The challenge of effective governance
There has been much said in the media in relation to the concept of governance recently. It is a term that is often used broadly and generally, with varying levels of meaning and understanding.
Governance encompasses the systems, processes, and relationships that ensure an organisation meets its legal requirements, but also allows it to operate in the most effective way it can.
Most notably, the elite sporting environment has been the focus of intense scrutiny on the back of reported poor governance systems in recent times. There are also numerous examples of failures and poor performance of companies because of reported lack of attention to contemporary governance processes.
The APA, as a national organisation, has benefited from the committed work of many office bearers, members and staff who have worked extremely hard to ensure that our governance processes are contemporary, are being reviewed regularly and are helping to optimise our performance.
When we think of physiotherapy as a profession, our thoughts turn more so to the concept of governance as it relates to our clinical care. That being the systems, processes, and checkpoints we have to ensure that clinical care is safe, effective and regularly reviewed with a focus on improvement. There are many factors that influence effective clinical governance.
One of the specific enablers is the use of technology and the ability to capture consistent and meaningful clinical data, to make informed decisions. It’s interesting to ponder the state of our readiness as a profession to embrace technology for future clinical safety and efficiency.
As a part of the APA’s costs benchmark study in 2016, it was identified that physiotherapists in private practice in Australia currently use a large range of software programs for clinical notes. It was evident from the sample that responded that few programs incorporated clinical and non-clinical management functions, such as appointment scheduling. And the use of a single, integrated software package was not common.
The situation is different in the public sector where there is still significant variability across sites and jurisdictions in the models and platforms that are used. Because of this, there is a chasm between physiotherapists who work across the public and private sectors, with a restricted ability for seamless clinical communication.
This poses a significant question and challenge to the profession. The concept of a collective and united approach to technology, data collection and integration warrants serious thought. It is a collective governance challenge that the APA has started to consider and discuss as an emerging critical issue for our profession.
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