A focus on precision medicine: Australia is redefining its national digital health strategy

Australia is set new priorities for digital health in the medium term as the healthcare system meets the increasing demand for precision medicine.

The federal government recently announced the updated National Digital Health Strategy 2023-2028, which supports healthcare. towards personalized and preventive healthcare.

WHAT’S IN IT

The five-year strategy, which builds on the foundations laid by the first strategy implemented between 2018 and 2022, now envisions β€œan inclusive, sustainable and healthier future for all Australians through a connected and digitally enabled healthcare system.”

It identifies four so-called ‘change enablers’ that will bring about changepromotes the achievement of four targeted health care system outcomes.

Change enablers:

β€’ Policies and regulations that cultivate adoption, use, and innovation in digital health

β€’ Secure, targeted and connected digital solutions

β€’ Digitally ready and enabled healthcare and wellness workforce

β€’ Informed, confident consumers and healthcare providers with strong digital health skills

Results:

β€’ Digitally possible: Health and wellbeing services are connected, safe, secure and sustainable

β€’ Person-oriented: Citizens are empowered to take care of their health and well-being, equipped with the right information and tools

β€’ Inclusive: Citizens have equal access to healthcare anytime and anywhere

β€’ Data-driven: Data is readily available and informs decision-making at the individual, community and national levels

The strategy also comes with a roadmap outlining the scope, approach, governance, key inputs, partners and priority actions to achieve the vision.

The following have been identified as priority areas in achieving the targeted results of the strategy:

Digitally possible

Person-oriented

  • Support strong consumer digital health literacy

  • Increase the availability of health information

  • Improve consent management and flexible health information exchange

Inclusive

  • Improve and expand virtual care

  • Integrate personal devices

  • Support equitable access to healthcare

Data-driven

  • Use health information for research and public health purposes

  • Plan for emerging data sources and technologies such as artificial intelligence, spatial data and genomics

  • Monitor and evaluate results and progress

The ADHA will use the Fivefold goal for healthcare improvement framework to measure the success of the strategy in five areas: health outcomes, sustainability, patient experience, provider well-being, and experience and equity. A baseline report is expected by the end of the first year of implementation.

THE BIG TREND

The updated National Digital Health Strategy is complemented by the Ministry of Health and Aged Care’s 10-year agenda Digital Health Blueprint and its action plan, released before the new year.

The Government is committed to making improvements to digital health as Australians’ demand for data and technology-driven care grows over the years, exacerbated by recent events such as the global pandemic, floods and bushfires. For example, the use of telehealth during the pandemic grew exponentially, with 118 million services delivered to 18 million patients and more than 95,000 practitioners using telehealth services. The government is emphasizing that the next phase of the healthcare system’s digital transformation will not require Australians to retell their health story, but rather their health information should be able to follow them wherever they go.

A testament to the government’s deep commitment to improving digital health is the almost billion Australian dollars invested over the past two years.

ON THE RECORD

β€œSignificant reforms will be needed to ensure that policies and regulations support the adoption, use and innovation of digital health. The healthcare workforce needs to be supported to be digitally ready. We must embrace the opportunities presented by digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, genomics and other emerging technologies, to better use data to improve health outcomes and create a healthcare system that is fairer and more person-centred. based care, relieve pressure on the workforce and improve sustainability by reducing fragmentation and duplication,” Health Minister Mark Butler said in the foreword to the National Digital Health Strategy 2023-2028.

β€œIn an era of precision medicine, characterized by healthcare innovations such as wearable technology and AI-driven genomic research, we are witnessing a paradigm shift towards personalized and preventive healthcare. The National Digital Health Strategy is essential to support this shift while ensuring a connected, safe, inclusive and ethical healthcare system, supported by robust legislation,” said Amanda Cattermole, CEO of ADHA, in a press release.