The National Digital Health Strategy defines strategic priority outcomes to be achieved by 2022. The seven priority areas are derived from the consultation process and associated research. They articulate a set of shared outcomes for all stakeholders that complement existing investments in digital health initiatives and will enable health innovation and improved health and care experiences to be delivered.
This will result in measurable benefits for patients, carers, healthcare providers and the broader health system. The following information shows the vision, key themes and strategic priorities.
Better health for all Australians enabled by safe, seamless, secure digital health services and technologies that provide a range of innovative, easy to use tools for both patients and providers.
More than 3000 people attended the 103 forums, workshops, webcasts and town hall meetings held across Australia. Over 1000 submissions and survey responses were analysed for key themes. Four key themes emerged, forming the foundation of the National Digital Health Strategy.
These themes have been used as a key input and inform all elements of this strategy.
By 2022, the National Digital Health Strategy will deliver the essential, foundational elements of health information that can be safely accessed and easily utilised and shared. Innovators, entrepreneurs and developers will be able to use these foundational elements to develop tools that patients and health professionals can use every day to measurably improve healthcare and health outcomes.
Support me in making the right healthcare choices, and provide me with options.
Help all the people who care for me to understand me, and together, provide safe and personalised care.
Create an environment where my healthcare providers and I can use and benefit from innovative technologies.
Support me in making the right healthcare choices, and provide me with options.
The following section outlines each of the strategic priorities in detail.
1. My Health Record - Health information that is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
By the end of 2018, every Australian will have a My Health Record, unless they choose not to. By 2022 all healthcare providers will be able to contribute to and use health information in My Health Record on behalf of their patients, providing potentially lifesaving access to reports of their medications, allergies, laboratory tests and chronic conditions, and supporting significant improvements in the safety, quality and efficiency of healthcare for the benefit of individuals, the healthcare system and the economy. Patients and consumers will be able to access their health information at any time online and through mobile apps.
My Health Record will be an unprecedented platform for innovation in the provision of digital apps and tools that will support Australians and their health providers to improve health and wellbeing.
2. Secure Messaging - Health information that can be exchanged securely.
Every healthcare provider will have the ability to communicate with other professionals and their patients via secure digital channels by 2022. Patients will also be able to communicate with their healthcare providers using these digital channels. This will end dependence on paper-based correspondence and the fax machine or post.
Digital communication will deliver significant benefits relating to the safety, quality and costs of Australian healthcare as well as improving the continuity and coordination of care, and supporting the development of new methods of diagnosis and specialist referral.
3. Interoperability and Data Quality - High-quality data with a commonly understood meaning that can be used with confidence.
The interoperability of clinical data is essential to high-quality, sustainable healthcare – this means that patient data is collected in standard ways and that it can be shared in real time with them and their providers.
By the end of 2018, a public consultation on draft interoperability standards will confirm an agreed vision and roadmap for implementation of interoperability between all public and private health and care services in Australia. Base-level requirements for using digital technology when providing care in Australia will be agreed, with improvements in data quality and interoperability delivered through adoption of clinical terminologies, unique identifiers and data standards. By 2022, the first regions in Australia will showcase comprehensive interoperability across health service provision.
4. Medicines Safety - Better availability and access to prescriptions and medicines information.
Patients and providers in Australia want safe and convenient digital management of medicines. By the end of 2018, all patients and their providers will have access to comprehensive views of their prescribed and dispensed medications through the My Health Record system. This will reduce the incidence of medication errors and adverse drug events – minimising harm to patients and creating significant cost savings.
By 2022, there will be digitally enabled paper-free options for all medication management in Australia. People will be able to request their medications online, and all prescribers and pharmacists will have access to electronic prescribing and dispensing, improving the safety of our systems.
5. Digitally Enhanced Models of Care - Digitally-enabled models of care that drive improved accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency.
Digital technology can transform outcomes and experiences of different communities in different ways. The strategy proposes a number of pioneering initiatives – co-produced between consumers, governments, researchers, providers and industry – to test evidence-based digital empowerment of key health priorities, investigate and collectively solve any technical obstacles and then, where appropriate, to promote them nationally. These include:
- support for the Health Care Homes trial and more integrated management of chronic illness
- development of new digital services to support the health of babies and young children
- improvement of digital services for advance care planning
- improvement of information sharing in urgent and emergency care
- widening access to telehealth services, especially in rural and remote Australia.
6. Workforce and Education - A workforce confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care.
Healthcare professionals want more support in learning how to maximise the benefits of digital health tools and services. The Australian Digital Health Agency will collaborate with governments, care providers and partners in workforce education to develop comprehensive proposals so that by 2022 all healthcare professionals have access to resources that will support them in the confident and efficient use of digital services. In addition, the strategy proposes rapid promotion of a network of clinician digital health leaders and champions across Australia.
7. Drive Innovation - A thriving digital health industry delivering world-class innovation.
Australians are already choosing to use digital apps, tools and services as the preferred way to manage their personal and professional lives. The consultation process has reinforced the increasing expectation that Australians want to use digital apps and services to support their health and care needs. Healthcare professionals also want to take advantage of innovative tools that are not only safe and secure, but integrate with their workflow and improve efficiency.
The strategy proposes a new initiative to support an expanding set of accredited health apps as well as delivering an improved developer program to enable industry and entrepreneurs to expand existing services and create new ones that meet the changing needs of both patients and providers.
Government will be a platform for industry and innovators to foster an agile and self- improving health system that is sustainable.
Realisation of the benefits that digital health can deliver may require changes in policy as well as health system operation capability enhancements. The National Digital Health Strategy is a strategy for Australia and requires collaboration and cooperation between consumers, health services, governments and industry in order to succeed.