‘Significant shift’ in state’s health reform

4 minute read

Queensland Health details some big changes at the AHHA Value-Based Healthcare Conference.

The reform division of Queensland Health is engaged in a “significant shift to the left” in a bid to change mindsets and refocus the state’s health system to one focused on value-based healthcare, including development of the Queensland Virtual Hospital and foregrounding of First Nations health reforms, conference delegates have heard. 

Professor Elizabeth Whiting, program lead of the Queensland Health reform office, told the AHHA Value-Based Healthcare Conference in Brisbane that community engagement activities undertaken during the development of QH’s 10-year strategy HealthQ32 had underlined serious concerns voiced by patients. 

“The clear message was that Queensland Health is a very fragmented system,” she said.  

“The consumer perspective was that Queensland Health was very reactive to healthcare needs, poorly coordinated across the system and that this often resulted in poorer outcomes and poor experiences for patients.” 

Professor Whitting said the “call for change was also clear – behave as a connected, integrated, proactive whole-of-health system”. 

“Queensland Health has not been behaving that way and it is still a challenge to think outside [the box] of what hospital care is about,” she said. 

“In the past we have seen disinvestment in health and wellbeing health promotion, and it is time to reinvest in that, to work with other healthcare partners to deliver more care opportunities in the community.” 

Successful reform will need buy-in from leadership across the state, Professor Whiting urged. 

“There is a desire for this reform not to happen in isolation, but for the whole leadership team to buy in to it,” she said.  

“There must be authentic partnerships and a leadership culture and governance support.” 

Damien Searle, QHealth’s executive director of the reform division detailed how the agency would “challenge mindsets” to make HealthQ32 – endorsed by the Queensland Cabinet six months ago – the path forward for the next 10 years. 

“We have a strong belief that HealthQ32 won’t be another document that sits on the shelf,” said Mr Searle. 

“We believe this will set the tone for the health system for the next 10 years. The question is how do we bring it to life?” 

Seven reform strategies make up the core of HealthQ32, including: 

  • Reform 
  • First Nations 
  • Workforce 
  • Consumer Safety and Quality 
  • Health Services 
  • Public Policy 
  • Research 

“We at the reform division are concentrating on what we call ‘big R reforms’,” said Mr Searle.  

“They’re hard to do, but we want to build some space into the system so we can think about how to make the health system sustainable over the next 10 years. 

“These ‘big R’ reforms must have whole-of-system impact. They are about engaging with primary care, aged care and disability care — not just acute care services.  

“These are very complex reforms that always require strong partnerships across government agencies. 

“We need to challenge mindsets and the way we’re currently working. We are shifting to the left because we need to set up the system for longer-term success.” 

Mr Searle detailed current projects for the reform division. 

Among the biggest is the Queensland Virtual Hospital, a collaboration between Queensland Health and Clinical Excellence Queensland. 

“The QVH picks up on gains made through the covid pandemic, where virtual services took flight,” said Mr Searle. 

“We are building a more systematised virtual healthcare system, including a virtual ED and virtual wards. It requires a lot of engagement across sectors.” 

Also central to HealthQ32 is First Nations health. The department is working on a project called TORCH, a planning fund for the delivery of services which meet the needs and priorities of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the Torres and Cape HHS. 

“This is a collaborative commissioning project which is about ensuring the community is involved in delivery of health services,” said Mr Searle. 

“Again, there are a lot of stakeholders involved. It’s complex and is challenging the way we have traditionally funded services. 

“Closing the gaps in health outcomes for First Nations people is very much at the heart of the reforms we’re working on.” 

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