A fantastic couple of days at the 2023 12th Annual Australian HealthCare Week (AHW) in Sydney this week with Med App’s Duncan Paradice and Tom Collins.
There were great presentations and vendors showcasing the breadth of innovation that is occurring in the healthcare space. Like a kid in a lolly shop, there was much to see, hear and experience at #AHW. While the Australian Healthcare system is very much siloed in many ways, the AHW event brings it all together like a giant gift basket. The uniting of all sectors and areas under the banner of healthcare is great to see.
AHW presented a smorgasbord of options to choose from, yet getting around to see to it all presented a problem. With plenty on offer, the themed stages offered ideas, insights and learnings across Nursing & Midwifery, Aged Care, Digital Health, Facility Design and workforce. With so many great speakers, half the battle is choosing where to go!
As a nurse, I gravitated to the Nursing and Midwifery stage, keen to learn and hear from the impressive speaker list. No surprises, workforce was the hot topic on both days. In a time where the workforce challenges for healthcare are at a critical point, morale and fatigue at unprecedented levels, and the desire for different ways of working never greater, the presenters gave hope for the future of the workforce.
Overcoming the N&M workforce challenges
It was great to hear from the Commonwealth Chief Nurse & Midwifery Officer Professor Alison McMillan. Sharing her personal reflections of working through the COVID -19 pandemic, it’s clear how much it impacted everyone, at every level. Hats off to you Alison – being the CNMO during the entire pandemic must have been one of the most challenging and stressful roles in the country. The National Nursing Workforce Strategy in development at the National-level will hopefully help to shape the profession for the future. It will be interesting to see how health tech fits into this strategy to help with attraction and retention of the workforce.
Francine Douce , Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer in Tasmania, shared some great insights on the Nursing & Midwifery workforce strategy from a Tasmanian lens. Francine flagged “hard truths” that organisations need to consider and address in order to develop a sustainable workforce strategy. As Francine shared, a career at the bedside can no longer be assumed in the age of digital health. Nursing has certainly evolved over time, yet has such a long way to go.
One of those hard truths that all organisations face is the competition with one another to attract and retain the workforce. With everyone competing for staff – orientation, engagement, opportunities and wellbeing – along with pay and flexibility are going to be more critical than ever. For example, for sites using Med App to support their nursing graduates, we are seeing greater staff satisfaction and staff retention (for some sites, 100% retention!). This reinforces Francine’s point about investing in the support of the early career nurses and midwives to help boost retention and the workforce of the future.
What’s in a name? CNIO/CNMIO
Nathan Moore (CNIO at WSLHD), Naomi Dobroff (CNMIO at Monash Health), Maree Ruge (CNMIO at Metro North Health) and chair Kate Rezenbrink shared their experiences working in the role of CNIO/CNMIO.
As a role that is still being pioneered, the CNIO/CNMIO panel session unpacked some unknowns for the audience. The panel highlighted the value nurses provide beyond the traditional bedside role and the importance of advocating for the profession. A growing speciality in healthcare, the panel said Nurses and Midwives should consider a career in Health Informatics. Maree Ruge accurately called out, the future of healthcare and health tech is now. The time is certainly now for nurses and midwives to help shape the future.
An interesting concept was that all Nurses and Midwives are inherently “health informaticians”, managing clinical data everyday. I hadn’t really considered this before, but it reflects the vast skill set you need as a nurse or midwife. Nathan’s work on Virtual reality to train clinicians is also intriguing – the traditional boundaries of clinical education are changing. There is some excellent stuff happening in this space and you can also catch Nathan talking in the US at the Virtual Medicine conference.
On the topic of virtual…
Ben Chiarella from Ramsay Connect shared some interesting insights on the Virtual Hospital Health Service and the workforce behind this remote model of care. Ben’s reflections on the Brick and Mortar ways of working that exist in healthcare resonated with me. Similar to many others, I do my best juggle work/life balance and multiple commitments.
Ben posed the question – why does the workforce have to be so rigid? This is a question on the lips of most healthcare workers.
This certainly made me consider – why can’t we as health workers have more flexibility with hours? Does it have to be 8 hours, 7am to 3:30?? Perhaps a great debate topic!.
What is exciting though is how this remote model of care breaks down the traditional boundaries on the workforce. Shift work – no thank you. 9 to 5 not for you? No worries, Ben says! Sounds to me like things are headed in the right direction.
The positive impact of the Virtual Hospital Health Service, reducing unnecessary presentations to tertiary care is a great outcome!
Finally, It was also great to hear from Dr Bernadette Eather, Chief Nurse & Clinical Services Director at Ramsay Healthcare and Cindy Bell, DON – Workforce Planning from Metro North. Bernadette and Cindy both shared their insights and experiences in redesigning and reinvigorating the recruitment and retention strategies for the nursing workforce in their organisations. It is impressive to see health care leaders doing innovative work in this space to try and bolster a struggling workforce.
All-in-all some great sessions. Look forward to seeing more on these topics throughout the year at different forums.
Keen to learn more? – Read Tom’s blog about AHW Day 1
#ACW #innovation #nursing #midwifery