Australia’s healthcare systems are changing rapidly as the country seeks to combat an ageing population, efficiency problems and uneven service distribution.
A new Frost & Sullivan report said the global healthcare industry is in a state of “accelerated evolution” due to market forces and changing demographics. This is creating disruptions for traditional healthcare models and necessitating change in typical industry value chains.
“The balance of consumers has shifted; with public healthcare prioritised for those with greater need, necessitating a focus on cost-efficient healthcare delivery through shared responsibility across the value chain,” the organisation said.
According to the report, this is particularly noticeable in Australia, Japan, Singapore and other industrialised nations in Asia. These trends have resulted in an infrastructure transition towards home healthcare and outpatient surgeries.
“Australia’s healthcare industry is hugely affected by the political climate as potential regulatory changes significantly influence access and affordability of care,” Frost & Sullivan stated.
“The industry is constantly battling to build on healthcare delivery value, employment generation and infrastructure development.”
Australia’s healthcare industry is therefore tackling increasing patient populations, budget constraints and resource shortages. This makes efficiency a vital component in hospital management and effective service delivery.
Rhenu Bhuller, Frost & Sullivan’s senior-vice president of healthcare practice, said integrated care delivery is now becoming a top concern within the industry.
This includes providing seamless care across primary and tertiary centres, which is a significant challenge. The need for well-established primary and aged care facilities is also growing.
“This is changing the way hospitals review their operations, structure, roles, activities as well as their key measurements,” she told delegates at the organisation’s Analyst Briefing in Sydney last week.
“Traditional operating models are no longer relevant in today’s healthcare environment and healthcare service providers need to focus on areas where they have expertise and can create efficiency and value-based care.”
Healthcare providers must move across the value chain and encourage collaboration, partnerships and acquisitions to provide end-to-end service delivery, Ms Bhuller added.
Treatment, financing, pharmacy and lab services, and follow-on home care should be streamlined for maximum efficiency and resource allocation.
Frost & Sullivan highlighted three particular trends that are important for healthcare improvements in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
1. Home healthcare migration
Infrastructure congestion and ageing populations are creating a fundamental need for more flexible home healthcare services. Governments and providers are working hard to focus on forging appropriate strategies in this area.
“Through these developments, industry stakeholders are working towards the vision of smart communities where concerted advancements in healthcare as well as other industries will pave the way for the progress of society as a whole,” Frost & Sullivan stated.
2. Transparent pricing
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) recently highlighted the importance of closing the gap in health outcomes between indigenous populations and the rest of the country.
Frost & Sullivan indicated transparency in pharmaceutical pricing would be an important step towards providing affordable healthcare for under-served communities at the lowest possible cost.
This would affect “aggressive” pricing policies and profitability, which would encourage organisations operating in these areas to consider new strategies that benefit wider demographics.
3. Technology moving forward
Australia is now at the next stage of the medical technology adoption curve.
Frost & Sullivan noted that healthcare payments and reimbursements are increasingly linked to quality of care and clinical outcomes. These are tracked through therapeutic value ratings and cost effectiveness assessment tools.
“Physicians are now seeking ways to extract more value from existing systems and learn from best practice models from across the country and abroad,” the organisation said.