Challenges in Health Care for Australia in 2019

Australia’s health care system ranks well globally. In general, Australians have some of the best health services in the world. Average life expectancy rates are rising (except in Indigenous regions, where we still have much to improve), and infant mortality rates are low.

However, Australia faces significant challenges for ensuring the sustainability of our health system. Our ageing population, growing level of chronic illness 2 , and funding restrictions all pose a range of considerable issues to resolve.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, and other healthcare service providers need to guarantee access, ensure quality, minimise risk (to patients and staff), prioritise patient care, and do it all within the available budget.

It’s certainly not an easy feat, but it’s also not an impossible one.

Let’s look at a few key challenges that Australia’s health care system will need to address in 2019 (and beyond).

Changing demographics

Our ageing population will continue to stretch the ability of health services to maintain access and quality nationwide. In 2013, 14% of the population were aged 65. It’s projected that by 2053, a whopping 21% of our population will be 65 years old 3 – nearly a quarter of our entire country.

While the average Australian can now expect to live longer (to around 82 4 years old), this longevity is often accompanied by increasing disability due to chronic illness. Chronic illnesses (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease) pose a significant burden of mortality and morbidity on healthcare facilities.

Equipment costs

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities spend millions of dollars a year on medical equipment. Yet there are multiple leaks within many medical equipment life-cycles that cost facilities precious money.

The purchase, service, and management of assets such as safety equipment, hospital beds and chairs, medical supplies and more are a notoriously wasteful area within healthcare facilities. Due to a lack of consistency with suppliers, reporting and tracking inadequacies in-house, internal resource challenges, and external pressures, even the most diligent hospitals are missing opportunities to reduce their spending on asset procurement and management.

Healthcare equipment providers such as Keystone offer a solution that covers the entire life-cycle, from purchasing new equipment, servicing and preventative maintenance, upgrading, and disposing at end of life.

Quality and safety

A study has found that over 1 in 10 patients 5 admitted to hospital ends up with an additional health problem they didn’t have when first admitted.

Preventable health issues such as hospital acquired infections and fall injuries are among a larger group of medical errors that cost over $1 billion 6 annually. These additional diagnoses may result in a significant risk to the patient, and also add to hospital costs as their need for care extends.

In 2016-17, there were more than 34,000 instances of patients being treated for injuries arising from a fall in hospital. People aged 85 and over have the highest age-specific rate of falls within hospitals,
with an average of 13 cases occurring out of every 1,000 7 hospital stays.

Looking to the future of Australia’s healthcare system

The solutions to these (and more) challenges must involve new approaches to prevention, primary, and acute care and rehabilitation of sick or injured Australians.

At Keystone Health Supplies, we believe these challenges are not insurmountable, but can be navigated through cooperative relationships between care providers and the businesses that service them.

With advancements in safety equipment technology, falls and infections (such as pressure sores) can be minimised. Savings can be made to a facility’s bottom line through the use of more linear equipment management through its entire life-cycle, as well as better options for equipment procurement in the first place.

Keystone is dedicated to helping healthcare facilities reduce instances of hospital acquired injury through better equipment, training, and support. To discuss your facility’s safety equipment rental, purchase or maintenance, contact our knowledgeable team on 1300 547 877.

*References from:

Preventing OHS injuries in Healthcare Settings

Healthcare professionals have one of the highest rates of occupational injury in Australia. In particular, musculoskeletal disorders cause a significant proportion of work-related OHS injuries in hospital and aged care staff.

It’s perhaps not surprising that healthcare is a high-risk industry due to hazards such as toxic drug and chemical agents, workplace stress and violence, and other factors present at any workplace. However, the healthcare industry is responsible for an extremely high rate of preventable injury, accounting for almost 18% 1 of all occupational related injuries.

The incidence rate of serious compensation claims per 1,000 healthcare employees is an eyebrow- raising 14.2, making it the 3 rd highest industry for OHS related claims after machine operators and labourers.

The relationship between patient care and staff injury

Body stress related injury represents more than half (51%) 2 of healthcare workers’ compensation claims. These types of injuries occur largely due to overexertion related to repeated manual patient handling activities.

