The state of digitalised healthcare in 2023

Health tech investment boomed when the pandemic struck, with new online infrastructure formed practically overnight, and telehealth and video consultations becoming the norm. With the peak of the pandemic past, this has since slowed, however, the promise of a digital future for healthcare still lives on.

As we enter 2023, the digitalisation of the Australian healthcare system will continue to accelerate. Leaders in healthcare are being urged to invest in modern technologies to support clinician burnout and help bridge the skills gap, particularly in rural areas.

Doctors and patients are demanding better conditions, with a focus on improving the digital patient experience and clinician satisfaction. Next year, healthcare organisations will need to ensure that the technologies they’re investing in benefit the people they’re supposed to, being healthcare professionals and patients.

Investment in modern technologies to improve clinician well-being

Tackling the ongoing burnout crisis among healthcare professionals continues to be a priority. The impact of the pandemic still rages on as backlogs continue and staff shortages increase. The pressure to see, treat and discharge more patients at a quicker rate is as present as ever.

As a result, burnout among clinicians is at an all-time high, putting both patients and those who are treating them at risk. In fact, overworked clinicians are far more likely to be involved in incidents where patient safety is compromised.

Moving forward, technology investments will accelerate to help alleviate some of the strain being placed on clinicians. Recent research from the RACGP (The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) revealed that 73% of Australian GPs have experienced feelings of burnout over the past 12 months. To address this, there is an opportunity to leverage speech recognition solutions that can reduce the administrative pressure on clinical professionals and enable them to work smarter and more effectively. These technologies are designed to recognise and record passages of speech, converting them into detailed clinical notes, regardless of how quickly they’re delivered. They enhance the quality of patient notes and afford clinicians more time to do what they spent years training for, treating patients. Following the adoption of Dragon Medical One in Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland, the emergency department experienced a 30% decrease in time spent on documentation and therefore gained approximately two minutes back per patient.

Closing the skills gap, especially in rural Australia

Closing the skills shortage will remain an area of focus for government and medical leaders, particularly in rural areas across the country that are greatly impacted.

According to the most recent statistics, around 7 million people — or 28% of the Australian population — live in rural and remote areas. Traditionally, it has been harder for these Australians to access healthcare services due to a shortage of healthcare professionals. Next year, we will likely see the government continuing to try and lure doctors and nurses to work in these areas. It’s a strategy that is already well underway, with the Albanese government announcing earlier this year that medical professionals who live and work in the most remote parts of Australia will have their HELP debt erased. This incentive is expected to attract around 850 doctors and nurse practitioners each year.

Australian healthcare leaders will hope to build on this, and we’ll likely see increasingly creative initiatives being introduced in an effort to close the skills gap and make healthcare more accessible to all. Further digitisation in the industry will be unavoidable and investing in modern technologies — especially those designed to alleviate the pressures on clinicians and other medical professionals — will be front of mind.

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