Healthdirect: delivering health information and advice, online and on the phone

In the third in a series of exclusive client interviews, Matchboard speaks with Carlo Leonessa, General Manager, Service Delivery at Healthdirect Australia.

What role does Healthdirect Australia fulfil in delivering health information and advice to the Australian public?

Healthdirect Australia designs and delivers innovative services on behalf of governments to provide every Australian with 24/7 access to the trusted information and advice they need to manage their own health and related issues. Our vision is to help all Australians manage their own health through leveraging technology to enable timely access to health and related services.

Governments engage Healthdirect Australia to design efficient and effective service operating models to meet their needs. We strategically engage with the markets around service provision to source solutions and then use our experience in managing the delivery of integrated programs to drive positive health outcomes. 

What channels does Healthdirect Australia use to deliver these services? 

Our goal is to integrate our services within the health system by using innovative technologies. This excludes face to face interactions, being more associated with treatment and so outside our mandated core business. We deliver services variously across all the traditional contact centre channels including phone, fax, SMS, email and webforms. We heavily utilise websites for information delivery and self-service tools which include our Healthdirect Symptom Checker. We also have projects using Video and will soon move into delivery via web chat. 

With multiple outsourced partners, how does Healthdirect Australia ensure a consistent and seamless service?

Healthdirect Australia employs a number of governance protocols to ensure that services are delivered to the highest quality. These start at the beginning with service design through to procurement and ongoing operational management of the service, manifesting into continuous improvement activities which leverage on collaborative relationships between Healthdirect Australia, its vendors and service stakeholders.

Key amongst these is our clinical governance framework which ensures health products and services meet national clinical safety and quality standards. This framework covers six dimensions across the performance areas of system, workforce, risk management and quality improvement. These dimensions as applied ensure:

  • Safety, to minimise harm
  • Effectiveness, in achieving desired outcomes
  • Appropriateness, by doing the right things
  • Consumer Acceptability, to the satisfaction of our customers
  • Access and Equity, in delivery across communities
  • Efficiency, that provides the highest benefit for the best relative cost.

How do you see service delivery evolving over the next five years? What are your top two priorities moving into the new year?

I see service delivery evolution at quite different rates between industries and organisations. In the government example we are increasingly seeing the adoption of to the ‘Gateway’ concept where consumers are provided a central entry point for guidance, information and support on how to navigate complex service landscapes (an example of this is My Aged Care).  Getting consumers to access the right care at the right place at the right time has huge benefits in reducing costs and improving outcomes.

For Healthdirect Australia these access mechanisms are aided by technology and devices such as telephone, web‐chat, video, SMS and web services, such as our healthdirect Symptom Checker.  Currently, our consumers cannot move as easily and seamlessly as we would like between our channels, and several of our demographic groups prefer channels which we do not currently have. A key priority for Healthdirect Australia moving into 2016 is to meet the consumer desire to use and choose from the multiple ways (channels) to access and consume services. The trend has been for consumers to “move to digital and help ourselves”, a trend which also often helps lower the cost to serve.

We additionally have a keen focus on our digital assets, with a big drive to develop our content and websites into Australia’s number one destination for trusted health information. This is a significantly ambitious goal, one which we have all the pieces of the puzzle in place to execute. Expect to see pages increasingly feature in your google health searches over the next year.

Why has Healthdirect Australia chosen to outsource its contact centres while developing a significant self-service capability in-house?

We have a mantra of ‘Share before you Buy before you Build’, which serves us well as an organisation. Australian Call centres are in many respects commoditised with a marketplace full of excellent service providers. We can focus on our core business and leave the core competency of delivering contact centres to expert organisations.  In this way, we multiply our organisational capabilities many times and reduce our delivery risk.  Despite appearances, a majority of our digital and online activities are also outsourced to a broad range of industry experts.

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Last updated on: March 18, 2022