These manual lifting activities are mostly associated with transferring and repositioning patients in awkward positions. They can include transferring patients from toilet to chair, from chair to bed, from side to side in bed, repositioning patients in beds and chairs, or making a bed with a patient in it.

Sprains and strains are the most commonly reported nature of body stressing injuries, usually in the shoulders and lower back.

The consequences of these injuries are substantial, not only for the healthcare workers directly affected in terms of chronic pain and functional disability, but also for employers who may find themselves liable for compensation.

Additionally, absenteeism and high staff turnover put extra pressure on facilities in their quest to maintain a high standard of patient care.

Minimising the most common healthcare injuries in Australia

A SafeWork Australia study has found that healthcare workers are getting older as a general group, while the average patient is not only older, but also heavier.

Given the increasing demands on healthcare providers in light of this, the risk of musculoskeletal injuries is as high as it’s ever been. It’s every healthcare employer’s responsibility to ensure their OHS procedures are thorough and effective. Hazards and risks need to be reduced and procedures implemented need to minimise the risk of injury in every healthcare setting.

Some ways that employers can mitigate risk includes:

Technology is removing the strain in OHS safety

Patient handling equipment is essential for the safety of both patients and carers. There is an array
of commercially available equipment that employs technological advances to remove the strain from healthcare workers in terms of lifting and moving patients.

Equipment such as ceiling hoists, alternating pressure mattresses , floor hoists, lifters, beds and
wheelchairs are available for ensuring that all patient handling is conducted with minimal manual
effort from healthcare workers while enforcing patients’ dignity.

In particular, the latest innovations in hospital beds are helping to improve care by adding
ergonomic functionality that reduces the effort needed to move patients. Low lying beds , for
example, can be set to a custom height that makes entering and exiting the bed easier.

Beds also now offer postural support including knee raise functionality to provide better supported
sitting positions and ease of use, with some specially-designed birthing beds helping women
maintain more natural positions during labour and birth.

It’s important to remember that every innovation still requires the right knowledge to get the
maximum benefit from it. All staff need to be properly trained in the use of this assistive equipment to ensure correct techniques are used. Fortunately, many healthcare equipment providers such as Keystone provide staff training for their entire range.

Where to get more information

Ensuring your facility’s employees are protected from risks associated with their work is essential. To discuss solutions for mitigating body stress risk in your facility, contact us at Keystone on 1300 547 877.

*Statistics from


Improving Healthcare Supply Chains Drives Better Patient Outcomes

Effective Healthcare Supply Chain Management

The cost of healthcare in Australia is rising. While bulk billing rates are hitting record highs, Australians are also being slapped with $3 billion in out-of-pocket expenses each year. It’s estimated that approximately 1 million Aussies are putting off doctor visits, which is impacting their quality of life and morbidity.

Not only is that outcome the opposite of what healthcare is for, it’s also a clear sign of the significant financial pressure on hospitals, clinics and aged care facilities; who struggle to remain profitable while also providing quality care.

It may come as no surprise that a healthcare facility’s supply chain is its second largest expense, exceeded only by the cost of labour. A fragmented supply chain chews up valuable time that could be spent with patients, space which could increase bed counts, and money that could be spent on improving facilities and undertaking new initiatives for better patient outcomes.

It stands to reason then, that improving those supply chains by reducing waste and therefore cost is good news for everyone. By reducing supply chain waste, hospitals, aged care facilities and other medical centres can pass those cost savings onto patients and invest in better technology to enhance their quality of care.

So, what could this look like for your healthcare facility?


Effective asset management

Assets such as hospital beds and other equipment are a significant cost for healthcare facilities. A quality asset management system can help healthcare executives manage equipment better to reduce wastage costs. Knowing where assets are and keeping up with a regular maintenance cycle to maximise their lifespan can add many thousands to a facility’s budget.

Collaboration with your equipment provider ensures that everyone works together to ensure that medical equipment is tracked and properly maintained. Medical equipment providers Keystone Healthcare offer a maintenance and repair program that prolongs asset value and minimises waste.

Improving Healthcare Supply Chains

Technology and analytics

Effective technologies are available to help healthcare executives make successful improvements to their supply chain. Implementing procedural insights gleaned from hard data can make supply management a less difficult and time-intensive process.

