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How the hell do we actually move forward and fix healthcare?
Are we finally talking about the elephant(s) in the room?!
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There’s an elephant in the room. Ok, the room might kind of be exploding with them…
Yet somehow, as an industry, and country - we often manage to put blinders on and ever so skillfully dance, duck and dodge around them.
But last week, at the Wild Health Summit, the blinders were well and truly off. Which, is honestly, terrifying, taxing, and also somewhat refreshing.
I’m not known for my subtle views on the state of healthcare.
See articles like this below (also why I am not allowed to be interviewed 🙃)
So, keeping on brand, here’s a few real talk takeaways from the day. And insights into the system state of play…
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The truth can be scary. Hell, terrifying…
So often, we close our eyes, focus on what’s immediately in front of us and dance around the hard discussions. Often shunning those who dare broach the topics of discomfort.
But thankfully, there’s a rallying crew of “troublemakers”. Having open conversations, about the realities of the somewhat rancid, and slowly rotting underbelly of healthcare.
Everyone knows it. But it’s like the unspoken rule that we can’t collectively talk about it at scale. Or perhaps, just not in open forums that matter. Or that enables true action.
So to hear, see and feel the raw truth from a room of wild smart accomplished people -who know their shit, is a sigh of relief
Before we can have action, we actually need to acknowledge the problems exists
And fully understand them - not just at a superficial level
Our “Brilliant System”, designed back in the 60s - does exactly what it is supposed to do.
But healthcare has changed. Society changed. We changed. What we want and need from the system has changed. And it’s no longer working.
But, instead of changing the system to address this - we keep attempting the equivalent of dodgy DIY patch jobs. And hoping, somehow - it will magically fix it.
We’re trying to make a system fit for purpose for something it simply wasn’t made to do…
It’s like taking a horse and cart - then saying, let’s use this to travel overseas. Pulling off the wheels, trying to plug the holes and making it fit for sea travel. It might kind of work, but it’s not a great idea and you’ll likely eventually sink
You’re much better off just building a boat
Think it’s time to look at building ourselves a boat. With some new foundations.
It’s annoying. And hard as hell. But really, what is the alternative? Drowning?
And, the more water you let in the boat. The harder it is to get it out and undo the damage. So then why aren’t we actually doing anything about it?
~ Another gem from the day…
As a clinician, you look at a set of problems, signs and symptoms to try to diagnose the true underlying issues. Then, establish where you want to be - and work backwards from there to create a plan of attack
Yet whilst brilliant at doing that every day for patients, for some godforsaken reason - it does not seem to happen at the business or systems level
Logical hey. And sadly…
It won’t be until the pain of change finally exceeds the pain of working with the old BS will anything actually change
*I can feel a good 30% of you physically shuddering right now*
But, when on earth will that be?
How bad will the damage be?
And will we even be able to recover?
Don’t know about you, but I’m praying right now…
👀 Side Note: In case you missed it..
The day before the conference there was an interesting coordinated media attack on the supposed fraudulent billing of GPs
Talk about a good way to get people fired up.
What’s somewhat hilarious, is these articles say what everyone in healthcare knows - there is a hell of a lot of errors and issues in and around Medicare, but in some new strangely contorted way.
And. instead of just saying that - the media decided to take a new angle ft. headlines throwing GPs under the bus. Thanks to some sources of unclear and likely incomplete data, interwoven with random cases and quotes.
Well done media - let’s attack the workers at the coalface who are already drowning trying to juggle all Aus’s complex healthcare needs in mere 8-minute sessions. And often crazy underpaid for it.
Are we trying to make them leave?!
I’m torn between…
“PLEASE DON’T WE NEED YOU” and “GET OUT, SAVE YOURSELVES”
Not saying there’s isn’t a heap of waste, with some of the data and stories no doubt true. And like any profession, there are always some who do the wrong thing. But this… in this fool’s opinion - was just a step too far.
