We humans are bless with the most advanced brains on this Earth. Our sub-conscious mind keeps our body functioning normally and in cases when it isn’t functioning to plan it regularly lets our conscious mind know when something is amiss. Therefore, if you are in tune with Yourself, it makes us aware that we may need to take some action beyond that which our natural survival instincts can deal with, like “seeing a doctor, if symptoms persist”. So who is in the best position to manage your health? You, Yourself!
In this read we view those aspects of our Health system which we are able to Manage ie. if there are problems with our Health Management system then its within our individual, group and social control to make it better by alleviating any problems.
At a Cross-Road
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OEDC), Australia has one of the best Health systems in the world, being relatively inexpensive and with us having above average life expectancy. With our aging population (of baby boomers, of which I’m one), our current Health system is undergoing serious growing pains for which a shift in policy and mindset is probably required. This is not a time for “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. Rather our Health system was designed to look after ordinary people from birth to death, not drop them off when they become old or cost too much! Yes, there are inefficiencies in our current Health Management system, especially in the delivery of care to the aged, our indigenous people, our poor and the growing numbers turning to our hospital system. Because of this, our OEDC status is rapidly slipping away unless we adapt our Health Management system to meet contemporary realities and needs.
What is the problem? Developing countries around the globe are facing major epidemics of life-style related diseases that too often evolve into chronic and complex conditions which consume most of our healthcare dollars and the time of our clinicians. These situations are what Yourself Helper calls “self-inflicted” conditions that are both self-preventable and self-controllable. Conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, addictions, alcohol disorders, pollution, etc. Others are more circumstantial situations that are not the blame of self but rather arise primarily as a result of our natural circumstances, like aging, mental health, poverty, homelessness, etc. Patients with these conditions require frequent admission to hospitals, and despite Australia having more hospitals beds per capita than most countries, we need more. Our public hospitals are clearly buckling under the strain of demand for beds, exceeding hospital bed capacity. The government’s Medicare system is funded to provide the majority of our primary care services. Today this system lacks the resources to stop the tsunami of Australians developing chronic diseases. We need a new health care model to extract far more from our available health resources and dollars and reduce expensive hospital admissions. The answer from a Yourself Helper perspective seems simple. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the government to invest more when their plans are to cut millions of dollars from federal support for state hospitals. So how do we keep more people from entering our hospital system? How do we place more emphasis on prevention, early diagnosis and prevention and treatment of potentially chronic diseases? How do we empower ordinary people to gain greater control of their own destiny and to undertake more self-help without being such a burden on our current Health Management systems??
What if we were to empower ordinary people with self-correctable, self-preventable diseases/conditions to help themselves solve many of their own problems and where necessary gain updated skills to support their life long journey of self-transformation. What if we were to empower our hospital professionals with digital disruptors that enabled them to triple the amount of time they spent with patients rather than being buried in paere-based bureaucracy. The material provided in the Yourself Helper website content is awash with contributions towards solving such health problems and gaining the necessary support for ourselves and hospital staff. What if we were to keep our elderly at home and provide them and/or their carers with access to new innovative forms of IT self-diagnostic tool from mobile apps, access to health care volunteers, visiting nurse practitioners and a return to doctor’s making home visits? These diaries are proven to assist ordinary people to become more mindful of their health and the situations and conditions that make negative contributions to their health and the general health of society in general. Ask our elderly, “where would they prefer to be looked after – in hospital or at home?”. Over 70% of our elderly would prefer to remain home when receiving age care services. Ask someone who has terminal lung cancer from smoking what adjustment they would suggest for others potentially facing the same chronic disease.
Besides, being in a hospital bed is bad for your health. Hospital accommodation is far from 5 star, the food is very ordinary and most importantly there is little or no opportunity for healthy exercise, causing you to loose condition rather than improve. Clearly, your own home is one of the best places from which to deliver care, unless the circumstances are so direr that the specialised skills and equipment within a hospital are essential to recovery. As discussed in an earlier Section on IT, if we were to shift more of our IT pre-occupation from the delivery of tactical IT gadgets and gimmickeries to more strategic applications, like aiding in self-diagnosis and improved communication between a (home) patient and specialist medical facilities, a better all-round home-based, community-based Health Management system would be possible. Such a shift would free up the strained resources within our hospitals, our GPs, etc where most ordinary people currently go for much of their health problems and issues.
