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Modern-day healthcare leaders for modern-day challenges

Photo: Modern-day healthcare leaders for modern-day challenges
The needs and expectations of Australians are changing as the population’s health issues evolve. The medical industry is expected to stay at the forefront of modern technology and treatments; therefore, its leaders are expected to continuously develop their skillset in order to keep up with these industry shifts.

To maintain public health standards and allow for long term improvement, it is crucial to have well-equipped and highly qualified health leaders to navigate these complex issues.

Modern health challenges
Geographic changes in the Australian landscape

The Australian geographical spread continues to change with increasing immigration and urbanisation to major cities. With job opportunities and the development of urban hubs, people live in close proximity to each other. The density of shared public spaces presents a heightened risk for the spread of infectious diseases as demonstrated through COVID-19. Public health leaders must have a firm grasp on how our society behaves in order to introduce feasible policies and send correct public messages and advice.
On the other hand, with rural and country towns continued growth, public health leaders must have a clear understanding of how to allocate and develop healthcare facilities in rural areas, as well as major cities. Public health leadership must understand the needs of their people, providing adequate education, facilities and training to those across different urban landscapes.

Demographic changes and Australia’s aging population

Modern medical breakthroughs have facilitated a higher life expectancy - people are living for longer than ever before. With this increased lifespan comes an aging population. Between 1999 and 2019 the portion of Australians who are over 65 years of age has increased from 12.3% to 15.9%, with this per cent anticipated to increase even more rapidly over the next 10 years.

Experts advise that the continuous growth of the Australian population will present new public health issues such as increased chronic illness rates and a larger assembly of people with reduced mobility and increased physical hardship. This demographic shift demands that medical leadership understand the needs of the population and prepare ahead of time. This could be through research at universities or institution to help formulate recommendations, as well as leadership in hospitals or health institutions to ensure health services are adequately prepared.

Negative health habits of the population

Victorian data suggests that 31% of the state is overweight with a further 19% classified as obese. This unhealthy portion of the population continues to grow as people become less active.

Healthcare leaders play a vital role in both the prevention of obesity as well as early education and patient engagement. Healthcare leaders also can influence health care policies and services for health policy, planning and management, be it through roles in government departments as well as health advocacy or policy planning organisations.

Shortage of healthcare leaders

These modern public health concerns require experts to enact change. However, the demand is not being met and there is a growing shortage of qualified candidates. The recent coronavirus pandemic exposed this threat to the public healthcare system clearly identifying that Australia must be prepared with skilled staff and fill any healthcare shortages.

Australia’s healthcare leaders need to be more adaptable than ever before – applying their skills to a wide range of scenarios and have a willingness to learn throughout their professional life.

PWC identified seven focus areas for leaders to reform the health system, one of which was that the “health workforce of the future will require upskilling in new technologies, addressing potential resourcing gaps, and collaborative mindsets and ways of working”.

“The knowledge and skills that [Monash Online Master of Public Health] graduates obtain during their course are directly applicable across all facets of public health … graduates will also be able to apply this knowledge and skills across different disciplines, be it clinical, management or industry.”
- Monash Online Master of Public Health Course Director Dragan Ilic

The rising costs of private healthcare

The private healthcare industry has the ability to relieve pressure from the public health care system. However, the out-of-pocket expenses for private health insurance, treatments and services continue to rise, with a 2.5% increase in the March 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter for 2019.

This has lead people to instead turn to the government-funded facilities, with over 9,000 people dropping their private health insurance in the March 2020 quarter. This increase in demand places additional stress on the public hospitals to service more people requiring medical attention for an increasing range of conditions. The public health industry must expand to meet the demand, which in turn requires more additional managerial and leadership professionals.

The future of Australian public health

Whilst Australia's healthcare system has been ranked second best in the developed world, the public health system still faces a range of challenges. The ageing population, changing demographics and geographical distributions pose new challenges to the system, which require strong healthcare leadership.

“The Master of Public Health course is delivered by national and international experts in their respective fields… [utilising] an experiential learning model where graduates will draw on their own experiences to complement the formal teaching delivered by academics.”
- Monash Online Master of Public Health Course Director Dragan Ilic

Monash Online offers a Master of Public Health which trains professionals in how to handle these issues and lead Australians to a healthier and safer future. The program is designed for health care professionals who want to step into leadership roles, giving them the necessary tools to succeed.

Monash University is a leading Group of Eight university that offers unique 100 percent online learning in the areas of psychology, health and data science through Monash Online. With the flexibility of studying wherever and whenever it suits you, gaining a qualification for the next step in your career is within your grasp. Visit the Monash Online website to find out more.


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