Finding the right system to see exactly where the gaps are in your facility’s processes helps prevent financial waste while also supporting more effective, data-driven choices.

Supplier relationships

When delivering savings in procurement, the focus should be on value for patients, not just lowering costs. A good supplier will work with healthcare executives to make high quality care less costly. Keystone Healthcare constantly liaise with manufacturers worldwide to ensure they are getting the best deals on products they provide, as well as staying on top of new advancements in healthcare technology and equipment.

Additionally, healthcare executives can also reap extra benefits from strong partnerships with quality suppliers who enable and promote savings goals for their clients. At Keystone Healthcare, we partner with our clients to assess gaps in their current strategy and find cost savings across their entire organisation through better equipment management and supply.

Delivery, setup and training

Multiple suppliers mean supply chains are often complex and fragmented. In many cases there are many hand offs before a product reaches a patient, which adds extra waste in terms of time, human resources, and cost.

Keystone Healthcare look to reduce this waste by providing a streamlined service that includes delivery, pickup, and even equipment setup and staff training. This end-to-end service adds value by taking care of the logistical pressures involved with managing all these tasks internally.

Instead of having to coordinate multiple logistical manoeuvres for the supply and maintenance of their healthcare equipment, our clients enjoy the ‘hands-off’ experience of having us manage these processes seamlessly for them.

A new era of supply chain management is here

Today healthcare executives Australia-wide are seeking to alleviate the strain of rising costs and do more with less. The most successful hospital and healthcare supply operations are born from strong collaboration between healthcare professionals and suppliers, with the goal of alleviating cost pressures to free up hospital staff from the distractions of logistics.

While approaches may differ between facilities, the common driver is a need for hospitals, aged care facilities and other medical centres to become more efficient in order to provide more affordable and better care for every Australian.

Preventing Chronic Wounds In Vulnerable Patients

For many of us, finding a scratch or sore on our body isn’t a big deal. After applying a bit of antiseptic and a Band-Aid, we’re back to our normal activities without much further thought.

But for older people a simple wound – left untreated – can turn into a chronic issue that can result in years of pain, permanent disability and even death.

Chronic wounds are a largely unrecognised serious health issue in Australia, impacting almost 500,000 Australians daily and costing our health system $3 billion annually.

Wounds can affect anyone’s quality of life, but people over the age of 65 are most at risk of a wound becoming a significant health problem. For the elderly, even a small wound can become a life-changing condition if it’s not treated quickly enough.

With Australia’s elderly population growing each year, our ‘hidden affliction’ of chronic wounds is set to rise.

We’re participating in Wound Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness about wounds as a serious health issue. With the right prevention and treatment measures, wounds can be stopped from devastating the lives of so many Australians.

What are chronic wounds?

A wound is any damage that has broken the surface of the skin, such as a sore or cut. Many wounds heal quickly and without complication. But when the damage takes more than three months to heal, or the wound is recurring, it’s considered a chronic wound.

Chronic wounds are often ‘stuck’ in one of the phases of healing. They typically fall into one of the following classifications:

  • Diabetic ulcers – These result from poor blood circulation, nerve damage and impaired immune function.
  • Venous ulcers – Often starting from venous diseases, these can develop in the leg and become inflamed and painful.
  • Arterial ulcers – These round-shaped wounds usually affect full skin thickness and appear ‘punched out’.
  • Pressure sores – Caused by staying in the same position for long periods of time, pressure sores occur due to prolonged pressure affecting blood flow to the skin and tissue. They are particularly common in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and aged care centres.

What causes chronic wounds?

Healing requires a range of health conditions including good blood supply, plenty of oxygen and nutrients, and a clean and infection-free environment. When issues such as advanced age, medical conditions (such as diabetes), poor health and nutrition, or impaired mobility are present, the body’s requirements for healing aren’t fully met.

As a result, wounds can take prolonged periods to heal, reoccur periodically, or gradually get worse until they’re threatening life or limb.

Warning signs of wounds

You can tell if a wound is healing by its appearance – if it’s progressively improving in size and severity each week, you’re on the right track.