IT Contribution to the Solution
I was fortunate enough be working with IBM in putting forward eHealth solutions to the Federal Government, to help physicians gain access to integrated patient data and thereby obtain a clearer holistic picture of their situation and provide incentives to achieve quality goals and taking responsibility for the patient’s well-being. In one submission we teamed with a Western Australian home nursing service (Silver Chain) who run a 500-bed virtual hospital. Our proposal was based upon a new health care facility model, which better integrated into a community where doctors visited the elderly at home rather than taking the elderly off to hospital to see a doctor, every time an adverse event occurs. Hospitals do have the advantage of being able to provide access to other health professionals, such as therapists and physiotherapists. But what if it were possible to push such services more into the community through gaining ready access via a shared economy social network utility supporting home-based health monitoring and tracking IT solutions, say incorporated from a mobile phone application or via a home computer website.
Palliative care specialist and 2013 Senior Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Maddocks puts it this way:-
“We’re now living in a society where there’s an increasing number of people with chronic diseases and those people live with their disease 24×7. You’ve got to start by saying what can we do to support that person who is living with a chronic disease, and that’s about training them in self-management (with) community support around them and soon. Then you say what do we do about supporting the carers of that person with a chronic disease? And you say what do we do in terms of the primary care system, both the community support system and the GP?.
The GPs are actually the third layer of the onion, not the centre of the onion, and then you get the specialist. It’s all about starting with the individual person who’s got the chronic disease.”
A Healthy strategy that includes a platform for home patients, volunteer carers, innovative eHealth technology, on-call specialists and GP home visiting is essential to improving the efficiencies of our current Health Management system. As a member of this aging population with both specialist IT innovation experience, years of caring for the aged & the poor and a RN wife in nurse education who is frustrated with the current hospital system, the proposed YourSelf Helper platform is our voluntary contribution towards a new Caring Model. The Model is based upon an innovative and strategic social network utility application (YourSelf Helper) and a personalised information Framework for Life (F4L) as a means to a new Self-help and Personalised (health) care model specifically geared for the inclusion of volunteer carers, as well, trained in its use.
What we don’t need are more government reviews into our Health Management system. We need for ordinary people to take greater responsibility for our Health Care Reform Commission, by embarking on a journey that does requiring more spending on Medicare but much less on Hospital care. A journey where savings from ordinary people’s participation in a New Care Model, will easily fund the necessary primary care infrastructure required to encourage ordinary people to register for various forms of self-help with their specific medical conditions and for “medical home” style support – often referred to as “Hospital in a Home”.
Saving Healthcare $Billions, one Patient & Volunteer at a time
“Hospital in the home” is beginning to flourish. A 2012 study published in the “Medical Journal of Australia” found “hospital at home” patients were 26.5 cheaper than those in hospital beds. They were also 23% less likely to be re-admitted. The quality of doctor and nurse health care was also deemed to be improved dramatically. A professional health person on average makes daily visits, delivering health care services in the comfort of the patient’s own home. Once a week visits from their doctor tends to suffice. For the rest of the time the patent is able to enjoy regular visits from volunteer carers and getting on with the rest of their life. Patients and volunteers doing their part to save the taxpayer money. “It awfully boring in hospital” is a typical response and “I do enjoy my independence being at home”.
Rather than take up a hospital bed for weeks on end, patients can check into their home ward. New technology such as telemonitoring and measurements using smart phones is growing in popularity. Still less than 2% of overnight acute care patients are treated at home. But the number has increased by more than 11% in the past 2 years. This year (2105) there are more than 20,000 “hospital in a home” patients registered in NSW. While the state and federal government ponder over $57 bill. cut in health spending over the 10 years from 2018, could it be that patient & :volunteer empowerment might over take this approach in saving taxpayers more than this through greater “hospital in a home” healthcare; with the advent of greater health care technology innovation and take up?
In the meantime, greater hospital resources with improved productivity aids could enable hospital resources to spend far more time devoted to patient needs for their help. Take for example a recent innovation of Matt Darling, a 42 years old computer systems engineer from Canberra. Matt’s awareness of our Health Management crisis in Australia arose from his experience watching his eldest 19 year old daughter’s 4 months fight with brain cancer in a Canberra Hospital, which finally took her life. During this period supporting his daughter in hospital, Matt observed just how over worked hospital staff were as they went through their various shifts. He became acutely aware how much time nurses especially spent on basic paper work – “drowning in oceans of it”. The ever growing complexity of our healthcare system has grown by osmosis to such an extent that it is estimated that Australian nurses spend less than a third of their time with patients. In his opinion the problems in hospital healthcare are systemic. “A very dedicated workforce is distracted from patients by a sea of paperwork. Its not very efficient, that’s not the fault of staff.”
