What Changes in the NZ Health Industry? You may well ask!

The Healthcare Congress was once again a great success with a number of thought provoking presenters speaking about the changes that technology is bring to the sphere of medicine and diagnosis and treatment,  but then  the future of Health procurement in New Zealand was presented, debated and discussed, and the déjà vu set in. I have always marvelled at the way bureaucracy can take something straight forward and wrap it in process, procedures, compliance until it’s so complicated no one knows how it works anymore. In the past the Medical Superintendent ran the hospital until the State Services Act 1988 introduced the management concept. Of course you can’t have a manager without staff to manage! Now the structures inside the administration of the hospital are so complex and convoluted that the patient seems to be just a nuisance at the end of the chain. PHARMAC are putting in place an additional structure to negotiate contracts with suppliers and healthAlliance has been tasked to purchase medical supplies for the DHB’s hence creating more layers and more structure and complexity.


I don’t mean to come over all philosophical and tackle the meaning of life, but have we forgotten what the reason for existence - I’m referring to why businesses or organisations exist. Is the prime purpose to provide a return to the shareholders? Or, for example was the medical supply company started to provide quality of life and improved healthcare to the community?  Many of us can relate to the current business pressure  - things like cost containment, return on investment, justification of expenditure, headcount restrictions, weekly compliance assessments, but what about doing our job?  When do we get the feeling that we are making a difference with what we do, that it matters in the bigger scheme of things, when do we feel energised at the end of a day? 


I can’t answer all these questions in this little rant-fest (I’d need to write a book!) but I do know that when things get complicated it often means there is something hidden beneath the confusion that is not being dealt with.  So we need to get back to basics with how we work and Keep it Simple. Posing a simple question can help:

Healthcare – what are the needs of the patient?  Drug rep – what difference can this medication make for the patient? Manager – what does my team need to make their work better? Recruiter – what role does this candidate need to do to feel empowered and what people will fit in this company to help fulfil its goals? All of this comes back to people and providing a service to others. 


So when you are feeling the frustration of a day at work or you are lacking motivation then maybe a helpful question could be “Who have I served today?”.


- Gary Beattie - Managing Director, Synergy Consulting Group.