Simon Terry

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How Do You Support the Health System?

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I recently posted about How to Start a Change Movement. That post was picked up in the UK by the team working on change and transformation in the NHS. I have a strong interest in healthcare given my last role leading the HICAPS payments business here in Australia. I saw first hand the efforts to drive change and improve healthcare in Australia and the opportunities to do more.

Through these interactions, I became aware of the NHS’s fantastic initiative NHS Change Day and its Australian counterpart, Change Day. Both initiatives ask people to make a simple pledge of one thing that they can do to help improve the quality of health care, aged care or disability services.  

The goal is accumulate a huge volume of all those small changes to deliver large scale improvements in the health systems.

Why does it involve me?

Many people might be tempted to view improving health care as somebody else’s job, even if they work in the healthcare system. After all, the government plays a major role and there are lots of big institutions, like hospitals, healthcare businesses and large corporates. Healthcare is a large and complicated industry with real expertise and deep technical knowhow.  Why isn’t making it better a job for others?

However we have seen examples all around the world that experts find healthcare hard to improve.  

Healthcare is a system. In other words, it is a complex network. A network cannot be changed by a hierarchy flicking a change switch.  Networks need the influence of all the participants to drive change.

The members of the Healthcare network include:

Payers: Private individuals, Government, Health insurers and other social insurance schemes. Political decisions, regulatory rules and a raft of other policy considerations play a large role in the money available, way care is delivered and costs of care that is provided

Providers: These are the people we usually think of as the healthcare system but they aren’t one agent. A hospital is a large network of people working together to provide care and provide all the supporting services. When you extend to all the other forms of care required to treat well a huge range people operating in all sorts of ways collaborate as a network to provide care.

Patients & their communities: Healthcare outcomes are influenced by the life an individual leads and the people who support an individual before, during and after their care.

You:  You will likely fall into one of the above categories today or in the future. At some point you will need to engage with the healthcare network.  Even if your own health is perfect, you have others in your community to consider. 

For great care to be provided all members of that network have to work in concert to produce better outcomes. Every member in a network can contribute to better outcomes. As we see again and again, efforts to work on one part of a network, can have complex ramifications across the whole system. For example:

  • access to basic primary care services like General Practitioners can reduce stress on emergency care
  • failure to invest in preventative care, the right support during treatment or support for recovery can drive poorer lifetime health outcomes
  • funding decisions in one part of the system can shape patient and practitioner behaviour in other areas as money and activity changes
  • something as simple as having someone to talk to or getting a chance for some extra happiness can improve health outcomes

Improving healthcare is difficult, but it can be done. The complexity means we need to extend the conversation and engage a broader range of people in the change. That change benefits us all. Because it is a network, we all need to play our role to see benefits flow.

Get involved – Make a Pledge

Take the time to consider the ask of either the Australian or the UK Change Day programs. They are targeting 50,000 and 50,000 pledges respectively.  

They need your help. All they want is for you to choose to play a small role in the healthcare network. One little commitment will be a start.

Join in the movement for change for the better in healthcare. Be an active member of your part of the healthcare network. Join in the action.

Do what you can do best. The healthcare network will be better for it.

And because networks need good communication and great stories, spread the word. Tell others about Change Day and why they need to get involved in improving the network for all of us.

That is one part of my pledge.


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