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Health | Ageing // Data | Digital economy

Data and technology capability are the major barriers for improving health services

KPMG Partner in Charge Policy, Programs and Evaluation and Global Lead, Health Analytics Evan Rawstron, told a CEDA livestream panel on health and technology that 80 per cent of health executives his firm surveyed said “putting consumers at the centre of their strategy was a top priority” but that issues with data and technology were standing in the way.
 

KPMG Partner in Charge Policy, Programs and Evaluation and Global Lead, Health Analytics Evan Rawstron, told a CEDA livestream panel on health and technology that 80 per cent of health executives his firm surveyed said “putting consumers at the centre of their strategy was a top priority” but that issues with data and technology were standing in the way.

“Less than half felt they had the ability to effectively harness data and analytical platforms to get timely access to insight,” he said.  

He noted that some clear trends are already beginning to emerge from KPMG’s work and research into global health systems after COVID-19.

“The significant investments that have been made into new digital access points for consumers into services are going to be sustained and will likely accelerate in years ahead,” he said.

“There is a recognition of the important role that data has played in decision making, particularly over the last 12 months, and a desire to invest further to accelerate transformation in care systems around the world.

“There is also genuine recognition that change in things that matter most – for example, better experiences for consumers or better integrated and safer care – may actually require substantial changes in the way our care systems are organised.

“In looking at these themes, digital transformation and the role of technology would seem to be a bit of a steel thread.

“There is a bit of a paradox in front of us when we think about technology and digital transformation in the years ahead: the more we invest and rely on technology and the more we expect from it, the more important it is going to be to build and sustain the right capabilities in humans in our workforce.”  


Mr Rawstron was joined by Telstra Health Managing Director, Professor Mary Foley AM and Health Industry Executive and Microsoft Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nic Woods.  

Professor Foley said it was “impressive to see how responsive we as a community have been to the urgent needs that were in front of us through the course of last year.”

She attributed this quick response to “four key factors”.

“Critically, people were able to leverage developments in digital health that were already in place due to government and industry investment, such as standardised ways of safely sending clinical information,” she said.

“Secondly, the government accelerated the policy solutions that were needed to realise the next evolutions of the technology that was already there…things that were being explored as new models of care, suddenly overnight went to scale and delivery. The big changes here were the changes to the MBS and PBS to support virtual consultations under Medicare and fully electronic end to end prescriptions.

“Thirdly healthcare providers have innovated in how they deliver care to meet the challenges of COVID, including telehealth in primary care.

“Most importantly, consumers have been willing to adopt these new models of care delivery. In the first instance this was a workaround to COVID but some are now finding virtual modes of care delivery preferable in some circumstances.”

Dr Nic Woods spoke about the role that AI is playing in the growing digital health market

“By the end of this financial year, spending on digital health in the US is predicted to have increased by about 30 per cent from the previous year – AI related entities and startups are getting a lot of that investment so I think there is a confidence there that the AI industry is maturing.”

Dr Woods highlighted some of AI’s healthcare applications and also suggested that AI implementation in the field was more “grassroots” than some might assume.

“We are not trying to provide all these end-point machine learning models – we are just providing the tools, skills and knowledge so people can take advantage of these capabilities in ways that make sense for them.”

He also spoke about some of the obstacles in the way of making full use of AI in healthcare.

“One of the critical challenges here is we have to think about how these technologies work and how they support the clinical workflow.”