Jonathan Ramajoo: Delivering State-of-the-art Healthcare Solutions
Head of Healthcare, WSP in Australia
What are the main trends currently challenging healthcare in Australia?
The health sector is everchanging in Australia and we’re working towards delivering state-of-the-art solutions.
The future of healthcare delivery will be enabled by flexible, adaptable buildings that are future-proofed by design and accessibility. There are approximately seven million people who live in rural and remote areas in Australia, so one of the greatest challenges is providing them with access to health services. Telehealth has been a major initiative to achieve this. With video conferencing we can connect our remote areas to the basic health services they need. WSP sees virtual reality (VR) as the next step in expanding the level of services that can be provided through a more interactive treatment session.
With climate change now representing one of the greatest threats to human health and wellbeing, an increasing number of healthcare providers consider it vital to reduce hospitals’ carbon emissions. With rising temperatures, ongoing drought and severe bush fires, our attention to environmental sustainability and resilience are becoming important aspects of healthcare facilities. We are now preparing climate adaptation plans for our healthcare projects to minimise risks posed by these challenges.
What are the main drivers that are changing healthcare delivery?
Australia is currently seeing some of the largest public capital expenditure in healthcare. We recognise the health departments value-based healthcare strategy from ‘volume’ to ‘value’, where innovation can do more with less.
Hospitals are technically challenged with space and power-hungry systems. What’s key to our role is the ability to focus on identifying innovative ways to deliver financially-sound solutions, while still providing reliable clinical services, so that the team can unlock as much funding to support the inclusion of more clinical spaces and services.
We have also seen a strong shift in the way our hospitals are designed, with a focus on environments that improve experience for patients, carers and staff. Whilst this has been quite progressive for Australia, in some cases we have overlooked the cross-cultural design principles that are needed for our indigenous people. Indigenous Australians have unique belief systems with a spiritual connection to the land, meaning that outdoor spaces deserve as much design attention as the interiors. Studies also indicate the importance to Indigenous people of including the network of extended family and community in healthcare communication. Larger in-patient rooms, semi-private waiting rooms located in wards, and connection to outdoors are all steps in acknowledging these needs – improvements that provide benefits for all people who use our public hospitals.
What aspect of your role in healthcare do you find most rewarding?
I think the size and connectivity of our business allows my team and me to work on a range of challenging projects, in Australia and beyond. I recently completed a new Cancer Care Centre project for the Port Moresby hospital in Papua New Guinea, a country where the market is fundamentally unique and where project locations can often be remote and in challenging environments. By taking a highly disciplined approach informed by our broad expertise we are creating a centre that will have a considerable positive impact on the local community. This project is an example where WSP’s broad expertise within healthcare and across other disciplines is essential. I’m appreciative that the client, whether regional or remote, still get the same great attention as the major projects taking place in our own city.
If you were a piece of medical equipment what would you be?
A Halcyon radiation therapy system. It is designed for patient comfort while providing the fast delivery of high-quality intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Technological advancements such as this are bringing us closer to winning the fight against cancer.
Jonathan is a registered professional engineer and brings over a decade of healthcare experience, in both contracting and consulting, providing him with great insight into the balance of commercial and technical requirements of healthcare design and delivery.