Imagine How the Health System Would Look if Consumers Were in Charge wrap up

Moderated by Professor Mei Krishnasamy, Department of Nursing/School of Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, we had a provocative and candid conversation with our panel members:  Susan Biggar, National Engagement Advisor at AHPRA; Matiu Bush, Design Integration Lead, Bolton Clarke; and Liat Watson, Consumer Consultant.

Our terrific evening was led off with Matiu Bush recounting a telling story about how a veterinarian provided support for and proactively followed-up on the owner of a recently deceased pet.  We can learn much if we know where to look and simply ask and observe.

There were so many insightful comments made and here are the salient ones:

  • A fundamental structural change needs to happen to the system: let true “empowerment” occur by giving people access to their own information.
  • We need to hear the consumer at every level. Let’s replace the current model with “real-time” consumer voices and feedback so we can realise the incredible impact of the patient experience.
  • People and patients who use the system have years and years of experience with the system. We need to have a way for these “lived experiences” to seep into the system at every level.
  • We heard the “Birkenstock” analogy: shoes designed by people who “get it” and loved by those who use them.  How do we get this innovation and this thinking engrained into the system?
  • We need to get comfortable with the duality of people’s perspectives: patient and clinician.  The system is too hierarchical and “hospital-centric”.
  • Let’s learn from the hi-tech sector – they’re already doing it. We need to create revolution in small clusters and change the balance of power.  Let’s have “geographical centres of marvelousness”.
  • And finally, “quality innovation” is an oxymoron in healthcare. Innovation is dying.  Let’s celebrate our failures and delve into why things fail and what we can learn.

In response to Mei’s last question of offering one piece of advice with which the audience could leave, Matiu, Liat and Susan provided the following comments:

  1. “follow your patient on social media – they will tell you how they really feel”;
  2. “the current Millennial and upcoming generations are already there and living their lives on-line. They access and assess information – they provide and expect rapid responses and blur the lines between being just being ‘consumers’ and becoming ‘co-creators’.  They now expect the same from healthcare”; and
  3. “make it your role to find out what the worst thing your patient thinks you do” and “connect, connect, connect”.

As always, we’re extremely grateful to our sponsor support from Slater & Gordon, hosted by Awash Prasad.  Thank you to the many people who attended and who posed wonderful questions and kept the discussion going.

Stay tuned for our next year’s events!