How will a changing nation affect Australia’s GPs?

Doug Hendrie

26/10/2019 10:33:48 AM

Social researcher Mark McCrindle outlines how demographics and technology will impact healthcare delivery.

Mark McCrindle
Mark McCrindle believes technological trends will start to affect patient attitudes regarding timeframes, methods of communication, and response time.

‘You create thriving flourishing communities, but what will define those communities? How is the context changing? What do we need to prepare for?’
That was how social researcher Mark McCrindle began his GP19 plenary on the patient of the future.
‘We are nine weeks away from a new decade – it’s a good time to think about what’s next,’ he said.
‘It used to be that life was more sequential and predictable, compared to this world of disruption. Now, the future is coming at us – at increasing velocity – and often from an unknown direction.’
Mr McCrindle said that 60,000 people got on a driverless metro train in Sydney this morning, while people in Brisbane received deliveries by drone.
What that means for GPs, he said, is that technological trends will start to affect patient attitudes regarding timeframes, methods of communication, and response time.
The impact of the longevity boom is a major shift to come.
‘You’re a key reason for that,’ he told the room of GPs.
‘Four decades ago our median age was 28. In four decades time it will be 42, with more people over 60 than under 20.’
He predicted the future would be one of mobility, with younger generations moving through an average of six careers in their lifetimes and often moving city or country.
‘We’re adding more people annually in Australia than ever before,’ he said.
‘In 1998, the Bureau of Statistics forecast that we would be at 26 million by mid-century. We’re almost at that now, and the new forecast is that we’ll be at 42 million by mid-century.
‘Our assumptions are changing – there’s greater net migration and the birthrate is up. We see the population growth in our capitals and inner-regional cities. We see it visually.’
With the growing population came a demographic shift, he said.
‘Two thirds of our population growth is from overseas. Twenty nine per cent of us were born overseas,’ he said.
‘In the US and UK, only 14% of their population were born overseas – we’re twice that. We’re becoming very culturally diverse and you’re seeing that with patients and in the community.
‘It’s a change in our national identity and how we see ourselves.
‘We used to see ourselves as separated from the rest of the world, but our new migration is less from Europe and more from Asia. China, India and the Philippines are in the top five countries where people come from.’
Mr McCrindle believes it is common to experience ‘change fatigue’.
‘To not only adapt to it yourself, but to help your patients adapt – it’s a challenge,’ he said.
‘You can get overwhelmed or resistant to change.’
To combat this situation, Mr McCrindle said it is important to be innovative.
‘That’s what separates those who adapt to change compared to those who are disrupted [by it],’ he said.
‘We need to be responsive to the changing context.’

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A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/10/2019 8:21:54 AM

As an historian for RACGP I am only too well aware of the rapidity & extent of change. I am also aware that this massive change did not start recently but has been our constant companion especially since the Industrial Revolution!
GPs have always been at the forefront of adaption & innovation (one only need look at our use of IT)
I expect we will continue to adapt to meet & anticipate the needs of our patients as did those GPs who preceded us & those who will succeed us.