On the plus side: There’s no way that every man, his dog and even his politician on holiday in Hawaii could avoid it. So maybe they will look into… something? And we can hope it was all some sick media play to get peoples attention.
🎯 TL;DR of the Days Takeaways
Everything from actual innovation, system implementation, big tech, health funding and aged care was covered. But at the end of the day, here is the real state of play…
❌ What the problems in the system are not
A lack of good intentions
A lack of people who care
A lack of people who want change
The capabilities or availability of tech
A lack of funding
*Not saying anything about the allocation of it
✅ What the real state of the system is
Everyone burnt out
Every speciality exiting, or looking to, en mass - from nursing to clinicians, aged care and allied health
The stats look like we could lose between 30-50% of each over the next decade
A too commonly shared experience of being told to “not be so disruptive” when speaking the truth or trying to address issues
Few in the system that would trust it with their own or loved ones’ lives
A mass wastage of $
Often we (collectively) don’t even know where it goes
Misallocation of $
People not wanting to add more to their overflowing plate
People not wanting to lose their positions or pay
A lot of finger-pointing and some very stupid blame games
Too often, instead of looking at things through a combined lense, we accidentally shroud it all in bias, passion and ass-covering that it leads to a non-stop finger-pointing game
An issue with culture
With the silos, strong stances and lack of true collaboration. No wonder we can’t move forward
💡 So then, how on earth do we move forward?
Discussions are great, and it’s easy to criticise. But what we actually need are practical steps to begin moving forward.
Here are 3 things I think can, and will help:
There is a crazy fear of change, technology, and a skills gap. What we don’t know, we often reject. And change can be hard. Especially when you don’t have supports or resources in place to help. Or even, explain why on earth it is necessary.
So to get this to happen - there needs to be serious investment in educating and upskilling everyone involved. But especially, those on the ground and deep in the weeds who will be the main users and implementers of any changes.
2) Collaboration… And actually having complete conversations
It’s ironic, in an industry that uses the word so much - how little true collaboration happens at times.
To have a cohesive system - we should probably get all the actual stakeholders, along with experts from all areas (tech, policy and health), and patients - in a room to talk about what they need, want and understand properly where they are coming from and why. Then collectively problem solve. Instead of this exclusivity and silo bs. And making gross assumptions from tiny datasets.
But more proper accessible forums and opportunities carved out for collaboration, and truly inclusive conversations, are the way forward.
The systems. Incentives. Funding. And what “healthcare” actually is.
Obviously, this is complicated, and can’t happen in one mere swoop. But it can’t, and shouldn’t truly begin until the other 2 steps have happened. Knowledge is power. And getting a clear, comprehensive understanding of the real problem/s, is the first step in creating any useful solution.
Then - we can actually chart where we want to go, and what outcomes we’re hoping to achieve together. And work backwards from there to create a plan to get there.
💫 To sum up this windy rant
We’ve started talking about the problems. And that’s a great start.
But now, it’s time to go get that full medical history and diagnose the underlying issues - instead of just using temporary bandaid fixes. Then, we can figure out our collective goals - and create a truly inclusive, multidimensional treatment plan.
Like any treatment, rehab, or recovery path - it will take time. And a lot of trial and error. But all we need is a sprinkle of hope, and the willingness to keep trying.
Last, but not least…
Want to pitch to me and some actually impressive industry peeps? 📣 Come to Victorian Healthcare Week! 🏥
We’re stoked to be supporting this years Vic Healthcare Week Expo 🥳 December 7-8 at MCEC in Melbourne
Vic Healthcare week expo is back with a 2 day line up of talks and expo presenters across Digital Healthcare, Nursing, Patient Experience and Startups
There’s even a Startup pitch comp ft. 3 categories: Women’s Health, MedTech and Assisted Living & Disability. Keen? Throw your hat in the ring!
Or just keen to come along? 💃
Get your free ticket to the expo here 🎫
Thats all today
See you soon (like, tomorrow soon Sydney 🥳 )
With thanks to our partners 💜