Department boss says. He outlines the reform agenda around primary and mental health, aged care and funding responsibility.
We are going through an exciting time of change, of innovation and of opportunity — looking to transform Australia’s health and ageing system to create a dynamic and responsive system that meets modern needs.
I’ve been secretary of the Health Department for 17 months now and I came to the job with quite a different perspective. I spent 12 years working in the health system running hospitals and health services in Queensland and New South Wales and then I left to do other things. So after 11 years out of health I’ve found myself back at the centre of health as the federal secretary of Health.
My time both inside and outside the system gives you an interesting perspective. Coming back, I saw a fragmented and disconnected health system. I saw disconnect between primary, acute and aged care. Between states, territories and the Commonwealth. And between the public and private systems. I saw not one health system, but many.
We are faced with many challenges such as government overlap, inefficiencies in the system and a need to reform systems such as Medicare and private health insurance to ensure they reflect modern Australia.
 Lots more here:
Two paragraphs stick out for me:
First:
“Speaking at a meeting of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Mr Bowles said modernising Australia’s health system to meet the needs and expectations of consumers is a big challenge for the Health bureaucracy but he was confident great changes can be achieved by innovative, data-driven, evidence based policy making.”
Second:
“We are also serious about electronic health records which is the way forward to ensure better health care for all Australians that will no doubt save lives and eliminate a lot of waste in the health system.”
Talk about cognitive dissonance! Just what evidence based policy surrounds the My Health Record initiative?
If there was any we would be ankle deep in it - but the silence on evidence has been just deafening! Bottom line is that the whole mess is just being made up as DoH goes along as it has been for the last 5 years or so!
I bet the DoH would not be spending all this money if it was their money and not the money of the poor benighted taxpayer.
I am not an expert on the other aspects of health policy so won’t comment other than to wonder just how enthusiastically the DoH bureaucracy is embracing all this change. Those claims don’t really have the ‘ring of truth’ to me, knowing typical Federal Bureaucracies!
David.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you look at his speech it's mostly:

Things need to be done.
We need to reform things.
We are doing things.
We are good.

Unfortunately he hasn't explained what those things are.

Possibly because a) he doesn't know or b) they are useless.

Trevor3130 said...

On those DoH reviews, listen to George Savvides and Stephen Duckett on RN a few days ago.
Another who should be coaxed out of the shadows is Gary Sterrenberg (Chief Information Officer, Department of Human Services).