Policy makers, pathologists, and medical laboratory professionals in the Australasian region will not want to miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights from distinguished experts on how to develop strategies and approaches that will position your labs and group practices to survive reduced reimbursements and successfully transition to value-based healthcare

In Australia, as in the rest of the world, disruption is being caused by new approaches to delivering healthcare. A new conference featuring international experts will explore the impact of these changes on the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine. In Australia, the term “pathology laboratory” refers to what is called a “clinical laboratory” in the United States.

The conference, titled “Disruption in Health Care: Pathology Leadership and Innovation,” will take place in Sydney, Australia, on November 16, 2016. Co-hosts of the conference are:

• The Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB);

• The Australian Institute of Medical Scientists, IVD Australia; and

The Dark Report.

“The shift in focus to patient-centric, outcome-based care means that fundamental changes are happening in healthcare,” declared Chris Harnett, CEO of Sydney-based AACB, in a recent interview with Dark Daily about the upcoming conference. “The success of this transition will rely heavily on innovation in pathology and pathology leadership.”

Decreased Funding for Pathology Services Means Increased Uncertainty

In Australia, pathology and medical laboratories face an increasing workload. “However,” noted Harnett, “the government is not following through with additional resources. Budgets are under severe threat. The result is increasing uncertainty with regard to budgets, laboratory futures, workforce retention, and maintaining cutting-edge technology.

“We are at the point where we have to decide whether we are committed to maintaining a high standard of healthcare in Australia.”

Chris Harnett (above) is CEO of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB), based in Sydney, Australia. Harnett believes that “fundamental” changes are taking place in healthcare, and that the successful outcome of the transition will “rely heavily on innovation in pathology and pathology leadership.” (Photo copyright: LinkedIn.)

Chris Harnett (above) is CEO of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB), based in Sydney, Australia. Harnett believes that “fundamental” changes are taking place in healthcare, and that the successful outcome of the transition will “rely heavily on innovation in pathology and pathology leadership.” (Photo copyright: LinkedIn.)

According to Harnett, the Australian government is placing pressure on the use of pathology services. “Given that 70% of clinical decisions are based on pathology results, the strategy the government is pursuing is doomed to failure if the goal is to deliver high-quality, value-based care.”

Harnett characterized current policies with regard to pathology services as short-sighted. “Governments always judge for expediency, thus, the result is not always a balanced decision. It’s really about seeing the role that pathology plays in bringing value to healthcare.”

Harnett also pointed out that government policies are impacting the ability to attract and retain a quality workforce, and that a qualified workforce is critical to the ability to provide high-quality, high-value healthcare. “Senior scientists are concerned about career path,” he stated. “We’re not seeing the infrastructure build-up necessary for the long term.”

Know Pathology, Know Healthcare

Australia’s “Know Pathology, Know Healthcare” campaign strives to educate the public and policymakers about the critical role of pathology services. It is a well-known adage that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” And it is probably fair to say that pathologists tend to be low-key by nature. It follows that the significance of the role of pathology in value-based healthcare may be underplayed and overshadowed by more extraverted elements. “Pathology is not as visible an aspect of medicine as other areas, and the pie is not getting any bigger,” acknowledged Harnett.

It might not be unrelated that none of the politicians Harnett tried to contact about addressing the conference chose to accept. “If a politician sees value to them in an issue, they will participate. They did not value the role of pathology enough for them to attend,” Harnett stated.

“In fact,” he continued, “pathology is the engine room of healthcare. That means we have a great deal of work to do in driving up policymakers’ and the public’s awareness of the indispensable role of pathology in the delivery of high-value healthcare.”

That is why various organizations in the region have banded together to launch the public awareness campaign “Know Pathology, Know Healthcare” and have created a website to help people get involved.

Conference Will Focus Pathology Vision on Leadership and Innovation

“We can only achieve high-quality, low-cost care that has greater convenience and results in better patient outcomes within the context of the changing healthcare landscape,” noted Harnett. “Pre-eminent speakers at the ‘Disruption in Health Care’ conference will bring home essential insights that highlight the importance of a commitment to research, innovation, and a keen understanding and recognition of the impact pathology has on healthcare outcomes.”

The four essential themes of the Disruption in Health Care Conference will be:

1) Primary care in Australia;

2) Progressive research;

3) Innovation; and

4) The impact of pathology on healthcare outcomes.

Here are some conference highlights:

• In the keynote address, Robert Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report and Dark Daily, will give a global perspective on pathology’s role as the leader of healthcare innovation.

Dr. Gerard Foley, CEO of IPN Medical Centres, will discuss how factors such as changes in funding and regulation, increased competition, and disruptive technology, are impacting pathology services.

Marcel Dinger, PhD, Head of the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, will address the potential of genetic testing to change the diagnostic testing paradigm.

Paul Nicolarakis, CEO, Lorica Health, will present insights on how innovative approaches in analytics and financing could improve transparency, and change incentives to better drive fairness and efficiency throughout the healthcare system.

Shane Solomon, Managing Director, Telstra Health, will offer invaluable insights on how Telstra is building a better-connected system by investing in digital e-health solutions to make all medical data meaningful.

—Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information:

2016 Disruption in Health Care: Pathology Leadership and Innovation Conference

The Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists

The Australian Institute of Medical Scientists

IVD Australia

The Dark Report