2024 healthcare trends and innovations
Change is coming to healthcare in Australia. While we enjoy a world-class health system, greater innovation is needed to ensure everyone across the country can continue to access quality, affordable healthcare. Our leaders share their thoughts on what we can expect in 2024.
David Koczkar – CEO
We’re beginning to see some great transformation occur within the health system but it needs to move faster if we are to meet the needs of all Australians both now and in the future. When it comes to healthcare, the saying that the whole is greater than the sum of parts has proven itself over and over again. There is a huge opportunity to tap into the potential offered by the different parts of the health system working better together and these types of partnerships will be key drivers of innovation across our system. Think new approaches to home and community care, further advances in virtual health and a reimagining of the role of primary care, including GPs and allied health professionals to better support patients with chronic and complex conditions.
Kylie Williamson - Data & Technology
Increasingly, technology is being used to make healthcare much more patient-focused and enable people to receive the right care at the right time. One of the most exciting trends we’re seeing internationally is care orchestration - using technology to better coordinate the healthcare journey for patients and reduce the need for them to try and manage the complexity and fragmentation that exists within the health system. Adding to this is the evolution of personal diagnostics and monitoring technology, which can support much more sophisticated forms of care in the home and community. And while artificial intelligence (AI) is already helping transform healthcare, such as its use to enhance diagnostics, the focus on the much-hyped generative AI will turn to the practicalities of responsible use of this technology, so expect to see it find a place as a tool to support employees’ decision making and improve their productivity, among other uses.
Rob Read – Amplar Health
Prevention programs delivered at scale by utilising technology will improve the health of Australians, take pressure off the primary care and hospital systems and transform healthcare in Australia. This shift from reactive to proactive approaches to healthcare will be a strategic priority for providers in 2024, a reform that will result in a healthier country and relief for our health system. The use of virtual assistants to deliver care in the home is also taking off internationally, and we will see a rise in their uptake over the next year. This technology can help clinicians by providing advice on treatments, diagnoses, and medications. It can also help patients by answering questions about their care and connecting them with the information they need to make more informed decisions.
Kylie Bishop, People, Places & Sustainability
While unemployment in Australia is at a near 50-year low, employee trends and a stronger employee voice about what’s important to them will continue to drive the market. It’s how employers respond to these trends that will differentiate organisations as they compete to attract and retain talent. People are increasingly wanting greater flexibility, autonomy and transparency from their employer, and rightly so. Workplace flexibility will continue to be a hot topic and true flexibility will be a big differentiating factor in people’s decision making to stay, leave or join an organisation.
Another growing trend is employee health and wellbeing. Increasing rates of burnout and stress are impacting how organisations think about wellbeing programs. To remain attractive to talent, organisations will need to look beyond the obvious health and wellbeing initiatives and tackle the system of work and the way they work to proactively to build healthy workplaces. We’ll also see a greater shift to autonomous or self-managed teams as organisations encourage more generalist skills and celebrate mastery across a number of capability areas. Related to this is how organisations adopt technology and address the widening skills gap that exists as tech changes so quickly. This will impact how organisations upskill across a wide range of industries and jobs. Importantly, people continue to seek a strong connection to purpose and want to feel as though they are making a meaningful contribution to their community. Ultimately, a business’ vision, purpose and culture will continue to be at the heart of people’s decision making.
Meaghan Telford – Policy, Advocacy & Reputation
Innovation will continue to play a critical role in health policy. Ensuring healthcare consumers are the drivers of change is fundamental to improving our health system, but if we are to meet the expectations of our community then we need to embrace change at a faster pace. Great progress has been made with the adoption of new care settings such as virtual hospital and short stay, which gives patients greater choice and control, and creates greater capacity within our health system, and there is no doubt that we need more of this. But we need multi-faceted change.
Primary care is the gateway to our health system and in 2023, Medibank increased its ownership of Myhealth – because we believe that through increasing our commitment to primary care, we can contribute to creating a healthier community. Myhealth is now working on a project to reimagine primary care that covers both the policy area of prevention (key to unlocking better health outcomes) and greater healthcare productivity. This is in line with the recommendations from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce report and will run parallel with the government’s rollout of MyMedicare. Innovations like these are required to create the shifts that will matter in healthcare – to improve health outcomes for consumers, and deliver the improvements to the system that are much needed.
Milosh Milisavljevic – Chief Customer Officer
Consumerisation of health is an important shift that will improve access, affordability and outcomes in health. We know that more engaged and empowered people do a lot better in every part of their health. Through the pandemic we experienced a significant acceleration in consumer engagement as virtual health and digital health took a big step forward. While nationally virtual health has rebounded a bit, the more demanding health consumer is here to stay – and we will all benefit from that.
Critically, we’re working with more and more partners that share our ambition of increased consumer empowerment and are seeing the significant benefits to customers and the health system from accelerating this trend. In addition, we continue to invest in digitising and connecting more of the health experience, which when matched by more sophisticated analytics results in much more personalised and engaging experiences for people. These drivers are only growing, and we would expect to see another big step forward in health consumerisation in 2024.
Rob Deeming, Digital & Ventures
It’s always interesting to look at behaviours taking hold on the edges of society, and one such trend – that even has its own name – is the Quantified Self. Essentially this describes how many of us are investing to learn more and more about our state of health. For some consumers on the edges, this is translating to $20,000 body scans and extensive genetic profiling, but even in the centre more than half of us now regularly wear a device that tracks our health data. The aspect I find most interesting is what happens to all that data – today that data is used predominantly for comparing performance in some form or another. But the opportunity is there for health providers – including Medibank – to tap into this data to better support Australians with their health. This of course raises lots of important questions about privacy, data ownership and sharing, and we’ll see companies take big strides forward here in 2024, including us.
Mei Ramsay – Trust, Legal & Compliance
People want to better understand what companies are doing with their personal information. As more businesses enhance their privacy training, processes and practices we’re also likely to see an increasing focus on data ethics – with businesses looking at their use of data not only from the perspective of whether it ‘could’ be done legally, but also whether it ‘should’ be done from an ethical perspective. As well we expect a number of proposed Privacy Act reforms to come into effect in 2024, such as providing clearer boundaries on the definition of consent, widening the definition of personal information and providing additional protections for children and vulnerable people. These reforms aim to strengthen Australia’s privacy framework and improve the protection of people’s personal information.