In the last federal budget there was money allocated to the task of digitising health records allocated, and there was some pretty unedifying comment on the amount, the progress to date, and the implications on privacy.
Australian health costs are huge currently, and rising at a far greater rate than the economy expanding, creating a substantial emerging “hole”. Digitising this data, and making it available for improvement initiatives across our health services is imperative.
It is accepted that data is the first step on the road to improvement, without data, everything is speculation. Here is one of the greatest tests of public policy for the future, and we hide away from the blindingly obvious benefits that can flow from process improvement and innovation to protect existing vested interests, and unrealistic, unsustainable concerns about increasing the degree of transparency.
If the public sector was a business with a bottom line, and there was a competitive need to improve and change in order to survive, instead of a monolithic testament to the past, the efficiency of our current expenditure would be increased by probably 50%. Sounds unrealistic, but businesses that have effectively implemented real Lean principals into their operations and demand chains have found 50% is readily achievable.
Note that I have specifically indicated that the efficiency would increase 50%, and not that costs would be reduced 50%, although cost reduction is the corollory. There is a real difference, and the difference is the one that appears to separate the successful Lean implementations from the unsuccessful, because success in Lean is about behaviour change and productivity improvement, not slash and burn cost reduction. Reduction in unit cost comes about only when extra capacity, freed up by the elimination of waste, is used, and is effectively for free, as the piper had already been paid.