Through the Looking Glass – What Does the Future of Regulation and Accreditation Look Like?

March 3rd, 2020

Anton Barnett-Harris

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Physiotherapy Council

Below is an extract from the speech I delivered at the recent NRAS Combined Meeting 2020

My name is Anton Barnett-Harris and I am the CEO with the Australian Physiotherapy Council (the Council), which is the accreditation authority for the physiotherapy profession. We partner with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia to provide accreditation services for over 58 programs in 21 Universities in Australia. We also assess over 500 internationally qualified physiotherapists each year, who are seeking to be registered and practice physiotherapy in Australia. The Council provides similar accreditation services for the Physiotherapy Board of NZ as well.

Over the past few years, the Council’s focus has been filtered through the prism of the “looking glass” – the strange, mysterious, parallel world that imminently awaits us and yet, in so many ways, is already here.  A future where technology, health and human-centred design intersect.  A world where the best of humanity shines and the normal everyday tasks are subsumed by technological changes.

I would like to introduce this session together by sharing with you a Social Media Campaign the Council produced and globally launched in 2019 with the help of renowned futurist, Morris Miselowski.


The inspiration for the campaign was to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Council. Some may ask why would an accreditation authority produce a video like this? SIMPLE.  We believe that accreditation, assessment and regulation, have a deeply vested interest in what lies ahead in an ever-changing global context.

As we work with our University partners, we now KNOW there are critical questions to consider about the future of physiotherapy. Questions which include: What are the future skills physiotherapists will need to possess? What future environments will our physiotherapists work in? and how will they practice in a safe and effective way? These are just some of the key questions that we as regulators, education providers and stakeholders need to be wrestling with and responding to now.

We already see global trends such as:

  • a more transient global workforce
  • impact from artificial intelligence and automation
  • digital disruption; and
  • expectation change with an emphasis on ethics, security and privacy.

What we thought of as being breakthrough ten years ago are now basic expectations. Example – Just consider the expectations around the quality of your camera on your smartphone and think that the first iPhone was released in 2007!

So what do we predict is coming?

There are many penetrating  reports on the future of technology that any one of us can Google to keep abreast of some of the rapid changes. One recent paper from Accenture called TECHNOLOGY VISION 2019 :THE POST-DIGITAL ERA IS UPON US  is a fascinating read.

Accenture talk about a post digital age –

“We as a society are nearing a turning point in digital enterprise, where more businesses will have completed their digital transformations than not. Digital-era technology, which began as a differentiating advantage years ago, is now expected from every business.”

They highlight 4 global trends that we should be positioned to respond to in the next 10 years flowing from this post-digital world, which I thought were really insightful.

  1. DARQ Power – Distributed ledger technology, Artificial Intelligence, Extended reality, and Quantum computing will be the next set of new technologies to spark a step change, letting businesses reimagine entire industries.
  2. Knowing the customer – Technology-driven interactions are creating an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This living foundation of knowledge will be key to not only understanding the next generation of consumers, but also to delivering rich, individualized, experience-based relationships in the post-digital age.
  3. The Change in the workplace and workforce – Workforces are becoming human+: each individual is empowered by their skill sets and knowledge plus a new, constantly growing set of capabilities made possible through technology. Now, companies must adapt the technology strategies that successfully created this next generation workforce to support a new way of working in the post digital age.
  4. Security – it’s time security joins the effort to deliver best-in-class products, services and experiences.
  5. Individualised consumer markets. Technology is creating a world of intensely customised and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organizations to find and capture those opportunities as they come. That means viewing each opportunity as if it’s an individual market—a momentary market.


Does anyone else feel just a little overwhelmed and wonder how to keep up? And what does all this have to do with regulation and accreditation anyway? What might it mean for education providers?

It’s all about relevance!

At the Council, we are seeing a demand for things like “micro-credentialing”, a radical change in expectations of learners with regards to technology solutions and just-in-time learning.

What does the world of post-digital education look like? What does the world of post-digital healthcare look like? These are questions we have to grapple with…These are the questions we can’t afford to ignore!

Consider this verity:  we’re now living in a “post-digital era” and we need to consider how it will affect your world and your role in accreditation and regulation.

So what do you need to adjust to keep relevant?

Thank you.


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