The ED of the Future

As a leader in emergency medicine for over 30 years, FACEM Professor Gerry Fitzgerald knows how hard it can be to change the emergency healthcare system.

His passionate advocacy for an evidence-based approach to reform has seen him lead numerous health management programs and build an exceptional body of experience in emergency health from clinical, service delivery and policy perspectives.

In his presentation ‘The ED of the Future’, at the ACEM 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in November, Gerry will be looking at the current state of the healthcare system, reviewing the major challenges that lie ahead and explaining why he believes efficiency is the answer.


Do not miss the opportunity to attend the ASM and hear presenters like Gerry. Register now! 

An ageing population and a congested health system

“The main challenges we’re going to face in the future are increasing demand from an ageing population and a congested health system,” Gerry says. “There’s no appetite at a macro-political level to increase capacity so we’re going to have to explore ways to make our system more efficient.”

In Australia efficiency is often seen as code for cost-cutting, but this is not what Gerry means.

“The kind of efficiency I’m talking about means using the system more wisely than we do currently, so we can preserve the current standards of patient care,” he says. “It means organisationally and structurally redesigning the system so that patients flow through it more efficiently.”

How we do that is the big question.

Gerry sees collaborative research and drawing on multidisciplinary expertise as crucial components. In his role as Professor of Public Health at the Queensland University of Technology, Gerry has had the opportunity to further explore multidisciplinary research, including a stint helping supervise PhD candidates in the mathematics department. He believes that applying approaches from other industries to the healthcare sector can be very rewarding, if done right.

“Historically we’ve designed our health systems based on a very linear, deterministic model of how patients behave,” he says. “Other industries don’t do that; if someone’s designing an airport they look at what the customers are doing and where the bottlenecks are, then create a layout to allow customers to flow through more easily.”

This type of approach isn’t unknown to Australian EDs. Gerry nominates Fast-Track as a good example of a new service model that was successfully introduced to ease patient flow. But he believes that if healthcare services are to be made more efficient both physically and operationally, collaboration is essential from the outset.

“For me the way of the future is about collaborative research, a system-wide approach and highly coordinated and efficient programs,” he says. “That’s the way we’re going to be able to deliver high-quality patient care despite the challenges that lie ahead.”

A compelling and interactive program

This year’s ASM will be held in Sydney from 19-23 November at the new Sydney International Conference Centre, and will focus on the themes of “Impossible is just a perspective” and “Getting the balance right”.

The meeting will offer a compelling and interactive program, broad enough to cover the full gamut of emergency medicine, with a line-up of the most inspiring, entertaining and knowledgeable speakers in the emergency medicine world today. Each will be taking on the hard topics and exploring the nuanced discussion, plus cutting-edge research and novel ways to translate into practice.

Check out the program and registration details on the ASM website.