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Meet Wendy - Partner, Consulting

Meet Wendy Lai, one of the Partners in our Consulting team focused on Core Business Operations.

How did your passion for healthcare start and what was the motivation for pursuing a career in healthcare?

My first engagement in the healthcare field was a provider performance assessment, which exposed me to the inner workings of a hospital system. I found myself conversing with surgeons and anesthetists in operating rooms, visiting various departments like the Trauma Service Unit (TSU), Emergency Departments (EDs), and wards. How could I not feel challenged and excited about the opportunity to assist the brightest minds in collaborating to enhance the overall health of the system?

However, as time went on, I began to perceive the personal aspect of healthcare. I realised that the system's complexity poses a significant challenge for my parents, who are intelligent but elderly, as well as for my children and siblings. Accessing healthcare becomes difficult if we don't know how to ask the right questions. In my view, health is one of the fundamental human rights, as stated in Article 24 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples signed in Australia in 2009.

What motivated you to pursue this specialisation over other fields within the healthcare industry?

I was a member of our Monitor health strategy team, and while I enjoyed my role, I firmly believe that a good strategy requires a sense of "breath". That's why my emphasis on performance and delivering results, as well as collaborating with leaders and front-line individuals, came naturally to me. I find great passion in innovation, especially when it's enabled by technology. Even in resource-constrained situations, I find the drive to persevere and seek innovative solutions. Drawing inspiration from movies like "The Shawshank Redemption," I see resilience, courage, hope, and innovation as integral aspects of success.

Could you provide a brief overview of your professional journey leading up to your current role?

I began my professional journey as an economist, working for my family’s owned business. However, my aspiration to create a greater impact motivated me to pursue additional studies and delve into the field of consulting. I started my consulting career in New Zealand, where I assumed the roles of S&O, NZ Healthcare and Consulting FSI leader at various points in my professional trajectory. I had the opportunity to undertake secondments and engage in overseas projects and subsequently, I transferred to the Southeast Asia firm, assuming the position of S&O leader, before joining the Australian firm two years ago.

What skills and capability do you bring to transform health?

I have gained experience in a number of diverse areas, including leading clinical services planning, where I had the opportunity to learn from Luke Baxby and Ryan McFarlane through to EMR implementations which included site master planning and new hospital development; to care services transformation. I have also served on health boards as a government appointee given my performance and operations excellence experience.

What can you tell us about your role at Deloitte and the work you're involved in?

My role as the Lead Client Service Partner (LCSP) for Health in NSW can be characterised into 3 categories:

  1. Engaging with the market and cultivating relationships with Ministers and leaders in NSW Health. This ensures that there is a clear understanding of Deloitte's contributions and the value we bring.
  2. Helping our leaders and team to win more work; build better relationships; deliver quality projects and outcomes
  3. Taking the lead in delivering engagements. This not only helps me gain a deeper understanding of our target market but also provides me with opportunities for personal growth. Additionally, it allows me to connect with our teams on a deeper level and lead by example, empathising with their experiences.

What notable achievements or initiatives have you led that have had a significant impact on healthcare outcomes?

Integrated locality health services where we devolved secondary / tertiary funding to a joint governance group based around primary and community care providers, alongside skills and capabilities from hospital systems to enable health care decisioning closer to the people it is intended to serve.

Additionally, we integrated social providers (education, welfare, health, public housing, correctional services, police etc) with a specific focus on serving a particular community and developed an intervention hierarchy of needs.

What impact are you looking to have on the sector and what is your vision for the future of healthcare?

I am passionate about contributing to the efforts that facilitate Australia's transition towards improved population health management. My focus lies in fostering better integration between primary/community care and secondary/tertiary care, and subsequently shifting our focus towards wellness and prevention. I am particularly interested in exploring solutions to some of the challenges that face our rural and regional areas, and finding the most effective ways to deliver high-quality care to prioritised communities. A crucial component of addressing this challenge lies in embracing digitisation and implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR).

Anything else? We are keen to showcase stories that reflect the diversity of our Health work and more importantly, our Health team. Is there anything else you’d like to add or include in your story?

I come from a Chinese heritage that values a strong sense of community and shared culture. This means that ‘the person before you stands on the shoulders of many, and the wellness of the community is integral to my well being’. In saying this, I would like to share two aspects: the significance of integrated medicine – connecting the mind, body, spirit, nature, community and the universe. We all are aware of the growing mental health burden. While pharmaceuticals and other interventions are valuable, mental health is not solely an individual concern; it is also influenced by the well-being of the community one belongs to. In order to address the escalating challenges of mental health, it is crucial to reflect on the state of well-being within our communities.

Lastly, there is a Chinese proverb that states, "The superior doctor prevents sickness; the mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; the inferior doctor treats actual sickness." This proverb highlights the importance of proactive healthcare. Personally, I aspire to contribute to the development of a superior Australian health system, one that focuses on preventive measures to maintain overall well-being and prioritises the health its population.