20

MAY, 2017

Melbourne Health Accelerator Program
Health reform
Both sides of the hospital bed

Startup fever has spread across the world, inspiring apps that allow people to book rides with citizen owner-drivers, and stay in rooms with citizen home-owners.

And now it has spread to hospitals. In true startup ‘flip’ style, The Royal Melbourne Hospital is now hosting Australia’s first Startup Health Accelerator program, set inside an abandoned Intensive Care Unit.

In a long room on the second floor where people once fought for their lives, small tech companies are developing cost effective apps, communication systems and smart devices.

Melbourne Health Accelerator Program

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Change must come to the health industry.

Costs are currently unsustainable yet continue to rise. Error rates are higher than any other industry. The nature of health customers has changed, from younger people with acute disease to an ageing population with chronic diseases.

At the same time, both patients and health professionals need more support, and less of the ‘blame game’.

It’s not easy being sick, powerless and trapped on a journey through an error prone and over priced system.

It’s also incredibly stressful working in a pressure cooker system that demands shift work, highly technical skills, quick thinking; yet rarely rewards and frequently blames.

“For innovation at the delivery level to occur, system-wide innovation is required of the way Australian healthcare is insured and financed..”  Jeremy Sammut

Instead of the recent bickering over public v private health funding, there are a few simple reforms that could save all Australians billions of dollars every year.

Changing to the way prices are set under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme could save $500 million a year. Increasing funding for GP’s to manage chronic conditions could help save more than $320 million a year on avoidable hospital admissions. Refusing to pay for for no-value treatments and avoidable errors could save $50 billion a year.

But health reform isn’t just about dollars and cents. It’s also about looking at the way we do things, how effective they really are and finding smarter ways to work.

Dr Andrew Bryant

This week saw an ongoing tragedy in the suicide of Perth Doctor Dr Andrew Bryant. His wife wrote a public letter of Facebook to raise the issue of medical suicide.

 

“If more people talked about what leads to suicide, if people didn’t talk about as if it was shameful, if people understood how easily and quickly depression can take over, then there might be fewer deaths.” Susan Bryant.

A study in 2013 of more than 14,000 Australian doctors and medical students by BeyondBlue, revealed that a quarter of Doctors have had suicidal thoughts in the last 12 months, and 2 per cent had actually attempted suicide.

Three Australian junior Doctors have killed themselves since September 2016 alone.

The reasons are work related: performance anxiety, fear of exposure of being unable to cope, grinding workloads that go on for years after finishing internship, rotating shifts that destroy sleep patterns and an all pervasive fear of litigation.

Health reform doesn’t just mean cutting waste and reducing errors. It also means listening to the problems raised by both sides of the hospital bed, and coming up with effective solutions.

Patients continuously ask for more basic nursing care, better pain relief, the ability to go home sooner, quotes on out of pocket costs before treatments and a clear and honest treatment explanation.

Doctors are increasingly asking for help with depression, suicide risk, fear of litigation and a rising tide of violence from some members of the public.

Health startups need to find affordable and effective solutions to these human problems.

Health reform doesn’t just mean big data, artificial intelligence and smart devices.

It also means Doctors who go home to their families every night, and patients who leave hospital in a safe and comfortable manner.

© Wikihospitals 2017

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Based in Melbourne