The Westmead project plans to enhance the health services provided to patients, through collaboration and the integration of hospitals and clinics. It consists of a hospital for adults, a children’s hospital, multiple research institutes and the presence of many universities.
The Director of Strategic Business Development and Commercial Services for the Western Sydney Local Health District, Leena Singh, says “the focus on the redevelopment is to enhance the already existing world class services to integrate more closely to each of the organisations on site. This will ensure a much more comprehensive pathway for the patient and greater collaboration for staff and students.”
Along with the NSW Government, the Westmead Redevelopment is also focused on the ambitions of the University of Sydney, who have announced a $500m investment into the Westmead Precinct over the next 15 years. This partnership will broaden collaboration to a wide range of other disciplines apart from medicine. The university’s investment expands beyond the traditional medical oriented schools, and while the details are yet to be confirmed, these schools may include disciplines like engineering, sciences, management, and economics. Having a broad range of disciplines on the precinct further adds to the diversity and ensures that broader innovation can be realised through collaboration. “Having great young minds in fields like engineering, science and economics simply means we will be able to bring together the best medical minds with young tech savvy individuals to create solutions to the healthcare issues faced by not only Western Sydney but also Australia”.
The accessibility of buildings across the precinct is an important feature to their collaborative design, as it will allow free movement between the various buildings on site. Leena explains, “the building that we build will be accessible to everyone on the precinct. People will be able to cross over and talk to each other and again collaborate, and we’ll be able to actually capitalise on the knowledge and the fresh ideas that will come to the site by the different people coming on-board.”
Central to the philosophy of collaboration and innovation is the establishment of an Innovation Centre, which will concentrate on providing solutions to the largest of healthcare issues. “The centre is designed to bring together the diversity of people who are involved in or have the responsibility to contribute to the improvement of health outcomes. The centre will encourage the collaboration between the private and public sectors and will act as the conduit to ensuring all relevant parties can work together and be involved in bringing their expertise to the solution. This means we will have the optimum outcomes, rather than missing a vital piece of the puzzle”.
The public is also seen as a valuable source of ideas, as the innovation centre will have an exhibition area where, “the public will be able to come in and see what innovation is currently being worked on, and they’ll also be able to offer some of their ideas. Some people actually have great ideas but just don’t know how to take it to the next level.”
There is a clear intent for the precinct to be inclusive of everyone in the community and to not be restricted in the source of ideas or type of innovation, as Leena says, “we actually want diversity in the types of innovation we pursue, we want to bring the best minds to the centre and we don’t want to exclude an opportunity that could be a breakthrough for health. Putting a lot of rules and exception around an innovation centre is a sure recipe it will fail. Innovation stems from creativity and thinking outside the box, so too much red tape will stop innovation. Of course like any organisation, there will need to be operating rules and policies but the intent is to bring together different people who by applying their area of expertise can jointly create something special”.
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