But if a wound isn’t healing, it’s important to watch out for the signs it’s progressing into something worse.

  • Pain and heat – If the wound is red, painful, swollen or hot, it could be signs of infection.
  • Odour – An unpleasant odour is often indicative of bacteria or other barriers to wound healing.
  • Excess fluid –A little bit of fluid is helpful for the body’s healing process, but excessive fluid can work to its detriment.
  • Slow healing – If there’s no reduction in the size or severity of the wound’s appearance each week, something is impacting the healing process.

Preventing wounds in healthcare settings

Chronic wounds are far easier to prevent than to treat. The best way healthcare providers such as hospitals and aged care facilities can combat chronic wounds is to have a prevention and treatment plan that involves the following:

  • Regular skin inspections of at-risk patients
  • Close monitoring of diabetic, bariatric and elderly patients for signs of a wound
  • Tracking the healing progress of known wounds
  • Maintaining proper hygiene and wound care standards

Additionally, specialised equipment is available to help prevent the occurrence of common wounds such as pressure sores.

Pressure care experts Keystone Healthcare offer a range of wound prevention solutions for hospitals and aged care centres across Australia. This equipment helps prevent patient skin injuries and includes:

Where to get further information

Keystone Healthcare are dedicated to reducing preventable injuries in healthcare settings Australia-wide. We offer equipment for rental or purchase, as well as delivery, installation and staff training on its proper use.

To discuss your facility’s wound prevention needs, call us on 1300 547 877.

Australia’s Obesity Battle Weighs Heavy on Healthcare

Australia now has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. With over 60% of Australians now above a healthy weight, it’s fair to say Australia’s ‘battle of the bulge’ is growing to epidemic proportions. As our population ages, older Australians (over 55 years of age) are being caught up in this health crisis. Older people are now 6-7 kilograms heavier than their counterparts were 20 years ago.

With our more sedentary lifestyle and easier access to energy-dense foods, this problem is set to continue, fuelled by children and young adults gaining weight at a higher rate than ever before. With an estimated 1 in 3 Australian adults becoming obese by 2025, it’s an issue that healthcare providers need to plan for today.

We know that obesity contributes to a range of medical problems. People carrying excess weight are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.

For our healthcare system, this translates into more frequent hospital admissions and longer stays. This increasing reliance on healthcare has serious implications for hospitals, for nurses and carers, and for aged care facilities. The annual cost of treating obesity-related diseases is projected to increase from $8 billion (in 2012) to $21 billion by 2025. Looking at that number, it’s important to recognise its implications on not only the provision of services, pharmaceuticals and care, but also on the increasing need for specialised equipment to accommodate larger and heavier patients.

This investment includes providing wider and stronger trolleys, wheelchairs, armchairs and beds. Bariatric monitoring and assistance equipment also needs to be factored in, as well as pressure care solutions for patients who are bedridden for prolonged periods. Additionally, there is also an important health and safety concern for nurses and carers. The manual handling of obese patients poses significant challenges for both the patients themselves, and for those caring for them.

Occupational injuries are reportedly highest for staff of hospitals, residential and aged care services, and are predominantly related to manual lifting and transferring of patients. In some healthcare facilities, full-time safety staff have been appointed to oversee safe manual handling of obese patients due to staff injuries.

It’s time for better bariatric care

The obesity problem isn’t going away, and obese patients deserve the same level of safety in healthcare as any other Australian. Healthcare facilities are beginning to understand the need for investing in equipment for moving, managing and caring for obese patients safely while preserving their dignity.

The range of commercially available equipment designed for obese patients is growing. Items include:

  • Manual and powered wheelchairs
  • Mobile and ceiling hoists and slings
  • Reinforced beds, trolleys and chairs
  • Walking frames and other mobility equipment
  • Shower chairs and floor-mounted toilets
  • Weighing devices for non-ambulant people
  • Pressure mattresses for beds and chairs
  • Aids to assist with turning or lifting patients in bed

This equipment needs to be reinforced and able to support weights of up to 300kgs. To achieve this, bariatric equipment is typically strengthened by a variety of methods including using stronger metals and thicker tubing. Rigid frames (as opposed to frames with moving parts such as folding frames) are also used to support heavier patients, reducing their risk of a fall. Additionally, monitoring equipment such as fall alarms and roll-out systems are available to ease the burden on healthcare staff.

