Leadership & Management

Senior leaders gear up to tackle key challenges

Health Industry Hub | January 22, 2024 |

Leadership & Management: Australian business leaders are navigating a complex and dynamic environment, marked by geopolitical uncertainties and rapid developments in artificial intelligence (AI).

The top five challenges that are currently keeping Australian business leaders awake at night, reflect both the complexity of the issues and the determination to find effective solutions.

1. Protecting and Dealing with Cyber Risks

Recent major cyber attacks have thrust cybersecurity into the spotlight, compelling business leaders to step outside their comfort zones. The fear of the unknown looms large, prompting a re-evaluation of strategies to safeguard digital assets. The urgency is palpable, with 43% of leaders identifying cyber risks as their primary concern, according to a recent KPMG report.

In a bid to fortify the nation against escalating cyber threats, the government recently unveiled the 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy. The release of this strategy garnered a positive response from the medtech sector and academics alike.

2. Talent Acquisition, Retention and Reskilling

Talent remains a critical focus for Australian businesses, with a particular emphasis on adapting to a digitised future, as identified by 42% of senior leaders. According to Mercer data, the big bet for 2024 in tackling the talent shortage is by building skills from within the organisation.

Reflecting on the outlook for this year, Karen Hood, Country Lead at Sanofi ANZ, shared a sense of optimism, emphasising the strength and ability of Sanofians to make a significant impact. Her words painted a hopeful picture of resilience and determination for the challenges ahead.

Sue Martin, Managing Director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech ANZ, highlighted the collaborative efforts across the healthcare sector, especially in addressing health inequity.

“We have witnessed collaboration and open-mindedness [last year] across industry and with stakeholders, including the focused efforts from the entirety of the healthcare sector on addressing health inequity. I’m excited for new advances in technology and approaches to patient care that will support patients and our customers,” she remarked.

3. Evolving Regulatory Processes

Navigating evolving regulatory landscapes is a shared concern, with 41% of Australian business leaders expressing the challenges they face, according to the KPMG report.

Adam Roach, VP and Head of Asia Pacific at BeiGene, emphasised the importance of partnerships in tackling the key challenges faced by the healthcare industry.

“Within this industry, we are not competitors, but partners. The challenges we face are too big for any one stakeholder to solve alone. We can only ensure success through cooperation, collaborations, and partnership. Growing our small group of committed citizens means we can achieve more,” he told Health Industry Hub.

The need to align existing “reimbursement and health technology systems” with evolving societal demands was stressed by Pat Williams, Vice President Edwards Lifesciences ANZ and Korea. “When we are on top of that with all stakeholders – government, payers, hospitals and companies – I will be the most optimistic person within the industry,” he expressed.

Ben McDonald, Country President of AstraZeneca ANZ, drew optimism for this year from the collective advocacy of the patient and medical community. He underscored the commitment to ensuring faster and broader access to innovative medicines for Australians and New Zealanders.

4. Digital Optimisation and Extracting Organisational Value

The role of technology as an enabler, as a risk or as just even as a major expense, is coalescing as a key fundamental issue for Australian leaders.

Liz Carnabuci, Vice President and Managing Director of Medtronic ANZ, looked beyond the challenges facing the healthcare ecosystem. She envisioned a landscape where AI and innovative technologies amplify patient care.

“I am confident and optimistic about the ability for healthcare stakeholders to come together to find new pathways to accelerate innovation access, and the role of AI and other tools in streamlining procedures and optimising processes to enhance patient care and healthcare delivery. This will be a year of positive solutions and momentum in healthcare recovery,” she explained.

5. Cost Controls in an Inflationary Environment

Paul McKenzie, CEO of CSL, acknowledged the impact of interest rate rises on headline inflation in the Australian Financial Review’s annual Chanticleer poll. He cautiously suggested that rates may have peaked, highlighting the resilience of the Australian economy. McKenzie stressed the importance of carefully targeted immigration sponsorship for the development of capabilities in Australia and long-term business sustainability. He warned against restricting the ability to attract talent from overseas, as it could severely impact innovative businesses like CSL.

Despite the challenges, there’s an overarching sense of optimism among Australian business leaders to tackle the key complexities that lie ahead. The collaborative resilience and determination expressed by industry leaders paints a picture of hope and progress as they navigate the evolving healthcare landscape.

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