Matt became awakened to the need to leverage digital disruptors associated with an IT solution that could take upon much of the manual paperwork in order to free up more of the valuable time of hospital staff which could be better spent on patient health care. Matt’s activation involved building a new career designing a software system that could do just that while also adapting to changes in health care and treatment. He formed a company called SmartWard and proceeded to raise more than $10 million in capital towards the development of a system of the same name – SmartWard.
Running on portable devises, desktop screens and bed-side monitors, SmartWard constantly recognises that a nurse has arrived at the bedside of a patient, automatically supplying the required data to the carer, prompting them into delivering particular services; like providing drugs in the right order, changing bandages, etc. It allows nurses to quickly enter information about their patients (such as test results) and follow pre-ordained treatment checklists; all tasks previously entered on bedside paper clipboards and stored in filing cabinets (for on-going access, security and privacy). A independent study conducted by Deloitte’s Access Economics found SmartWard had the potential to save hospitals as much as $85,000 from the annual cost of a bed. This is around the salary of an average nurse. More importantly, it enabled nurses to triple the amount of time spent with patients, at a time when Australia is looking at a shortfall of 80,000 nurses by 2025.
According to the Australian Productivity Commission, our sprawling $147billion healthcare system is forecast to balloon by another $260 billion by 2050, wasting billions through lost productivity. So why aren’t all our hospitals embracing digital disruptors and IT solutions like SmartWard? According to Matt its the classic lack of courage and entrepreneurialism amongst hospital administrators who firewall change and are often under pressure to maintain the status quo. Sunken costs tend to cloud judgements about the future generally and in particular about their legacy structures and IT systems. Their aversion to risk and concerns, regarding the associated costs involved in switching their large systems to new systems promising to save money, all becomes too great a constraint on health management productivity. Another key fear is having too greater dependence on IT systems; a valid concern for the need to have “fail-safe” IT solutions in place to sustain their 24×7 essential services. Such Disaster Recovery Systems (DRS) come at a significant cost and involve procedures current administrators are not familiar with nor experienced in.
In its 2015 December report, the OECD warned that the breakdown in Australia’s productivity growth was not the lack of innovation but a slowing in the pace at which changes can spread through the rest of the community. For example, Australia’s productivity shrank by an average of 0.1% a year between 2007-8 and 2013-14, compared to the long run growth of 0.8% since 1973-4. The pace of digital disruption is destined to accelerate rather than slow and likely to become particularly acute in the future. It’s the people like Matt Darling with skills at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and those that whose job depends upon human interactions (like nurses with great inter-personal skills) where the future of our Health Management lies.
Be Awakened to Your relationship with Health Management
In taking the next “Awakening” step, you begin to consider your unique health situation and your relationship with the Australian Health System. Are you on a path to also become a burden on our Health System or are you already a burden? How can you best help yourself to solve your current self-inflicted condition(s) and/or disease? How can you participate in supporting more of our aging population, those with addictions and health problems to solve their problems themselves. How can you best assist our elderly remain at home during their later years rather than also add to this burden on our Health System? How can you be less narcissistic and self-obsessed with materialism; all of which really doesn’t bring you happiness. Consider a more altruistic life where all these opportunities exist to live a good life in caring for yourself more and caring for other; a style of life which can bring you true happiness and a sense of wholeness about yourself?
To be part of this innovation, proceed to the next “awakening” step. Here you can ascertain how you might best participate as either a volunteer or registered patient in need of home care. You will initially be invited to answer some common questions and issues raised on our current Health Management problem and be encouraged to identify with your specific situation. Finally the questioning turns to the more important question of yourself as a social creature living in a fuzzy world of relationships with others, inextricably linking us to others – in our family, in our community, in our society and to even our spiritual connections and/or love of nature. You will reach the realisation that there is no need to wait any longer for government to implement all their (broken) promises on Health Reform because you can be empowered to drive it yourself; especially as a critical mass of the population choose to do similarly. The new social care model is about delivering significant cost savings and the provision of a more cost-effective, equitable healthcare solution with better outcomes for Australians all round.
Simply “click” on the “Health Management – Awakening” button below to take the next step in your self-transformation journey. Even if you already know that you are not now a burden on our Health System nor likely to be in the future, then you are a much sought resource as a possible volunteer for helping and caring for others that are currently or destined to be a burden. Better still, if you are an expert in this field you may be interested in updating or even owning the above layman and non-professional version of this Health Management “Awareness” material and all that follows. If you feel passionate and concerned about this particular big hard social problem, please participate in the “Awakening” step which follows.
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