“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,” continued Moran.
Healthcare’s approach to digital transformation is shifting
Australia’s further adoption of digital care delivery models during the pandemic has increased the demand for future investments in digital health technologies. Between 13 March 2020 and 21 April 2021, over 56 million COVID-19 telehealth services were delivered to 13.6 million patients, as a result of national policy changes and extension of Medicare benefits.
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.
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.
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,” added Matt Moran, General Manager, Philips Australia & New Zealand.
Australia’s challenges to modernisation
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. 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 has been exposed as vulnerabilities by the pandemic – are among the further internal barriers impeding their ability to plan for the future.
A prevailing optimism, despite challenges
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. 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.
Increased focus on sustainable care models
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. This represents a moderate increase from the 21% on average delivered currently.
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,
Since 2016, Philips has conducted original research to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective health systems. For details on the Future Health methodology and to access the Future Health Index 2021 report in its entirety, visit: https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/news/future-health-index.