US-based company Royal Philips has announced the publication of its Future Health Index 2019 report in Australia.
The report, titled ‘Transforming healthcare experiences: Exploring the impact of digital health technology on healthcare professionals and patients’, is based on independent research commissioned by Philips that highlights how Australia might accelerate the shift from volume-based to value-based care.
The report, which is now in its fourth year, discusses a range of topics, including how artificial intelligence (AI) can drive efficiencies in the healthcare system.
The data shows that while healthcare professionals in Australia are using AI for some tasks, it must move beyond patient and staff scheduling.
According to the report, 57 per cent of healthcare professionals have indicated they are comfortable using AI for this purpose, while only a third or less are comfortable using the technology to action treatment plans (33 per cent), or for diagnostic purposes (27 per cent).
“There is significant potential for AI to transform the healthcare system in Australia. To realise this potential, the use of the technology needs to move beyond functional tasks into spaces where it can have a more profound impact on both the healthcare professional and patient experience, including diagnosis and treatment,” said Matt Moran, managing director of Philips Australia and New Zealand.
“Technology has a huge role to play in supporting healthcare, and with technology comes better health outcomes. As Australia stands at the digital health tipping point, the deployment of these technologies to support cost-effective care with more accurate treatment decisions is central to delivering better value for the Australian health system.”
Other topics identified in the report relate to telehealth and empowering patients.
On telehealth, the report found 56 per cent of Australians say they are discouraged from visiting a healthcare professional even when they have a medical reason to go.
“While Australian healthcare professionals are more likely to say that their patients’ experience has been positively impacted by telehealth in recent years, healthcare professionals in Australia are less open to using this technology to bridge gaps in healthcare access most likely driven by a lack of suitable reimbursement models,” said Mr Moran.
“Broader healthcare professional use of telehealth is needed to fully unlock its benefits and improve overall patient care.”
The report also highlights the potential benefits of giving patients access to their own health data.
"Of Australians that have access to their Digital Health Records, over half rate themselves as proactive when it comes to their health," it says. "Those who don't have access to their record are less likely to rate themselves as such. However, people need to be clear on how to use their data, with a third of those who have access more likely to use it if they knew it could make managing their health easier."
“In Australia, while some individuals are hesitant, many want to be empowered and have access to their digital health records,” added Matt Moran. “The benefits of this access are clear with patients feeling more empowered and in control of their health journey.”