May the fourth be with health reform

3 minute read

A who’s who of Australian healthcare are taking matters into their own hands.

More than 200 healthcare movers and shakers will converge on Canberra next month to tackle the biggest barriers to healthcare reform.

Health reform strategist Michelle O’Brien has curated a speakers line up of healthcare leaders and high-profile influencers who are meeting in the nation’s capital for what she believes is an Australian first.

“I don’t believe Australia has ever had all sectors represented in a room for a conversation about health reform,” she said.

“We’re bringing together people who want to share their ideas about how we could improve the system. We’re providing them that forum to have the conversation.”

Ms O’Brien said participants represented the entire health sector, including local health districts (LHDs), public and private hospitals, strategy and policy executives, peak bodies, consumer groups, service providers, doctors, digital health gurus and technology providers.

“You’ve got all the ingredients in the room for a recipe to fix the health system,” she said.

Many are coming a day earlier for a pre-summit health reform workshop – now sold out despite capacity being expanded twice. The workshop aims to map out and achieve consensus on the basic components for healthcare reform.

Tim Blake, managing director at Semantic Consulting, said the pre-summit workshop had drawn “an incredibly talented and diverse group of systems thinkers” all to one place.

“I’m excited that the agenda is not to focus on current problems – I think most people understand them well – but to tease out some very practical ideas about how we move forward with health reform,” he said.

Mr Blake acknowledged the collective group did not have the authority to force reform but said that as individuals they had “huge influence” within the health system.

“My hope is that we’ll get some tangible actions for different stakeholders to work on over the next 12 months,” he said.

“If we set some small goals, we can move things forward.”

International co-commissioning expert Jay Rebbeck will run the pre-summit workshop on 3 May.

“The workshop aims to explore lateral ideas to health reform such as a possible body for state and federal cooperation for funding and policy, widespread co-commissioning, data sharing across all boundaries and and elevating the voice of consumers to improve population outcomes,” he said.

The confidential attendee list is networking-worthy and there are expected to be some robust conversations at the summit’s social events. Among the attendees are rival health providers that proactively compete for funding and peak health bodies that don’t always agree.

Scott Willis, president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, is keen for collaboration.

“We all need to align so that we can work together to deliver strong health leadership,” he said.

Mr Willis will be speaking on a panel discussing inequity and social determinants of health. He said it’s essential to “bring the patient on the journey” in health reform planning.

“If the patient is not with us, the practitioner is not going to be with us,” he said.

“Then the change that we need to see will be hindered, and the health department may consider it too difficult and choose to wait for the next parliament to come in to see what they think.”

With the who’s who in healthcare turning up and some very senior bureaucrats in the room perhaps healthcare reform has a new hope.

Full access tickets have now sold out.There is still time to register for the summit only, which will be held on 4 May.

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