Opportunities and challenges in achieving transformational change in allied health: A South Australian experience

Dr Saravana Kumar1, Ms Catherine Turnbull2

1School Of Health Sciences, International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University Of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

2Department for Health and Ageing, South Australia, Adelaide, Australia



Australia is confronted by a number of health care challenges. Successfully addressing these challenges requires a health system which is nimble, responsive to change and takes a system-wide focus. While achieving change in health care is complex, allied health in South Australia has successfully achieved this across a range of professions. This presentation will showcase these and the positive impacts on health care processes and outcomes.


Using a case-study approach, new models of care from allied health disciplines (such as physiotherapy and nutrition and dietetics) and clinical areas (such children’s health and development) were trialled across South Australia. Quantitative (such as waiting time, cost, and safety) and qualitative (patient perspectives) were captured to measure the impact.


The results these case-studies indicated a number of positive impacts on health care processes and outcomes. The new models of allied health care reduced waiting times, improved efficiencies (by reducing cost) and access to care while ensuring safety (no adverse events). Patients were receptive and satisfied with these allied health-led new models of care (with no patient complaints). Implementation of these models of care has highlighted critical success factors which need to be identified early, such as identified need, stakeholder engagement, effective use of data, if successful and sustainable change is to be achieved.

Significance of findings to allied health

South Australia has made significant contributions to transformational change in allied health. Lessons learnt from South Australian experience has national and international significance as change is the new norm in 21st century health care.