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Experts weigh in on the future of healthcare

19 August 2021 at 7:00 am
CBB shares five key takeaways from a recent webinar exploring the future of healthcare and how to navigate the royal commission recommendations.

Contributor | 19 August 2021 at 7:00 am


Experts weigh in on the future of healthcare
19 August 2021 at 7:00 am

CBB shares five key takeaways from a recent webinar exploring the future of healthcare and how to navigate the royal commission recommendations.

One thing is abundantly clear: the current approach to healthcare is not sustainable. There can be no more royal commissions, but the path forward is obscured by the smoke and mirrors of “short-term-ism”. Subject-matter-experts from PwC, Francis Health, Transforming Solutions, and CBB came together for a stimulating and practical discussion on how service providers can sustainably and competitively adapt to new operating environments in the recent webinar Healthcare for the future: Navigating royal commission recommendations. Here are the webinar’s five key takeaways.

1. The role of the family 

Panellists Kerryn Brown and Michael Homden spoke on the role of the family in the future of care. Of course, family is already an integral element of care – ideally, family members are engaged in their loved one’s journey through the system. But now, the role of the family can evolve; they should be supported and educated to play a bigger role in the care of their relatives. 

Brown referenced a case where a provider wanted to upskill families in the use of personal protective equipment to make sure their loved one receiving care is not isolated during COVID-19 outbreaks. Initiatives like this should be widely considered across the sector, and co-designed with families, clients, and other stakeholders. 

2. Self-knowledge is key to success

According to panellist Martin Freeman, a provider’s ability to adapt and thrive will be contingent on self-knowledge. The leadership of an organisation must honestly identify responses to the following high level questions to understand the organisational weaknesses that may inhibit quality, safety, and sustainability:

  1. What steps are you taking to optimise the health, wellbeing, and experience of residents?
  2. What are the financial implications of your current service provision?
  3. How confident are you that your services are managed safely and well?
  4. How well do your clinical capabilities align with the needs of your residents?

To identify the answers to these questions, you require good analytics. If there’s room for improvement in your data gathering, consider using digital technologies. For example, where home care is concerned, make sure there are measures in place to remotely monitor and support the provision of services.  

3. Managing change

The sector’s shortcomings have always been the subject of media and public scrutiny, and the royal commission recommendations will only exacerbate this attention as providers adjust to new operating and regulatory environments. There’s an opportunity here: the public perceives and expects that practices will improve within the sector. By proving them right, we’ll inspire much more confidence in providers and cultivate a more favourable reputation. 

But managing this level of change is scary, especially when it’s in the spotlight. The first step is to manage expectations within your organisation, and really let go of mindsets that revolve around “that’s the way we’ve always done it” and “that’s not my job”. Substantial change programs are the key first step to achieving this – and ensuring that workforce of all levels are engaged and involved in any decisions. 

4. Business models must pivot

Providers are facing increased operational and staffing requirements, but also leaner budgets. The business model is not feasible in its current state. Bev Barber stressed the importance of an agile business model that can pivot. Homden also raised the need to evaluate how providers can offer stable, consistent, safe, and high quality services with smaller budgets. 

The government is likely to implement many changes in response to the royal commission’s recommendations, and providers should be ready to pivot towards compliance immediately. Time is of the essence here, so we must begin to work through business models now.

Homden recommends that providers assess their built environments. Is it possible to implement new models of care, or adapt existing ones? A move towards more holistic environments (for example, over 50’s campuses) may ensure people stay in the community longer. 

5. Quality of life is non-negotiable

There needs to be a clearer pathway to entrench quality of life as a non-negotiable outcome because individuals deserve a productive and dignified quality of life. 

To put it bluntly, the current setting impairs the attainment of quality of life; the healthcare landscape is complex, disjointed, and confusing. And then there’s the fact that all of these services have to draw on many different buckets of government funding, which has created the siloed and inefficient system we have today. Unfortunately, the most serious negative impact falls on the most vulnerable of society – aging Australians. 

The healthcare system needs a preventative, goal-orientated incentive to change at a macro level. Reactive, crisis management funding needs to cease and instead be channelled into a strategic reform program that better connects and integrates the many arms of the healthcare landscape through innovation and incentivisation. 

The bottom line is that quality of care should not be a point of difference for providers – it should be a given. In fact, it must be a social licence to operate. 

It’s imperative that quality of life is the cornerstone of our integrated healthcare system – that is, not just living longer but rather living a longer, healthier, productive, and dignified life. The panellists agreed that rehabilitation services are key here. With the availability of digital technologies and robotics, providers can support clients to remain in their own environment, delaying the upheaval that comes with transitioning to the system. 

To enable such empowerment at a provider level, however, we must first dismantle the silos and establish a world class healthcare system. Who knows how far off this revolution is? In the meantime, providers must prepare for the future and take a more holistic approach to care. 


CBB is a national not for profit with a clear mission to build the capacity and sustainability of its sector through salary packaging and business consulting. By sponsoring this webinar, CBB provided a valuable professional development opportunity to professionals in the sector. 

For a more in-depth explanation of these concepts, points, and strategies, you can watch the 60-minute webinar in full here.

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