Philips’ Future Health Index reveals the vital role of technology to engage young healthcare workers – Inside Ageing

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  • Findings indicate 92% of Australian younger healthcare professionals believe that the right technologies have the potential to reduce their workload
  • 73% say they expect the adoption of digital health technologies to decrease their stress levels
  • 22% considered leaving the healthcare profession as a result of work-related stress
  • An overwhelming 87% said they are satisfied with their work as a healthcare professional 

Now in its fifth year, the annual Philips Future Health Index has today announced the publication of its Future Health Index (FHI) 2020 report: ‘The age of opportunity: Empowering the next generation to transform healthcare’ in Australia. The 2020 report is the first large-scale survey of the younger generation of healthcare professionals, capturing feedback from almost 3,000 respondents across 15 countries, including 150 younger healthcare professionals in Australia, and providing a unique perspective into how prepared they believe they are to manage tomorrow’s healthcare.

This year’s report reveals critical insights from this next generation of healthcare professionals under the age of 40, a group that will comprise most of the healthcare workforce over the next 20 years. The report reveals the gap between training and expectations around technological and digital healthcare transformation, as well as the reality of their experiences as younger healthcare professionals. The Future Health Index 2020 report offers guidance to today’s healthcare leaders on empowering this next generation of healthcare professionals to help retain and attract the talent needed to meet the growing demands of modern healthcare.

“Australia’s healthcare landscape is shifting dramatically. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen the accelerated adoption of innovative digital technologies that will both support health professionals in the field and provide improved patient outcomes,” said Matt Moran, General Manager Philips ANZ. “The findings from this report emphasise the critical importance of training for younger healthcare professionals on the digital technologies fuelling the industry’s rapid crisis response. The Future Health Index 2020 demonstrates the importance of a collaborative approach to technology, one that builds on the knowledge already present and future insights to come.” 

The Future Health Index 2020 report identifies three core themes and critical findings:

Reality of career does not live up to expectations for some
The research finds that for many younger Australian healthcare professionals (31%), the reality of their career either does not live up to their hopes and expectations or they are undecided. In many instances, their education has not necessarily prepared them for all aspects of real-life practice. In particular, key non-clinical demands of the role such as business administration tasks (e.g. billing, budgeting and workflow management), were identified by 57% of younger Australian healthcare professionals as an area where their medical education did not prepare them at all.

Despite data and technology being integral to their daily lives, personally and professionally, 63% of Australian younger healthcare professionals say they don’t have enough digital patient data to influence patient outcomes. Additionally, 47% do not know how to use the data to inform patient care.

Harnessing technology to help transform healthcare
Younger healthcare professionals in Australia are convinced of the potential of data and technology to improve both their own work experience and that of their patients. Australia’s next generation of healthcare professionals almost universally believe that digital health technologies will potentially reduce their workload, with 92% of respondents believing that the right technologies have the potential to reduce their workload. Additionally, 39% say portability of healthcare data between hospitals or practices would most improve their work satisfaction.

Challenged and frustrated with digital health
However, the next generation of Australian healthcare professionals also appears to have a mixed relationship with digital health, citing lack of interoperability across technological systems and platforms (33%) as a top barrier for their hospital/practice to adopt additional health information technology. Of the younger Australian healthcare professionals surveyed, 78% said sharing restrictions often result in incomplete digital patient data, compared with the 15-country average of 64%.

Yet, despite broadly discussed challenges and pain points, younger healthcare professionals in Australia collectively see digital health technology as a foundation to improve the delivery of care. In fact, 33% said that digital health records are seen as the most beneficial digital health technology for improving patient care over the next five years, compared to a country average of 25%. Younger Australian healthcare professionals also said artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient care by integrating diagnostics (23%), AI to optimise operational efficiency (21%) and AI to predict outcomes (16%) would be most beneficial for improving patient care during the next five years.

Leaving the healthcare profession as a result of stress
Younger healthcare professionals juggle immense responsibility with long working hours, leading to stress and potential burnout. Three-quarters of younger healthcare professionals in Australia (76%) say they regularly experience work-related stress and 22% report that they have considered leaving the healthcare profession as a result of this stress, compared with the 15-country average of 34%.

The Future Health Index 2020 report highlights a clear demand among this next generation of healthcare professionals for a work environment that fosters collaboration and offers flexibility. When choosing a hospital or practice in which to work, factors such as a culture of collaboration (79%) and professional autonomy (78%), are more important to younger Australian healthcare professionals than a strong record of patient outcomes (68%) or the hospital/practice’s reputation (59%).

For this generation of digital natives, technology also has an important role to play in motivation. This appears to be more pronounced in those who work in an environment where the adoption of digital health technology is high. Younger healthcare professionals across the 15 countries surveyed who work in smart facilities (80%) are more likely than those in both digital (70%) and analogue (67%) facilities to agree that advancements in medical technology excite them about the future of the healthcare profession. Moreover, younger healthcare professionals among the 15 countries surveyed who work in smart facilities are more likely (84%) than those in both digital (78%) and analogue (70%) facilities to be satisfied with their work.

For details on the Future Health Index methodology and to access the 2020 global report, visit the Future Health Index site.  

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