299010329_640ACHSM / ACHS Asia Pacific Congress in Brisbane (26-28 October) gave strong recognition to creative networks of collaboration and cooperation within the themes of “Health leadership; making things happen”

Kevin Hardy, Paul Ingle and Rhodie Miller attended this year’s ACHSM / ACHS Asia Pacific Congress in Brisbane. With strong themes of “Health Leadership; making things happen” Congress afforded a valuable opportunity to meet up with so many health leaders who are making a real contribution to driving change in a positive and creative way. As a team, we share some of our take-aways from Congress:

There were stories told and experiences shared that strengthened the notion that the health and vibrancy of societies depend on networks of people and organisations across private, not for profit and government. Not just the traditional networks of peers, but also more broadly with community partners and non- traditional relationships – “We have to hand together or we will hang separately” – Benjamin Franklin. Delegates sought input from information rich experts and practical pointers for the coalface.

People spoke of the growing understanding that the time is now to close the core leadership gap for the future. That leadership for the future requires people who are courageous and creative, equipped to think, lead and act with non- traditional partners. Leadership that will have the courage and vision to resist short term approaches and thinking, and in place, adopt a longer term view and plans to get there.

Quality and safety was another strong theme with some provocative thoughts from Professor Sir Ian Kennedy Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Committee in the UK. As an academic lawyer, he has contributed to the establishment of medical law and ethics as a discipline in its own right. Professor Kennedy said that unlike some industries health doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes in quite the same way other industries do. He gave the example of oil companies like Shell engaging in the complex process of extracting oil off shore all around the world – and all the processes in between – to the point it comes out of a pump at a gas station. He went on to say if they make a mistake that results in harm or loss of life, including to flora and fauna they almost never do it twice. Yet in hospitals (was speaking from a British perspective) there are countless reports and reviews that similar or the same mistakes are made repeatedly and we almost accept that as being okay or even the norm.

Professor Peter Pronovost, Director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at John Hopkins, as well senior vice president for patient safety and quality, John Hopkins Medicine is a practicing anaesthesiologist and critical care physician who is dedicated to making hospitals and healthcare safer. He says that “Quality is not negotiable and the mistake target should be zero.” He spoke about cultures that found it acceptable that there will be some deaths due to infections and distressed parents wanting answers as to why their child had died. “We have to stop this. We should not accept that people will get infections and die.”

He talked about the changing the narrative and nature of the relationship between health and patients. A view expressed that when we talk about the patient experience, putting patients at the centre when we’ve already got it wrong on the basis that using the term patient means we’ve already relegated it to a medical and clinical type relationship and transaction. The term should be people, who at times need service or care.

There were some great examples of a successful Big Bang approach to introducing digital health in and across hospital sites and the huge potential it is to safety and quality including early detection and monitoring of possible adverse clinical events, reductions in admissions and improved patient flow. In effect, creating Digital Hospitals.

An example is the full digitisation of the Princess Alexandra Hospital at Metro South Hospital and Health Service. Their Digital Hospital project, is on track as Australia’s first large scale hospital to go digital. Conversations outside of the presentations were rich and valuable. Congratulations!