Doctor Andrew Wilson has had a lifelong interest in improving the quality of our healthcare and the way it is delivered to the community. Currently responsible for building Medibank’s relationships with healthcare providers, Andrew shares his dynamic journey within the heath sector and why he is optimistic about our ability to manage the health industry’s challenges ahead.
What roles have you had in the health industry over your career?
After completing my medical degree I worked in the acute hospital sector for a number of years including a stint being in charge of a district hospital’s emergency department. I then completed specialist training in Psychiatry and have worked, mainly in the public sector, as a psychiatrist ever since. In addition to my Medibank commitments, I still work as a psychiatrist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney as part of an integrated adult mental health service.
In the mid-90s, together with a fellow psychiatrist and Medibank Executive Matthew Cullen, I founded High performance Healthcare. This business had the vision of improving access and coordination within the healthcare sector. Now a part of Medibank Health Solutions, it has grown to be the largest telehealth business in the region, employing more than 1500 people and answering more than 1.5 million health-related telephone calls per year.
I have also been involved in a number of Federal government initiatives around improving safety and quality in healthcare, especially within mental health.
What do your current roles entail?
I joined Medibank in 2010 following its acquisition of the telehealth business I founded. Since that time I have been part of the Group Executive and responsible for Strategy and Innovation across the Medibank Group. Most recently I moved into a new role responsible for Medibank’s relationships with healthcare providers including hospitals, medical practitioners and other health professionals as well as developing new initiatives in better integrated care for our members. Medibank purchases more than four billion dollars of healthcare services on behalf of our members each year so it’s important to ensure it is both high quality and affordable so we can keep our premiums low.
What has changed in the health industry during your career?
Technology has made a huge impact on healthcare in the last 30 years – driving amazing improvements in the care people receive but also pushing up costs. The strain on the system from chronic illness and our ageing population is increasingly visible as anyone who has visited a busy metropolitan emergency department recently would attest.
Despite this, I am an optimist about our ability to manage the challenges ahead. The potential for new technologies to make real cost effective change in the way we care for people and to allow people to live healthier lives is enormous. We believe Medibank can make a real difference in how healthcare is delivered for our members and also for the broader community.
What health issues are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about making the health care system more focussed on its patients and their families. This means better access, better coordination and safe and effective care when people need it. Whilst the care we receive from individual clinicians and hospitals is of the highest quality, real reform in the way healthcare is funded and delivered across our whole community is desperately needed.
What have you learnt about health as you have gotten older?
The more you can engage with patients and families as partners in solving their health issues the more successful you will be. The days of the doctor being on the pedestal are gone! The real work of healthcare is done in GPs’ surgeries across the nation and that is where we really need to focus our attention.
What is the best health advice you have received?
From my grandfather who lived healthily well into his 80s – go for a brisk walk every day!