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Digital Health Evolution

Australia’s path to the healthcare model of the future


Accenture’s healthcare transformation survey highlights the importance of a nuanced approach to digital transformation.

Australia has kept healthcare budget austerity at bay for now, unlike the United Kingdom. But several factors—including an aging population, skills shortages, rising costs, inefficiency, budgetary pressures and high rates of obesity and chronic diseases—make Australia’s healthcare system more unsustainable each passing year. So, is harsh austerity inevitable in Australia?

Digital transformation, while no panacea, is likely to be critical if major austerity measures are to be avoided. Technology-driven models—particularly those that allow patients to do more for themselves—have the potential to cut costs, remove bottlenecks and even improve health outcomes.


Technology confidence by country


Many other industries have demonstrated how technology can work as a major catalyst for change, while healthcare has not invested as heavily or effectively. Meanwhile, impressive technological advances in recent years—particularly in data analytics, artificial intelligence and automation—have only added to the untapped potential.

The key question is: How and where should Australian healthcare leaders invest to realise the full benefits of this potential?

Our research suggests that answering this may require a deep understanding of the healthcare channels and services consumers will choose. Without this a priori knowledge, authorities risk creating underused, undervalued or ineffective services, compounding the budgetary pressures they were designed to relieve.


Key Findings

A recent Accenture consumer survey of 750 Australians investigated attitudes to diverse aspects of healthcare transformation and innovation. While further research might produce better generalisability, the results suggest two things:

  1. There is reason to be optimistic about the prospects for technology-driven, self-directed healthcare in Australia

  2. Shifting in this direction will likely require a departure from the current, “one-size-fits-all” approach to healthcare delivery

Enabling reform will depend on offering the right services to the right groups of patients. And that means figuring out what various groups of consumers will adapt to, embrace or accept.


How do you feel about technology replacing traditional healthcare services?


Three-quarters (75 percent) of adult Australians in our survey are confident with new technology in general, showing the population has the aptitude to make a shift to more self-directed, digitally-enabled healthcare. 

There is also strong willingness to use new digital services: Seventy percent would be prepared to use self-monitoring devices at home, 65 percent would use a virtual assistant and 74 percent would interact with their doctor via email if it saved them time.

But it is important to note the difference between additional digital services and the replacement of traditional services with digital substitutes. Australians are not so enthusiastic about the latter. Only 41 percent feel positive about technology replacing traditional healthcare services, 17 percent view it negatively, and a high proportion (37 percent) are indifferent, perceiving equal pros and cons.


Satisfaction levels by country


Some 85 percent of Australians are satisfied with the overall quality of healthcare. So when considering modernisation, patients rightfully perceive there is a lot to lose, while potential gains are both untested and unfamiliar.

To convince and empower patients, the healthcare system needs to be designed around them. A suitably nuanced, patient-centred approach is needed to push forward the evolution of digital healthcare and help create a more financially sustainable health system for future Australians. 


Survey Methodology

Accenture commissioned a three-country survey of 2,250 consumers (aged 18+) to understand their attitudes toward their health system and healthcare technologies. The survey was completed online and included respondents from Australia (750), Japan (750) and Singapore (750). It was conducted by Longitude Research, on behalf of Accenture, between January and February 2016, with the sample evenly distributed across age groups, gender and income brackets. Each respondent self-reported having been treated by a health provider at least once per year over the past three years.


Ian Manovel
Ian Manovel

Innovation Principal Director - Health, ANZ Accenture

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