New CEO setting the standard for healthcare

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By Brooke Jacobson

Ensuring high quality healthcare, while supporting patients – that’s the focus for Dr Karen Luxford, the new CEO of the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS).

Dr Luxford comes to the role with more than 20 years of experience in senior executive leadership in health, strategic planning, governance, stakeholder and government relations, safety and quality, professional standards, research, communication strategies and media.

She said she was excited to build on the largest health accreditation agency in Australia.

“My aim is for our organisation to remain responsive to change and innovative in all areas,” she said.

“It’s a really exciting time, there is a lot of change in the sector and we have a change in our population – an ageing population – but also with an increase in technology and an increasing focus on chronic care.

“I can see significant changes in services, in home care, in digital health and in artificial intelligence.

“We’re a responsive organisation, rising to these challenges and the changes in the industry, moving from a process focus to an outcome focus.

“There’s a change in the mode of healthcare delivery and it’s our job to ensure that we support the customer on their health journey.”

Dr Luxford joins the ACHS from the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons where as CEO she led a new strategic direction, improved member benefits, governance changes, new partnerships, hospital training, site accreditation and international partnerships. 

She was formerly at the Clinical Excellence Commission as acting CEO and executive director and has held a range of senior executive leadership roles in health including general manager of the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre. 

The ACHS is an independent, not for profit, organisation dedicated to improving quality in health care.

The council represents government, consumers and peak health bodies from throughout Australia and is considered to be the nation’s leading health care assessment and accreditation provider.

“We have 1500 members and one third of those are in the private sector, we’re in more than 18 countries and we work with professionals, government and industry,” Dr Luxford said.

“Our point of difference is that we have a supportive customer focus and we take a partnership approach to our work.”

Dr Luxford is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and of ISQua. 

She was a Harkness Fellow in 2008/2009 and said she was delighted to see changes in Australia’s corporate landscape, with more women in senior roles.

“You know, it’s fantastic to see more women in senior executive roles and as board chairs – we need to see more women in these roles and it’s important to have diversity and balance,” she said.

“One of the challenges is supporting women and mentoring – and that’s certainly something that I have tried to do; once you become a leader in an organisation, it’s important to give back and to help the next generation.”

Dr Luxford also volunteers as the board chairwoman of Endometriosis Australia.

ACHS President, Professor Len Notaras, said he was delighted with Dr Luxford’s appointment.

 “Karen’s strong leadership track record will further energise ACHS and contribute to the ongoing growth of the organisation which for more than four decades has asserted its importance in the local healthcare arena,” he said.

“I would further take this opportunity to acknowledge the professionalism, innovation and tireless commitment of our retiring CEO Dr Christine Dennis, and thank her for her invaluable contribution over the last five years”.
 
Dr Luxford added she was looking forward to the challenge of her new role.

 “I am greatly looking forward to progressing the strategic direction of the ACHS as it reassures the public of safety and quality in healthcare,” she said.

“I am delighted to be working with all stakeholders, members and staff to ensure the ACHS delivers services of the highest quality in Australia and globally through ACHS International.”

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