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February 05, 2019
BODY OF EVIDENCE: AUSTRALIAN DIGITALLY-ENABLED HEALTH
By: Shannon Tobolov

Australian Consumers embraced digital service interfaces in industries such as finance and retail years ago, and are accustomed to personalised, on-demand service. In contrast, the traditional health delivery system has been notoriously slow to change. Now, even health executives are catching on, and starting to adopt technologies like applied intelligence. Digital disruption has started in earnest and, I believe, is only going to accelerate. Today’s healthcare organisations will either adapt and survive or they will flounder and be replaced.

A significant gap remains, however, between what consumers want from a digital health experience and what they get: demand is far outpacing supply. According to Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health,1 Australians are increasingly using self-service technology to improve their health and wellbeing and the numbers are rising each year. For example:

  • 47% of healthcare consumers are using mobile/tablet health apps
  • The use of wearables to understand, engage and monitor health has quadrupled since 2014 from 7% to 27%
  • Given the choice, 65% of healthcare consumers would use virtual care for an after-hours appointment and 75% would use it for daily support to manage an ongoing health issue
  • 65% of respondents said that they would be likely to use an Artificial Intelligence device to test blood at home

No industry is as ripe to explore new operating models as healthcare. The health ecosystem has long been full of possibilities, but siloed and complex to navigate. Now, with digital tools, all organisations within the ecosystem - public, private, non-profit, provider or payer, have an opportunity to integrate and innovate. While “ecosystem” may be disparaged as yet another buzzword, it is appropriate. Scientists have been studying ecosystems in the physical world for hundreds of years and the metaphor of interconnected organisms akin to the rising possibilities for interconnected organisations in our health system is apt. The ability to digitally enable hyperconnected information is fuelling transformational shifts.

Information exchange and its translation into real insights is the electrical current within the ecosystem - similar to a brain that controls the movements of the human body. The centre or “heart” of care will always be the consumer, and innovation is the fuel pumping oxygen through the system. The ability to adapt and be agile gives the body strength or “muscles”, and the use platforms and microservices that enable new collaborations give rise to a systems (or “whole body”) approach. Digitally-enabled health delivery in Australia has taken significant strides in recent years but we have a long way to go to utilise these dynamic digital forces to achieve the Quadruple Aim of better patient experience, better clinician experience, improved population health and reduced costs. In order to keep pace, organisations need to embrace these five essential factors as part of an “ecosystem survival kit”. Next time I’ll deal with the specifics of the vital organs and how they contribute to the kit. Have thoughts on Australia’s maturing digital health ecosystem? I’d love to hear them, so please get in touch.

1Accenture 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health in Australia.

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