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A new era in Medical Administration

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#RACMA2019: How technology is shaping the world of medical management

 A new era in Medical Administration

The annual RACMA conference is a highlight on the Medical Administration calendar and this year’s #RACMA2019 in Adelaide did not disappoint. With an overarching theme of Medical Leadership in the New Age, discussions and debates focused on how the latest technologies, AI and robotics research are shaping the world of medical management and leadership.

We talk to Costa Intzirlis, Wavelength’s General Manager of Client Solutions, who attended the three-day event, about the sessions he found most valuable and the challenges facing a new era of medical administrators.

'Medical Leadership in the New Age' was the overarching topic for this year’s RACMA in Adelaide: what key themes evolved from this?

The first theme was the ongoing maldistribution of Doctors and medical practitioners in regional and rural areas. Unfortunately, this is a chronic issue and there were many thoughts around how we bridge this gap. Should we be encouraging Doctors to spend more time regionally? Or should we be embracing technology more widely to help improve patients’ access to care?

This then led to the second theme around technology, risk, and responsibility. Several speakers talked about the positives of digital health but also the negatives. The question of whether risk lies with the programmers, the IT providers or the practitioners was very much open for discussion. 

Who were your standout speakers?

The final keynote speaker of the conference was incredibly inspiring and particularly noteworthy. Dr. William Haseltine is a Harvard graduate and very well-known in the US. Many years ago, he was tasked with the responsibility of turning the NYU Medical Centre around from a massive loss-making facility to a world-class institution. He talked about the huge impact medical and clinical leaders can have during their careers and his insights were fascinating. Dr. Haseltine’s book World Class: A Story of Adversity, Transformation, and Success at NYU Langone Health provides universal lessons for policymakers and leaders in healthcare and beyond.

I also really enjoyed listening to Dr. MaryAnn Ferreux (Director of Medical Services), talk about what Hunter New England (HNE) in Newcastle is doing to improve Doctors’ wellbeing and in particular managing fatigue. One of the initiatives included a 12-month portable sleep pod trial for Doctors, promoting short naps to boost productivity and minimise clinical mistakes. According to Dr. Ferreux, feedback from the trial has been overwhelmingly positive. This session was particularly interesting given burnout and fatigue among junior doctors has been of great concern recently.

What were your thoughts on the panel session AI: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

This was a really thought-provoking session with big discussions around the specific role AI should play in the provision of medical care. What stemmed from these discussions was that if AI is the future of medicine, where does the responsibility lie if there’s a malfunction? Is it the platform’s responsibility to be accurate or the Doctor who’s administering the medical care? The general consensus was that it was a shared responsibility. The IT platform provider needs to be responsible for the integrity of the platform and Doctors need to make sure that it’s being administered and followed up accurately.

What were your key takeaways from the conference?

Overall it was really impressive to see a group of 300 passionate medical and clinical leaders all in a room together and genuinely interested in improving healthcare services. As well as demonstrating an appetite to look outside of the box for solutions to address current challenges, there was also a desire to strengthen and advance medical leadership in the face of technological advancements.

Regarding skills shortages, the issue of maldistribution is an ongoing cause for concern which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. There was a talk by Nic Woods during the panel Futurism and AI where he mentioned in Queensland alone, there’s a current Doctor shortage of around 1,500. This figure really brought home the urgency of the skills shortage situation.

I also really enjoyed the discussions around the use of robotics in hospitals. One example included the use of robots trying to lift patients' moods. There’s so much innovation now around robotics and patient care, and some great solutions came up throughout the conference.

It was really valuable to catch up with some of our longstanding clients. We had some good conversations around current needs as well as more long-term workforce strategy requirements. We continue to work as a trusted partner and had some really positive feedback.

If you would like to continue this conversation or need assistance with your medical workforce strategy, please contact Costa for a confidential discussion: cintzirlis@wave.com.au or call 02 8353 9088. 

If you’re a Director of Medical Services or Medical Administrator interested in supporting patients in rural and remote communities, register with us and one of our medical recruitment consultants will be in touch.