Executive Summary

Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy details a vision, based on an evidence base of benefits, and outlines tangible outcomes that have been committed to by the health ministers from every Australian government. The Framework for Action supports this vision and the outcomes of the seven strategic priorities by articulating the actions and initiatives that are necessary to deliver the benefits of digitally enabled health and care to all Australians.

The framework focuses on the initiatives and programs prioritised for co-development overthe life of the strategy, and those that are being implemented or planned by Australian governments, the innovation sector, peak medical bodies, consumer organisations, researchers and others, Subsequent editions of the framework will include updates to the existing content as the national digital health program evolves over time.

The Agency has developed this first edition of the framework through extensive consultation with the Australian community and comprehensive analysis of the evidence. Activity choices and the roles of participants are drawn from what the Agency heard during the national consultation, and supported by the Agency’s further engagement with the people and organisations who will have a role in delivering them.

Key health information will be available whenever and wherever it is needed through the successful delivery of a My Health Record for every Australian, unless they choose not
to have one, and by providing a data platform that supports clinicians and improves health outcomes by increasing available and relevant content, improving usability and supporting future developments.

Australian governments will invest in and operate in the technical infrastructure required to interact with and protect the integrity of the My Health Record system, and through delivery partners, including Primary Health Networks and local health services, will deliver awareness, education, readiness and change management support to healthcare providers across the healthcare system. Organisations will work together to secure My Health Record information enabling researchers to better understand and respond to public health trends, while preserving trust and respecting people’s right to privacy.

Ensuring that health information can be exchanged securely will rely on healthcare providers being able to find each other through a trusted national provider addressing service, and having confidence their message is read at the other end, exactly as intended. Priority actions will include the technology and healthcare industry working towards the adoption of agreed tools, processes and standards to solve the interoperability problems across secure messaging and clinical information systems.

In managing and funding state-operated services, Australian governments will lead local strategies and programs which support national initiatives to enable secure messaging capability. The Agency will lead the development of a roadmap to leverage national infrastructure to improve the experiences of both consumers and clinicians in their daily interactions with the health system.

Enabling the exchange of high quality data with a commonly understood meaning that can be used with confidence will be guided by a national interoperability roadmap that will be co-developed with all participants in the digital health ecosystem and the broader Australian community. It will result in an agreed set of national interoperability specifications and standards, accreditation regimes and procurement requirements, and a range of initiatives needed as a result of engaging the broader population in a discussion about how best to access and benefit from health information.

Australian governments are working to clarify how existing digital health foundation infrastructure services and different streams of government technology relating to health integrate and align, as well as promoting improvements in data quality. In partnership with industry, they will co-design standards and specifications with a focus on ensuring that their clinical and business needs are being supported by their systems, including the need to communicate with other systems, and will conform to standards as part of the evaluation criteria used in procurement processes when upgrading or replacing existing systems.

Better availability and access to prescriptions and medicines information will be delivered through a commitment across all relevant organisations to drive improved quality along the medicine use cycle and reduce unnecessary harm to patients by helping practitioners make better decisions, providing them with patient medicine information and appropriate options and tools to reduce clinical variation. The framework prioritises the co-development of a digital medicines program blueprint to implement digital services and solutions to increase the safety, quality and efficiency of medicines use across health and care.

The software and technology sector is taking a lead role in developing technical solutions that provide paper-optional prescribing, and giving prescribers, pharmacists, care providers and consumers access to real time and best possible medicines information. Australian governments are investing in electronic medications management to support healthcare professionals
to prescribe, order, check, reconcile, dispense and record the administration of medicines,
and capture a patient’s current medicines and allergy information in a structured, coded, standardised and shareable form.

Digitally enabled models of care that improve accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency will be tested through a number of pioneering initiatives addressing priority health reform areas, such as getting the best use of telehealth and improving chronic disease management. Test bed projects will be established assessing new digitally enabled models of care that are instigated and delivered through sustainable and viable partnerships between industry, government and other organisations. 

State and territory governments have commenced leading digitally enabled models of care which are being tested at the local level, to support the harmonising and scaling of existing best-practice-based evidence about what works, and what can be integrated into existing clinical workflows.

A workforce confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care will be required to address the technology adoption challenge, reflected in the needs expressed during the National Digital Health Strategy consultation process, which calls for supporting the workforce to better adapt to, use and embrace the changes and opportunities created by digital health innovation. This is even more important for the next generation of healthcare providers and patients, who rightly expect digital solutions available in other industries to help improve health and care.

Peak organisations are holding workshops, seminars and training days to provide instruction and promote adoption of digital technology in care settings. Some organisations are using digital tools, including virtual reality, to directly train their workforce. Australian governments are working to design, deliver and evaluate education and training programs to embed digital health into routine clinical practice for clinical, corporate and support staff, including VET, vocational, undergraduate, professional entry and clinical trainees and new graduates.

A thriving digital health industry delivering world class innovation will be led by a digital industry working closely with healthcare practitioners, consumers and the research community.  Research and development is a key priority for the technology sector who are focused on responding to the needs of healthcare consumers and the healthcare providers who serve them. Tracking patient journeys, using analytic algorithms to predict hospital service demand, and investing in research partnerships are just some of the ways Australian companies are identifying innovations to support new models of care, designing consumer products and services, and trialling digital interventions to improve personal healthcare and wellbeing.

Australian governments are fostering an environment that supports digital health innovation by creating spaces for exchanging ideas, gaining new insights, and demonstrating how digital technology is contributing to the health system, and looking at the innovations that are on the horizon. States and territories are also partnering with organisations, and supporting small businesses, that are designing products that have high potential for commercialisation.