Message from the CEO

This is a major milestone for digital health in Australia – an authentic testament to co-production between the Australian Digital Health Agency and its many partners in the community".
Tim Kelsey - CEO, Australian Digital Health Agency

I am delighted to confirm that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council has approved Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy (2018-2022).

More than 3000 people attended the 103 forums, workshops, webcasts and town hall meetings undertaken in the “Your health. Your Say” consultation process, and more than 1000 submissions and survey responses were received.

The subsequent development of the Strategy involved all the governments of Australia in close partnership with patients, carers and the clinical professionals who serve them – together with leaders in industry and science. It draws on evidence of clinical and economic benefit from many sources within Australia and overseas, and emphasises the priority of patient confidentiality as new digital services are implemented.

I wish to thank all those who contributed for their efforts and focus, which made it possible to deliver this outcome. Importantly, this is not the Agency’s strategy – this is Australia’s Digital Health Strategy. And we will only be able to achieve what is set out through collaboration and engagement with all Australian governments, industry and the healthcare sector.

Australians are right to be proud of their health services - they are among the best, most accessible, and efficient in the world. Today we face new health challenges and rapidly rising demand for services. It is imperative that we work together to harness the power of technology and foster innovation to support high quality, sustainable health and care for all, today and into the future.

To illustrate the magnitude of some of these challenges, approximately 230,000 medication errors take place in Australia every year. In fact more people die from medication errors in Australia than from road accidents. Between 2 to 3 per cent of hospital admissions in Australia are caused by medication errors. Roughly 10 per cent of GPs waste time every day searching for records through piles of paper that would otherwise be immediately available to them in digital format.

The Strategy – Safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia – identifies seven key priorities for digital health in Australia including delivery of a My Health Record for every Australian by 2018 – unless they choose not to have one. More than 5 million Australians already have a My Health Record, which provides potentially lifesaving access to clinical reports of medications, allergies, laboratory tests, and chronic conditions. Patients and consumers can access their My Health Record at any time online or on their mobile phone.

Implementation of the Strategy will also enable paper-free secure messaging for all clinicians and will set new standards to allow real-time sharing of patient information between hospitals and other care professionals.

With the Strategy now agreed we move into the next phase, which is working with industry, governments, and the sector to develop a Framework for Action. This will be published later in the year.

These are exciting developments, which collectively promise to transform health and care for all Australians.

All the best.

Tim Kelsey
CEO, Australian Digital Health Agency
Follow Tim on Twitter @tkelsey1