Over thirty years of consumer advocacy in health at the national level is reason to ponder the direction of health care and the role consumers and communities will play in shaping our health care future.

It is common belief that we need more preventative and integrated primary health care. The hospital of the future will look very different from the hospital of today. Changes to how health care is delivered aregoing to accelerate at an unprecedented pace driven by digitalisation, consumer expectation and the advent of genomics and precision, personalised medicine.

Consumers will assume a ‘new power’. They will command convenience and access to high value, modern, personalised services that meet their needs. They will expect to have choice and control over the services they pay for. They will be activated more than ever with access to burgeoning information and innovations that will assist them to stay well, self-manage and access quality care tailored to them.

Policy makers, health administrators and clinicians – where decision making power currently rests - will need to learn new ways to harness the transformative role consumers can play as agents of change and to work with this ‘new power’.

Consumer advocacy has already contributed in many ways to shaping our system, but there is still a way to go for this role to be truly valued and to achieve a truly consumer-centred health care system in Australia.

There is more to do to fully realise the many and varied roles that consumers can play in health care. The sooner we do that, the better health system and better experiences consumers will have

This White Paper is the Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s philosophy and aspirations for the future role of consumers shaping health. Over twenty consumers, researchers, clinicians and leaders at the forefront of health policy in Australia, observers from outside the direct health care sector as well as leading global thinking have contributed to the Paper.

Commentators describe the need for fundamental shifts in the way we conceive, finance and organise health care. They point to the value of consumer insights and experiences as the hidden assets in shaping a better system.

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