HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

On the road toward better health in Australia

On the road toward better health in Australia

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IMG_0917 I’m writing this on the airplane as I wing my way back to the US from Australia.  I had hoped to file a report during the week, but our health industry team kept me so busy that I literally had no time.  Now, I’ve got 13 hours with nothing to do but reflect on everything I experienced and everyone I met over the last five days.

This past week we held breakfast events for healthcare executives in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne (photo) on the topic of chronic condition IMAG0070management. As I mentioned in my initial post from Australia, the newspapers  and broadcast media in the country are consumed with headlines about healthcare reform right now.  The Rudd government has proposed sweeping changes.  I did press and media interviews at each stop along the way, and in almost every instance the first question I got was about Australian healthcare reform and how it compared to the reforms recently enacted in America.  Of course the systems are very different with Australia having more of a publicly financed system (with income tax rates as high as 48 percent) compared to the private insurance approach being taken in America.  However from my perspective, in both countries the reform initiatives underway are focused more on how healthcare is paid for than on opportunities to truly transform the ways we deliver health information and medical services.

IMAG0073 At our chronic condition management executive breakfast events (Melbourne event venue in Albert Park pictured) I shared information on best practices from around the world.  We profiled healthcare organizations that have achieved new levels of organizational efficiency by adopting lessons learned from other industries.  We showed successful implementations of e-health initiatives involving on-line care, home monitoring and tele-health.  Australian audiences and the press were particularly enamored by Microsoft HealthVault and some of the ways healthcare organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic are using the platform to better care for patients with chronic diseases.  I hope we will find a way to bring HealthVault to Australia in the not too distant future.

Following our breakfast event in Melbourne yesterday I had an opportunity to visit Western Health. Western operates Sunshine Hospitalthree hospitals in the region.  At Sunshine Hospital, I observed how Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, and Performance Point are being used to create business and clinical intelligence dashboards of organization key performance indicators.  Some of our American hospitals should take note of this as they grapple with the upcoming requirements around “meaningful use” for electronic medical record systems. 

Of anything we talked about during our three-city tour, perhaps the most interest was over technology demonstrated by my colleague James Kavanaugh.  James showed something we call the Microsoft Clinical Document Solution Accelerator or CDSA.  It supports the creation and exchange of clinical documents with the standards-based terminology encoding, structure, and semantics of clinical documents.  The documents are both machine and human-readable.  They are viewable using XML-aware web browsers or wireless applications.  The documents can be made accessible on a PC or PDA and they are compliant with SNOMED CT, ICD-10 and HL7 CDA standards.  Microsoft Office Word 2007 and 2010 support the CDSA solution. 

The Australian team has developed some wonderful on-line resources on the topic of Chronic Condition Management.  You can also download a new whitepaper on the topic and explore an interactive chronic care model.  

IMAG0074 IMAG0075

In summary, I would like to thank the generous hospitality of our superlative health industry team in Australia; most notably health industry manager, Michael Gration (left), and especially our industry marketing manager, Renee Cathcart (right), for making this year’s tour, my fourth, so worthwhile.  Thanks for helping me spread the word on ways to improve health around the world through innovations in software and ICT. 

Bill Crounse, MD  Senior Director, Worldwide Health   Microsoft

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