The next big healthcare challenge: integrated healthcare that spans the spectrum – health, wellness, disease prevention, primary care and acute care – from GP surgeries and allied health practices to public and private hospitals and aged care facilities.
A landmark example of such innovation is taking shape within the masterplanned city of Greater Springfield.
Greater Springfield, located in the Ipswich local government area about 30 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, is a 2860-hectare greenfield development that will eventually be home to 130,000 residents.
Part of the development is Health City, a 52-hectare, purpose-designed precinct that aims to deliver health and wellness services “in a co-ordinated, integrated fashion to ensure patients receive a complete and holistic experience,” the city’s website says.
The precinct’s foundation tenant is the $85 million Mater Private Hospital, which comprises 80 beds, a day-surgery unit, four digitally integrated operating theatres, medical imaging services and a cancer-care centre. In 2016, retirement community provider Aveo also commenced work on a $1 billion, 10-hectare senior living development within Health City that will comprise 2500 units to be built over 20 years.
Designed from the ground up, the connected precinct will work to provide information flows through communication technologies across the entire facility.
Springfield Land Corporation’s chief executive of education and health enterprises, Terry Kearney, who is responsible for overseeing development of the Health City precinct, believes Springfield’s innovative approach to integrated healthcare will be watched closely by governments, policymakers and urban planners.
“What we are planning to have in Springfield is a microcosm of Australia’s health system – Springfield is the perfect petri dish for anyone looking at innovation in health public policy,” Kearney says.
“What we have at Springfield is a successful blend of government and private enterprises working hand-in-hand to deliver integrated health services in a way that we believe will become embedded in public policy thinking.
The dedicated health precinct will be complemented by “health hubs”, located throughout Greater Springfield, that provide a range of allied health services.
“We believe we can create an integrated health model that provides patients with a seamless service and we are well on the way to doing so,” Kearney says.
He says innovation in healthcare – in particular the provision of seamless, integrated healthcare – is a public policy challenge made possible by technology.
Through customer-centric design clinicians are able to care for clients across multiple settings thanks to technological integration throughout the precinct. For doctors this means access to all client records, including in room care and contextual information to make sure they are doing the very best for their clients. For nurses, this may mean working across different care settings within the precinct to deliver great care, at the same time as allowing for greater flexibility in shiftwork to suit lifestyle.
Kearney says the ideal healthcare model involves everyone having a much better understanding of their own health.
“Technology is critical for the creation of a new health paradigm that puts the consumer at its centre,” he says.
“We have an opportunity to redefine the future of healthcare in Australia,” he says.