Building the capability of the health workforce in an increasingly digital world. 

March 30, 2023

Tom Collins

Tom Collins is a Director at MedApps as well as a healthcare nerd and marathon candidate

It was excellent to attend the Industry Breakfast Event focused on building the capability of the health workforce in an increasingly digital world. 

Amanda Cattermole, CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) kicked off proceedings with a powerful speech that highlighted some telling statistics. One that jumped out was that we could be 100,000 Nurses short by 2025. She also discussed the shift in the digital health narrative over the past 10 years from a focus on privacy and security (it’s still a focus) to interconnectedness and getting the most out of your data. Another critical discussion point (which we also saw on repeat at the recent Aus Healthcare Week) was the digital health literacy of the workforce and the urgent need to remove friction and wasted time from the system. All of these set up the panel discussion nicely. 

As mentioned in the room a ‘kick ass panel’ was on stage. On the panel was Kate Quirke (CEO, Alcidion), Dr. Louise Schaper (CEO, AIDH), Petra Milnes (Director of the Office of the Chief Executive and CIO, eHealth NSW), Dr. Christina Igasto (CIO & CDHO, WSLHD), Prof. Melissa Baysari (USYD) and Dr. Anna Janssen (USYD) and was MC’d by Prof. Tim Shaw (USYD).

Prof Tim Shaw mentioned how staffing and capability challenges are amplified in regional areas with some remote primary healthcare services dealing with 300% staff turnover. You only have to look at job / careers boards around the country to see the growing number of clinical and technology roles being advertised. 

A couple of key themes or takeaways that came out of the discussion were:

  • Health services can’t hire their way out of the current staffing challenges. A focused, long term approach is needed.
  • Digital Health and Innovation investment is cooling and some of the great progress made during COVID is starting to revert back to earlier times. As opposed to continuing to push forward and innovate.
  • Using data and digital technology to transform the delivery of care is hard work. It requires a foundational understanding of the technology itself, but also strong leadership and a commitment to continuous learning in digital health.
  • All future models of care designs should have digital as a key enabler
  • Clinicians’ time is precious – industry needs to build tools that are simple enough for clinicians to pick up and use, with limited or no training. The old days of day long training sessions won’t work when staffing shortfalls are already putting strain on the system. Micro learning / credentialing and moving education back to the bedside for clinical skills is going to be critical. A number of frameworks are starting to emerge.
  • ‘Frameworks are useless without leadership’
  • Technology (e.g. ChatGPT) is evolving quicker than funding models. The way the law and clinical governance interacts with this quickly evolving technology creates an interesting dynamic for clinicians and leaders. Particularly as they look to incorporate new and emerging technologies into daily practice. 

One of the more interesting statements came from the crowd towards the end of the discussion. “As investments continue to dry up, how can we reduce duplication of investments across States, LHDs and facilities?” There was an acknowledgement that collaborating across areas is really hard and that providers need to stop treating each other as competitors. 

A great event in a continuing series. We’re looking forward to the next one. It was great to catch up with some colleagues as well. 


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