Held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney on 27-28 March, the free Healthcare Week expo will focus on future-proofing hospitals and workforce and will feature a dedicated aged care zone.
Dubbed the largest healthcare event in the southern hemisphere, the expo will include over 100 speakers sparking conversations around nursing, start ups, aged care, corporate services and more.
Among the speakers will be General Manager People and Safety at Perth-based aged care provider Bethanie, Luisa McKay, who will share her experiences in designing a strategic workforce plan in an aged care setting.
Ms McKay says exploring how businesses can adapt to their clients’ changing needs along their aged care journey, and the importance of understanding the skills of their current workforce will be focus points in her presentation.
“This area is a challenge for the industry,” she says. “There are multiple disruptive trends and critical drivers in the sector… for example our aged care workforce is ageing at a rate of 10 years more than the average age of the Australian worker.
“There is also a change of customer expectation… we’ve got baby boomers entering aged care and wanting a lot more from providers, plus ensuring providers comply with the outcomes of the Royal Commission and the new quality standards.
“Businesses need to make sure the skills and capabilities of employees will cater for patients’ needs now and when they are likely to change even five years from now.”
Ms McKay say she is looking forward to attending her first Healthcare Week.
“I’m interested to see what people in the healthcare industry and hospitals are saying and doing. I think that was one of the things that attracted me to speaking at the event - that’s it’s not just aged care businesses, but an event that spans across the whole healthcare spectrum.”
Rural Health Director of Medical Services at Western New South Wales Local Health District Dr Shannon Nott will also speak at the event, and says his presentation touches on how the elderly can benefit from introducing virtual reality health services in rural and remote areas.
Dr Nott says looking at technology solutions in healthcare is more than just setting up skype appointments for patients.
“We are talking about, what does it look like if someone has a horrible accident and presents to a small country town where the GP may not be trained in trauma management? We can look at things like utilising roof-mounted cameras in real time where an emergency specialist can be providing advice to a resuscitation team, or, how can we use technology to recognise a patient’s deterioration earlier?” he says.
“Also, how can we bring technology into the home to help professionals manage patients with multiple chronic diseases?”
Dr Nott suggests that geographic location is not the only factor that can limit elderly patients’ access to healthcare.
“Some elderly patients can’t actually get in the car or have family to drive them to the doctor, even if they’re only 10 or 15 kilometres away…. (integrating new technology) is about allowing elderly patients to access healthcare in the way they need to. For example, healthcare professionals having access to online records that outline how the patient would like to be treated.”
“I’ve seen a lot of elderly patients who say, ‘I want to be treated, but I want to be treated at home and I don’t really want to be moved to Dubbo, for example, or Sydney. So do what you can here and if that means I deteriorate then I’m happy with that. Because I would rather be home with family and friends’.
“This is particularly true for Aboriginal patients, in terms of being on land and on country.”
Dr Nott says he hopes his presentation will encourage organisations and individuals to embrace, rather than be scared of, technology advances in health care.
“The big takeaway message is really seeing technology as an opportunity to add value to face-to-face services. I think sometimes clinicians or health organisations can be risk-averse and hesitant to change, but for us to be able to innovate the field of healthcare and improve outcomes, we need to embrace technology,” he says.
“The banking sector, for example, has set it up so you have both (virtual and face-to-face) options available, so why should healthcare be any different?
“We need to give people the choice about how they access healthcare.”
Dr Nott says he’s looking forward to hearing from other presenters in the digital health space.
“I think there are a lot of benefits to healthcare professionals and leaders to learn lessons from other organisations, in Australia and internationally. It’s all about knowledge sharing, understanding that many of us have similar challenges and identifying opportunities for collaboration.”
Visit the Australian Healthcare Week website for more information and to register for your free expo pass.