We generally start a new year hoping it will be an improvement on its predecessor. In 2021, this is probably more apt than any year since 1945 when there was hope for an end to war.


Dr Joe Kosterich, Clinical Editor

Dr Joe Kosterich, Clinical Editor

Albert Einstein reputably said that a problem cannot be solved at the level of its creation – the solution must come from a higher level. In the 1890s, concern grew about horse manure in city streets. A three-day conference to solve the issue ended with no plan. The problem was ultimately solved by Henry Ford. The car was not designed to remove horse droppings but solved the problem – from a higher level.

Conversely, lack of innovation can see problems persist.

The release of historic cabinet papers from 2000 revealed that a $500 million package to “improve regional health and increase GP numbers in the bush” was a key health policy. A strategy was advised to double the number of doctors working in regional areas over four years. The Aged Care Act 1997 was amended in 2000 following reports of residents being bathed in kerosene. The department noted that the public had concerns about the quality of residential care.

Sounds familiar. 

Innovation drives human progress yet is often resisted at first. Hand washing when proposed by Ignatius Semmelweis was strongly opposed by the ‘experts’ of his day. Closer to home Barry Marshall’s ideas were far from welcomed when first raised.

The rollout of COVID vaccines will require innovation as a program of this magnitude been never been undertaken before.


Innovation drives human progress yet is often resisted at first. Hand washing when proposed by Ignatius Semmelweis was strongly opposed by the ‘experts’ of his day. Closer to home Barry Marshall’s ideas were far from welcomed when first raised. 

This issue examines innovations and trends in medicine. There are articles on new methods of service delivery in mental health and also palliative care. Both are pivoting to a patient-centric model. Technology trends are examined including an app which is assisting COVID diagnosis, which was developed collaboratively in Berlin, Rome and Perth.

In July, the Voluntary Assisted Dying laws, which were passed in late 2019, take effect and this is also examined.

The rollout of COVID vaccines will require innovation, as a program of this magnitude been never been undertaken before. If two shots are required and a target of 95% population coverage is set, then this means five to six times an annual flu vaccination season (based on a single shot in 30-35% of people). We will all need to be flexible.

History records that 1945 delivered on its promised hope. The promised hope for 2021 is that families are reunited, and we get our lives and freedoms restored. Let us hope 2021 delivers.