Personal experience was the driving force behind Chris O’Brien’s mission to transform the cancer care system in Australia. Having been through it himself, he understood the need for the best possible support.
Chris’s aim was to make sure cancer patients would no longer have to navigate the many different areas of cancer care by themselves. His vision was realised in 2013 when Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer treatment centre opened to outpatients.
While the centre doesn’t look or feel like a traditional hospital, the real differentiating qualities of the building lie beyond its aesthetics.
Chief Executive Officer Eileen Hannagan explains: “Surgeons, oncologists, psychiatrists, nurses and researchers all work under one roof. This allows a more co-ordinated approach to treatment. Returning to the same place to see the same doctors, nurses and staff is a great comfort to our patients.”
The extensive use of glass throughout the building was also a considered decision.
“Patients told us that every time they come across a wall or a closed door it creates fear - fear of the unknown ... That’s why you see so much glass. The premise behind this is that there’s nothing to hide, and this helps alleviate fear,” Eileen says.
Although Chris O’Brien Lifehouse uses some of the most advanced surgical hardware in the world, there is another type of innovation taking place that is less apparent.
“We have reallt focused on creating a culture that supports and gives permission to a different type of thinking in healthcare. Two young registrars at the hospital, for example, spoke to us a couple of years ago about an app they wanted to develop an app to support patients during their cancer journey. We worked beside them every step of the way to ensure they got it off the ground. CancerAid is today providing meaningful support for patients across the world,” Eileen says.
“Our approach to cancer treatment will always be science based but it’s a question of being open to new ideas so we can fully discover where the science can take us.”