The problems with Healthcare

For the past couple of years I have been educating myself on the problems of Information Systems in the healthcare industry and watching and analysing the Federal Government’s My Health Record initiative. It used to be called the PCEHR and I’ve commented on it before (see the category)

I have also become Chair of the Health Committee of the Australian Privacy Foundation and have created a number of webpages on My Health Record.

In my APF capacity I tweet using @Health_Privacy

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite. founding director of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University said in an article in the SMH, “Finding scapegoats won’t make healthcare safer“:

“Some would be dissatisfied with the state government’s explanation that it was a “systems failure” that tragically killed one newborn baby and seriously injured another when the wrong gas was connected to an outlet in the operating theatre of a Bankstown hospital.

But, NSW Secretary of Health Elizabeth Koff was right when she said “we failed as a system”. It is systems, not individuals, that are responsible for devastating errors in complex organisations like hospitals. And it is also here that potential solutions lie.”


“Modern healthcare systems are perhaps the most complex systems humanity has ever built. In Australia, like most advanced economies, some 9.3 per cent of GDP is now spent on healthcare, that is some $180 billion a year, and about the same per cent of our workforce is needed to deliver care, some 600,000 people. For healthcare systems to deliver the right care to the right patients at the right time, every single staff member and consultant, every single computer, every single medical device and every drug must not only work as it should, but every person and piece of technology and software within this complex web must also communicate effectively.”

Taking a Problem Oriented approach may well deliver better, more effective and efficient healthcare outcomes in this very complex environment.

My intention is to become much more proactive in the healthcare space. I believe that many of the problems facing the healthcare industry scan be directly leveled at vendors, consultants and public sector managers who pay far more attention to simplistic solutions than to understanding their problems and how the solutions they implement need to reflect the a) difficulty of the environment, b) that it isn’t a good idea to just automate what’s there already and c) the solution will change the environment anyway.

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