Paving a new road ahead

With a recent study finding that the majority of patients living with clinically severe obesity are unable to access adequate care in the public hospital system, the needs and safety of these patients is an issue that healthcare providers can no longer ignore. Healthcare safety equipment provider Keystone Health Supplies offer bariatric solutions for rental or purchase. We work with leading bariatric equipment manufacturers worldwide to provide hospitals, aged care facilities and private residences with affordable and reliable equipment.

It’s our goal to reduce preventable injuries in healthcare settings and promote safe care for those at their most vulnerable across Australia.

To discuss your facility’s bariatric equipment needs, call us on 1300 547 877.


Reducing Hospital Acquired Infections in Australia

Elderly Injury Prevention

Healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) are an increasingly significant problem in hospitals and care facilities. Each year around 180,000 Australian patients suffer from HAIs ranging from urinary tract, staphylococcus, respiratory and more.
Defined as an infection acquired in hospital by a patient who was admitted for another reason, HAIs cause additional pressure on our healthcare system, on facility staff, and most importantly, on the patients themselves. For patients with weakened immune systems, HAIs can lead to prolonged recovery periods and even death.
The good news is that most healthcare acquired infections are preventable. At Keystone Health Supplies, it’s our mission to eliminate preventable HAIs in every Australian hospital and care facility. With the proper prevention and management practices, we know this is an achievable goal.

The hidden risks of hospital care

All people potentially harbour infectious microorganisms. But there’s no place quite like a hospital for gathering a large range of pathogens under one roof. Throw into the mix open surgeries, close accommodation, and shared equipment, and you’ve got a dangerous environment where infection can potentially run riot.
As such, it’s crucial for hospitals to maintain a vigilant prevention program to curb the risk of infection for patients, hospital staff, and visitors to the facility.

How to reduce Healthcare Acquired Infections

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare stresses the importance of reducing harm to people from HAIs through effective infection control across two key areas:

Hand sanitisation

Hand sanitisation Keystone Healthcare Supplies

Microorganisms can be either present on hands most of the time (resident flora), or picked up during activities (transient flora).
A substantial portion of human infections are transmitted via contaminated hand contact between the face and an external surface or component. Patients with infections who touch their face and then other objects such as bed rails, door handles, and walking aids can quickly pass bacteria around and widen the range of infection.
Equally, patients or healthcare workers who touch infected areas and then touch their face carry a high risk of being the infection’s next unwilling host.

As we humans touch our face on average 2-5 times each minute, it stands to reason that hand sanitisation is the first step in infection control.

Measures for hand sanitisation include:
• Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
• Hand hygiene before and after contact with all patients
• Using aseptic ‘non-touch’ skin disinfectants for all invasive procedures

Environmental control

With patients routinely using shared equipment, regular cleaning is as fundamental as hand hygiene in the fight against disease causing microorganisms.

Ensuring that health facilities follow adequate measures for the routine care, cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, beds, transport equipment and other frequently touched surfaces is paramount to successful infection control.

These measures include:
• Scheduling regular equipment disinfection
• Safe disposal of residual waste from cleaning activities
• Maintaining clear protocols that uphold standards of cleanliness

A convenient alternative for superior infection controlSpecial products are available for hospitals and healthcare facilities that make sanitising shared equipment more effective in terms of safety, labour and cost.

The Hygiene Washer is designed to wash and disinfect contaminated medical equipment, helping facilities to maintain patient safety with clean, sanitised equipment while complying with Australian OHS requirements.

The washer caters for stainless steel equipment that comes in contact with people, such as:
• Wheelchairs
• Walking frames + sticks
• Commode chairs
• Hospital trolleys
• Emergency carts
• Food Trolleys

With the functionality to monitor the wash frequency of equipment, special rotating spray arms to disinfect difficult to reach areas, and UV light capability our Hygiene Washer ensures even the smallest infectious organisms are sent packing.

Also important to note is that the washer’s automatic self-cleaning functionality prevents cross contamination across equipment; draining all wastage directly into the facility’s sewer system, leaving no residue behind.

