Health Department boss: ‘doing nothing is not an option’

Published in the Madarin this week is an edited version of the speech that Martin Bowles PSM the secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health delivered to a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum on March 11.

The speech covers the challenges facing health, such as government overlap, inefficiencies in the system and a need to reform systems such as Medicare and private health insurance to ensure they reflect modern Australia. It describes the string of parallel and complementary health reform processes that are currently under way to ensure that the health system remains sustainable for future generations.   Martin says "This work will mean new models for funding and delivering primary healthcare, particularly for people with chronic and complex conditions and those living with mental health issues. It will mean the reform of old MBS items — some long past their use by date and others illogical — so we can have a MBS that is both clinically and cost effective."

The speech highlights the need for cultural change and better data "All these reforms require significant cultural change — strategic compromise, not confrontation — a shift from the “us and them” mentality that has divided health for many years. They also require a shift to a consumer service model in which the patients’ needs, not the providers’ needs are at the centre of the system ... One of the under pinning cultural changes required is better data collection, analysis and reporting. We need to put data, analytics, evaluation and research at the centre of healthcare and our strategic policy thinking. We need to get better at sharing our data in appropriate ways."

You can read the full  speech at