Digital health strategy left in a skills limbo

4 minute read

Workforce capability is just one pillar of QLD’s new eHealth strategy but it’s the one that keeps the big boss up at night.

Damian Green, deputy director general of eHealth Queensland, gave a “sneak peak” of the state’s new virtual healthcare strategy at the Digital Health Institute Summit 2022.  

The strategy focuses on four pillars: empowering consumers, partnering better with primary care and other providers, creating workforce capability and supporting sustainability. 

Mr Green said the workforce agenda was absolutely critical.  

“It’s not doing what we do today with the people that we have today and trying to replicate that through virtual models. It’s about redesigning those virtual models,” he said. 

Mr Green told The Medical Republic that the lack of skilled workforce was what keeps him up at night because it was limiting the strategy rollout.  

“We haven’t got the capacity or the capability to implement at pace. That’s why partnership is so important,” Mr Green said referring to collaborations with universities and training institutes. 

At the Digital Health Institute Summit Mr Green suggested that sustainable solutions should also be high on the agenda for future providers to QLD Health. 

“If anyone’s trying to ask money from government – if you haven’t thought about how your solution is going to make the system more efficient you’re not hearing the problem. This concept of driving sustainability in healthcare is to ensure that we can drive better outcomes, whether it be from (improvement) of the workflow or how the consumer is receiving the care and are a partner in that care. That is the objective,” Mr Green said. 

Damian Green presents the QLD virtual healthcare strategy at Digital Health Summit 2022.

The strategy aims to balance what Mr Green referred to as the demand and supply equation.  

“We’ve got demand going through the roof. We know our responsibility is to drive better care and drive better outcomes but we’ve also got limited supply (of healthcare services).” 

The strategy’s success relies around digital transformation reshaping both demand for and supply of health services. According to Mr Green it will require a “rewiring” of health services. 

“Digital Transformation isn’t about thinking about what we to do and enabling it through digital technologies. Digital Transformation is about radically rethinking our operating model to provide better outcomes for consumers. Thinking about what we can do to radically improve the consumer experience, radically thinking about what we can do to improve the clinician experience. It’s also about the sustainability challenge and radically rethinking about how we can make our system more efficient and drive better outcomes.” 

The strategy has been both informed and boosted by the pandemic which saw digital solving some of covid’s challenges, Mr Green said.  

“It’s given our agenda a bit more credibility in this broader discussion. I’m not just the IT guy asking for money to invest in your IT systems. I’m beginning to engage my colleagues in a conversation around digital and how it’s solving their problems.” 

Queensland’s new eHealth strategy aims to reshape the demand and supply of healthcare through digital transformation.

The immediate future for Queensland Health hinges on whether the pandemic peaks again. However, even without a new covid variation Mr Green said the department will have their work cut out for them. 

“I know pressure will come on Queensland Health to start performing; to get (patients) into surgeries, to start addressing the issues that have occurred with people’s care being delayed. Emergency Department pressures will grow fast, hospital ramping will start occurring. We will have all sorts of capacity and demand challenges and we’ll need an agile response. We’ll need to respond differently. That’s a strategy focus.” Mr Green said. 

The new strategy has been endorsed but not published and is currently in the approval stage. 

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