Getting the best from our healthcare system is one of the great challenges for any government, state or federal. As costs continue to rise and services are inequitably provided, especially for rural and remote Australians, governments and health service planners need to constantly look at new areas to find efficiency and build professional development.
University Health schools and research programs need to return to the formerly close relationships they had with our professions, to translate innovations into contemporary practice and education.
The spending on healthcare in Australia has risen 74% in the last ten years. In real terms that means what used to be 17% is now 19% of our growing GDP (and rising fast). This is because we expect more from our healthcare services. This equates to more expensive tests, greater access to more advanced technologies and more choices for an ageing population.
Research, training and practice working closely
For health professions to address these challenges we need research, training and practice to work much closely than ever before, to provide better integrated models of care and translation of research findings into improved clinical outcomes for the community at lower costs.
We need the innovations, which will bring down the cost of healthcare, to be broader than just hospitals. Technical and medical breakthroughs need to be complimented with new business models for providing health services and professional training.
As a young health researcher in the 1970s I worked in hospitals where I learnt the natural advantages of cross-disciplinary interaction to improve clinical and research outcomes. The bringing together of different skills of the various professions needs to be embedded in all health professional training programs.
This can’t be done solely through statements or conferences. We need to be physically close to each other with our laboratories, clinics and offices so that real interaction, consultation and learning can take place.
Squeezed between rising costs, higher patient expectations and the nation’s demand for more health workers, our clinical partners are finding it difficult to maintain the interactive relationship with research and education providers.
However, it is critical that the balance is restored and professional training and research remain central to improving healthcare outcomes and innovations.
In Queensland, the co-location of the Griffith Health Centre and the Gold Coast University Hospital within a comprehensive Health and Knowledge Precinct, will make a significant contribution to maintaining this balance via improved training facilities and increased staff from a wide range of professions, including research.
Only by rebuilding the research and teaching relationship between universities and our clinical institutions and emphasising multi-disciplinary training for health professionals, will we get to the start line to challenge the rising cost of healthcare.
Griffith University is launching a suite of new initiatives under its three year ‘New Griffith 2013-2016’ program, signifying an intense period of change and innovation. For more information: http://www.griffith.edu.au/newgriffith