A NSW Government website


Patient advocate pushes for humanity in healthcare

Harry Iles-Mann wants the patient voice at the centre of innovation in health.

A person presenting from a lectern.
SydneyConnect Image: Patient advocate and health strategist, Harry Iles-Mann, presenting at the Sydney Research and Innovation Symposium

"People, perspectives and experiences remain our most powerful drivers of research and innovation. The future of health is human."

In a space where tech and digital solutions were the focus of discussion, Harry Iles-Mann gave a crucial reminder of what is truly important in healthcare.

Harry, a patient advocate and health strategist, was a keynote speaker at the Sydney Research and Innovation Symposium, held by Sydney Local Health District during Innovation Week 2022.

His address to the event, where the theme was 'Connection. Collaboration. Dreaming big for a bright future', centred on championing humanity in healthcare.

Few would be better placed to talk about new thinking in health.

Harry has lived with chronic illnesses from the age of three. Now aged 26, he has survived liver failure, two liver transplants and mental health challenges and has lived through the COVID-19 pandemic while immunocompromised.

His lived experiences have shaped his view that patients and their voices should be at the centre of conversations about innovation in health.

"The first step towards effectively championing humanity in our health system is to recognise the countless lived experiences of millions of champions in our own communities and within our own ranks," he said.

He wants every patient to have a positive experience.

"My own story is an example of what happens when trust and connectedness are embedded in the way that we design and provide care. The value of tethering decision making and innovation to the humanity and the human experiences at the core of our care provision cannot be overstated."

Harry also sat on a panel discussing ideas for the future of healthcare alongside NSW Customer Service and Digital Government Minister Victor Dominello, NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce, Healthdirect Australia's Chief Executive Officer Bettina McMahon, and the founder of Creative Careers in Medicine Dr Amandeep Hansra.

When asked what patients really want from healthcare, Harry said human interactions shouldn't be lost in the pursuit of tech and digital solutions.

"Unless we're able to consistently provide a high quality and a very safe level of human-based care interactions for our patients… a lot of the innovation piece itself is probably not going to be as impactful as it should be."

Reflecting off-stage, Harry said that he was "very, very happy" to be able to attend in person.

"As someone who has been immunocompromised the past two and a half years have been pretty difficult for those of us that are vulnerable," he said.

"For me it's as much a sociable thing, being able to reconnect with the community that I owe the quality of my care to, also colleagues and people that I work with and leaders in this space."