Home' OsteoLife : OsteoLife Spring 2015 Contents 22 Osteopathy Australia
y name is Peter Lalli and I am Osteopathy Australia's new
Policy Officer Clinical Excellence. The role of Policy Officer
Clinical Excellence will help increase recognition of the
profession, expand practice opportunities for members
and establish frameworks for clinical excellence within a range of clinical
Admittedly, I am neither an osteopath nor a clinician. My background
lies in social and public policy, evaluation research and strategic planning
within government and non-government spaces.
I knew very little about osteopathy prior to starting at Osteopathy
Australia. This is despite having worked extensively with allied health
professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and
speech pathologists, to develop new service delivery arrangements
for people with a disability in preparation for the National Disability
Insurance Scheme. I have also worked with doctors, clinical nurse
consultants and dementia experts to improve integrated care
arrangements for older people. Little did I know that there is a
rarely mentioned, but very knowledgeable, close cousin within
the musculoskeletal field of practice. On the other hand, coming
to Osteopathy Australia with little prior knowledge about the
profession, has meant that I have been afforded a blank canvas to
fill, with next to no prior assumptions to formulate my view.
MY OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROFESSION
I want to share a few observations I have made since my start in late
June. I have identified a keenness within the membership to reveal the
workings of the discipline to the unknowing. I have identified significant
diversity within the profession and differences between practitioners
in philosophy and approach. While this is evident in all disciplines to
an extent, its high prevalence within osteopathy signifies to me that
the profession is still growing and identifying its place in the wide
world of modern healthcare. At this particular time, integrated care,
multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in health services
are being emphasised as the way forward to address the growing and
increasingly complex needs of patients. For this reason, there is no
better time for a discipline to be asking existential-type questions.
While I have been fortunate to chat to a good number of
osteopaths, I have observed a world that has closed its ears and built
up barriers to the participation of osteopaths in multiple domains.
I was initially sceptical of the concept of ‘lock-outs’. I wondered
The role of the Policy Officer Clinical Excellence will
help increase recognition of the profession.
how a professional group with such an overall high level of tertiary
education could struggle to be recognised. Then, it became evident.
Looking at university courses, I saw an absence of degrees with an
osteopathic focus. I saw medieval poetry majors made available and
no osteopathy. I saw the degrees of related allied health cousins
being favoured in curriculum design, and again, no osteopathy.
Looking at debates relating to the profession on the internet, I saw
vocal medical practitioners outright rejecting the evidence base
for osteopathy and instead suggest they would always refer their
patients to physiotherapists and other allied health professionals.
Then, speaking to members, I identified a range of government
programs, government income streams and public health settings
that osteopaths have been precluded from joining. I found myself
If there is anything that I have learnt through my experience
in service system design, it would be the following:
• Focused and well-meaning dialogue is effective to establish
relationships and common ground between any professions required
to deliver the outcomes of a service system. (Health, wellbeing, safety
and consumer choice are the goals of modern health services and
these are not possible to achieve under any one profession or system
component.) Therefore, collaboration is key.
• Professions need to be prepared to give, take and to negotiate in
order to deliver service outcomes to those who truly matter – patients
- in a seamless way.
• Capacity is built when a profession obtains a high level of external
validity, achieved when a discipline communicates to those on its
outside that certain minimum requirements and high standards of
practice will be met.
THE MASTER PLAN
This leads me to our plan to move the profession forward. This is to
form expert panels (Clinical Practice Group Leadership Committees)
that will be committed to developing osteopathic practice for the
benefit of members. These panels, working under the supervision of
the organisation, will drive the development of osteopathic quality
frameworks in a range of areas of clinical practice. This will be done in
collaboration with key external stakeholders with an interface to an area
of clinical practice, including, but not limited to primary and secondary
health providers, regulators, government agencies, medical colleges
and patient groups. The objective is to shape osteopathic philosophy
and practice to meet the demands of contemporary healthcare within
specific areas. This will ensure the strong existing skills of members are
built upon in order to provide comprehensive services to more patients.
This approach has been commonplace in most other clinical
disciplines for some time, but is new for osteopathic practice
in Australia. Physiotherapists do this, as do nurses and medical
practitioners. The benefits of this approach are evident from the
example on the next page.
21/09/2015 1:59 pm
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