Where to find more information

Keystone Health Supplies are dedicated to the prevention and control of the transmission of HAIs to patients, residents, healthcare workers and facility visitors.

Contact Keystone Healthcare Supplies on 1300 547 877 to discuss your facility’s infection control needs or contact us here. Or for more information check out the Hygiene Washer video below!

4 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Fall Risk At Home

fall prevention solutions

Falls are a major health issue in Australia, especially for older people. Statistics tell us that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 fall every single year!* What’s worse, this number is set to rise as our population ages.

Falling over happens to us all at some point in our life. But as we age, falls become far more common…  and far more dangerous. Not only are falls the leading cause of hospitalisation for people over 65 years of age, they are also responsible for 40% of deaths in this age group*.

Even if a fall doesn’t result in a broken hip, nasty cut, or serious brain injury, even small falls can still result in a loss of confidence that leads to reduced mobility, independence, and quality of life. Studies have found that after falling over, 48% of older people become so fearful of falling again that they curtail their regular activities*.

These statistics are certainly worrying. But the good news is that the majority of falls can be prevented. Understanding your risk factor and taking a few precautions can make a huge difference in keeping you safe from a fall.

Given most falls occur in and around the home, the team at Keystone have worked with Occupational Therapist Christian Kunc to put together this handy resource full of tips to help you reduce your fall risk, and that of your loved ones.

1. Monitor Your Gait and Balance

As we get older, we typically experience reduced co-ordination and flexibility as our bones and muscles get weaker. This affects our ability to balance as we move around.

Expert tip – Exercise! Keeping fit and active is the #1 way to reduce your fall risk. Walking is the easiest and most effective way to keep our bones and muscles strong, so try to schedule in time for a walk each day.

Make sure you choose non-slip shoes that fit well – tripping over on your walk is not part of the plan!

2. Be Aware Of Medication Effects

Medications are part of the parcel when it comes to ageing. Unfortunately, many medications can cause unwanted side effects that increase your fall risk.

Expert tip – Speak with your doctor about the possible side effects of your medications, especially if you get dizzy, drowsy or feel overly fatigued after taking them. Sometimes changing your dose, timing or even the medication itself can improve any side effects and reduce your fall risk.

Also, make sure that after sitting down for a while, you take 10 seconds to orient yourself when getting up. A sudden increase in blood flow can cause momentary disorientation that could cause you to topple over. A few moments to ‘find your legs’ makes all the difference.

3. Minimise Hazards Around Your Home

Few homes are designed with the needs of an elderly resident in mind. As we age, many elements in and around the home can become fall hazards.

Here are a few changes to consider:

Steps and stairways – Install handrails for all uneven surfaces, and make sure they are securely fastened.

Floors – A simple thing like an upturned rug corner can cause chaos for the unprepared. Remove rugs where you can, and where you can’t, use double-sided tape to secure them to the floor.

Bathrooms – Install rails to assist with safe toilet and shower use. Also, make sure shower floors have non-skid pads laid – showers can get dangerously slippery for even the most able bodied person!

Lighting – A simple night time toilet visit can turn deadly without proper lighting. Install night lights in all rooms and hallways, and place a lamp and telephone near the bed.

Kitchen –It’s easy to lose balance when straining to grasp a jar on the top shelf, or worse – climbing a kitchen ladder! Organise the kitchen so that often-used items are within easy reach.

All rooms – The less clutter in and around the home, the less likelihood of it tripping someone over. Remove obvious hazards wherever possible, and move items that must stay so that they’re not inhibiting walking within the home.


4. Use A Walking Aid

Having a bit of support at the right time can mean the difference between a bit of a wobble, and coming crashing down.

Mobility aids such as walking sticks and walkers are essential for people at high risk of a fall. There are a large variety of types and features available to suit the specific requirements of every person.

Expert tip – Choosing the right aid is important. Get help from a qualified health professional when selecting, fitting, and learning how to use a walking aid.

Where To Get More Information

The team at Keystone Health Supplies is dedicated to helping our clients reduce their risk of falling. If you’re concerned about your fall risk, or that of a loved one, get in touch with us on 1300 547 877.

*All statistics taken from the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society.