This morning I start the long journey back home to Seattle from my week long visit in New Zealand and Australia. Since this was my fifth visit to the region over the last 5 years, my Aussie colleagues joked that I shall be given citizenship the next time I return.
Yesterday we concluded a series of Clinical Leadership events in Australia that took us to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Each event lasted two hours and was attended by a spectrum of clinicians and clinical leaders including physicians, nurses, aged-care specialists, pharmacists, researchers, administrators, and a few of our partners. During the first hour, I provided a keynote in which I shared my perspectives on worldwide health and healthcare trends and technologies that I see as I travel around the world. Specifically, I shared information on best practices and how some of our customers are using Microsoft technologies to solve their business and clinical needs. Following my presentation, my colleague Dr. Simon Kos, Microsoft health industry solutions manager for Australia, reviewed the progress to date around e-Health initiatives and the Australian government programs supporting them. While our Brisbane and Sydney events were held at our Microsoft offices in those cities, our Melbourne event was special. There, we were hosted by the Australian Centre for Health Innovation.
The Australian Centre for Health Innovation (CHI) serves are a simulation and test bed facility where health providers can experience and evaluate the latest technologies. It also provides resources enabling innovators to demonstrate technological solutions that improve patient care. The Centre features a fully isolated medical grade network which is the first of its kind in Australia. This enables advanced equipment, software implementations and evaluations in a full health environment without any risk to patient safety or critical hospital systems.
Centre technology director, Frank Smolenaers, gave me a private tour of his facility prior to our event. The Centre features an operating theatre, emergency department, hospital ward, and clinical office environments. Each area has all the medical equipment you would normally find in a real clinical setting. In some areas, high fidelity simulation mannequins add to the realism and the kinds of clinical scenarios that staff can experience there. The Centre is a hotbed not only for innovation, but training. In its first 18 months of operations, more than 1200 clinicians and administrators from 56 health services and 13 government departments across Australia and the Asia Pacific region visited CHI to see demonstrations and evaluate health technologies.
I mentioned on a prior blog post that I sometimes encounter people who say we have too much innovation in healthcare – so much that we cannot properly evaluate it, let alone implement it all. Certainly a facility like CHI is helpful for the evaluation phase of innovation. At such a facility we can help determine if a new solution or device is clinically useful, safe, and efficacious before it is rolled out. More broadly speaking, I think healthcare often fails at implementation and widespread adoption of new technologies and solutions not because of the technology itself, but rather the cultural and behavioral idiosyncrasies of the profession. This may present itself as a resistance to change, especially to anything that disrupts the status quo. If ever we are going to solve the conundrum that pivots on care cost, quality, and access and the improved satisfaction of those both providing and receiving care, new technologies, tools, skills, and workflows will be essential. And most essential of all are the clinical leaders with the determination and drive to take us there.
Special thanks to Dr. Simon Kos, Microsoft Australia, and Paul Claxton, Microsoft New Zealand, for your leadership and initiative in putting together my visit this year with your customers, partners and clinical leaders in the region.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft