Regular HealthBlog readers know that I often find symbolism in things that I see as I travel the world. In Japan it was a wooden bridge in a serene garden. In Switzerland it was the Swiss Army Knife. In Banff Canada it was a ladder reaching toward a star on top a Christmas tree. Here in Australia, I saw symbolism in a bronze sculpture of kangaroos that I came across in downtown Perth just in front of the Halls of Justice.
(Downtown Perth as seen from King's Park)
Some of the most progressive and innovative healthcare organizations in the world are often those that are perfectly aligned between those paying for healthcare services and those who provide healthcare services. Under the most ideal circumstances the recipients of care are have skin in the game. However, healthcare is a bit different than other industries. The balance between payers, providers and recipients of care depends on whether we are talking about private or public systems. Outside of the U.S., most healthcare is public.
The Australian approach to healthcare is centered on meeting the needs of its citizens. Administratively, the Australian system is very similar to the that of Canada. It is regionally organized and designed to meet the specific needs of the population within each geography. In Perth, Western Australia, government as the payer of healthcare and the hospitals, clinics and clinicians who provide that care are working hand in hand to build new facilities and plan for a future that leverages ICT to improve the quality and safety of care. They are also planning for a future where ICT is a foundation for provisioning care and services to citizens in entirely new ways.
This was evident in the meetings I had with officials who are charged with building a new facility just across the Swan River in Perth. That facility will be known as the Fiona Stanley Hospital. Scheduled to come on line within the next 5 years, Fiona Stanley will be a 600 bed tertiary care hospital and a center of excellence in Western Australia. The officials planning this hospital are thinking about healthcare delivery well beyond the walls of their new physical plant. They are willing to use everything at their disposal to build the kind of facility and services that will meet the needs of a growing and diverse population. That's where the kangaroos come in. To me, they represent how government in Western Australia, the healthcare delivery system and the citizens under their care are all moving in unison toward a better future; a future in which healthcare ICT will play an increasingly pivotal role.
This evening I've just arrived in Melbourne for meetings with government and healthcare officials tomorrow. Then it's off to Brisbane and Sydney before heading back to Seattle.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation