HON BRUCE BILLSON: Welcome back to our second week of the Future Learning Course, looking at SME digital engagement. In the first week, we probed and we learn more about the way digitisation is changing the economy and that every business needs to be a digital business. We saw how a deeper digital engagement can open the door to more customers and delight them in new ways and power our SMEs to a more prosperous future. In week two, we’re exploring these themes more deeply. We’re having a look at how digital engagement can be a key part of the strategic focus an SME can bring to use digital tools to help power the vision for that business.
And you might not think a general practise clinic or a health hub is a business. But it is. It needs to pay its way, and it needs to delight its customers. Those customers are patients. It’s a deeply personal level of service, trying to support their wellness in response to illness. In that deeply personal service delivery mode, that is, a medical clinic and that relationship between a patient and the clinician, digital engagement can power that relationship to deliver even better health outcomes and a better experience for patients, really, the time they’re needing the best help they can get. Let’s learn more about that with Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, a pioneer in the field.
And he’ll show you how digital engagement is even transforming the ancient art of providing good health care. Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, Professor Haikerwal. Congratulations for the nation’s recognition of your contribution to health public policy and, particularly, the use of digital technology in patient care. A fantastic story, and here we are, in the west of Melbourne, in an integrated health facility. Tell me about the vision for this complex here.
MUKESH HAIKERWAL: Thanks Bruce. So we’ve been in general medical practise for over 25 years now. And my wife and I started in a single room. And this is our fifth site. We’ve merged with another practise in the area. And we’ve got 15 GPs on site. And we brought together other health disciplines in one place. So we’ve got a pharmacy, pathology, dentists, podiatry, psychology– psychology is a major issue in our area, of course– physiotherapy, exercise physiologist. And we also got a specialist suite, where we’ve got other medical specialists who provide services here as well. So it’s actually almost a one stop shop. But also it means that we integrate the care and we share the care.
And that whole share care model is so important in today’s world.
HON BRUCE BILLSON: And that’s where you’ve inculcated digital technology as a means of improving the patient experience, but also the interaction between the various clinicians that are part of the health care arrangement.
MUKESH HAIKERWAL: Look, absolutely. The wish and the aim is to go beyond the bongo drums to actually get a message across the building. The good old phone was something we’ve used for generations. But of course, we do have digital technology now. We do have email. But it’s got to be secure. And we do have other message senders. But they’ve also got to be compliant with our privacy legislation, which is very strong in the medical place. So there are things tripping us up, but we’re getting there incrementally, step-by-step.
And the use of technology is absolutely vital in everything that we do, from the moment people decide around where they want to seek our help and booking, booking online to be received here. Also, they can do that on a booth. And being seen, we now use technology in every single consultation. General practise has enabled up to 97% of GPs use computers for clinical purposes. That’s not so in the out of medical general practise space. Pathology, radiology absolutely do it. But other specialties don’t. And allied health and nursing is particularly slow. But we need to get everybody to be able to communicate electronically, seamlessly, privately, and securely.
HON BRUCE BILLSON: And it’s well beyond just the health records. You talked about, even, mental health conditions, co-morbidity, multiple conditions being managed by multiple clinicians, all needing to synchronise their effort. Can you explain how the digital engagement you’ve embedded in this complex supports that for the benefit of the patients?
MUKESH HAIKERWAL: It’s absolutely important to mention that, in Australia, the issue of health and welfare will tell us that one in two Australians, one in two, have got a chronic condition. They will not say that they have, but they do. Whether it’s blood pressure, or asthma, or diabetes, or mental illness, that’s all counted as chronic disease. If you go to more than two, 20% of Australians have at least two. So it’s a massive problem. And so what we’re dealing with here in general practise, nowadays, is not coughs and colds. That’s all passé. We deal with chronic and complex care with patients with multiple conditions with increasing levels of complexity that we actually deal with here.
So to do that, we need to deal with the hospitals, not one but many hospitals. Pathology, not one but many. Radiology, not one but many. And then the other specialists that they are looking after them. So with a diabetic person, you’ve got the diabetologist, endocrinologist, the kidney doctor, the heart doctor, the eye doctor, and sometimes the vascular surgeon, for instance. And then they’ve got their allied health people looking after them– diabetic educators, our nurses, the general practise nurse, podiatry, physiotherapy, dietitian. And the list gets larger and larger. And so the complexity is not just the patient’s individual care but then coordinating that care and our role in helping them do that.
So using digital technology, absolutely central to make it happen.
HON BRUCE BILLSON: So rather than them bringing all those strands of care together, your digital engagement approach helps facilitate that. So you have a whole of wellness picture of your patients. And interestingly, though, that would support their care. But you’re also empowering your patients with things like booking times and who they need to see. Can you just talk a little about that?
MUKESH HAIKERWAL: It’s very important that the new way of doing medicine, the new way of doing health, is very much more patient centred. It’s been talked about forever. It’s not hidden meant. And what we’re doing is bringing meaning to that. So you and I are all patients here. And we want to be in charge of our own health care. When I used to chair the World Medical Association, one of my colleagues would say, I want to be the CEO of my own health care. And that’s really what it’s all about– who am I seeing, when I want to see them, on what terms and when, and how can I adjust that.
And how do we make sure that when I do a blood test for doctor A, doctor B, C, and D get it. So I don’t have four holes in the arm in the week before I go through my various appointments.
HON BRUCE BILLSON: So it’s a really positive health care management approach but really improvement for the patients as well. Obviously, a person’s wellness is a very personal issue. How have the patients reacted? And what have you done to make sure they are confident that the knowledge that’s brought together through your digital engagement is then used for the purpose that they are happy with and have engaged and authorised?
MUKESH HAIKERWAL: Well, patients have been with us for the journey. So I’m now seeing people who I knew as kids, and they’re bringing their kids to see me. So it’s actually a bit of trust that actually oils those particular wheels as we try and move our practise and the provisioning of health care into the 21st century and beyond as we used digital information and technology. I’m actually running a project from Deakin here on e-health literacy. And that’s fantastic because, if we’re going to use these products, we need know what do people understand by it. And if they are using it, what are their concerns about it? And how do we allay those?
And how do we make sure we enhance the care but also protect them from privacy point of view and from a confidentiality
point of view 00:08:10.640 –> 00:08:12.620 align:middle line:84% and make sure that the information is there
when they need it? So they can access it, and they can share it. If we want to use technology and we are using it in anger, we’ve got to make sure that technology is useful, has utility, and has some benefits to individual users, both us as providers but also for patients who are going to benefit from joined up care. Good information about the patient, that is, got good provenance, so you know who’s done it. And you can trust it. And you can act on it. So that information is more than an aid memoir. It actually enhances our patients journey. And it, hopefully, has that whole escalation pathway embedded.
So that, if something goes wrong, you’re starting from the level of the ladder that you were on, not back at square one all the time, which is usually what happens when you go and seek care.