Strategic Priorities

By 2022, the National Digital Health Strategy will deliver the essential, foundational elements of health information that can be safely accessed, easily utilised and shared.

Workforce and Education

6. A workforce confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care.

By developing a workforce that is able to confidently use digital health technologies and services, the following will be delivered by 2022:

  • The Agency will collaborate with governments, care providers and partners in workforce education to develop comprehensive proposals so that by 2022, all healthcare professionals will have access to resources that will support them in confident and efficient use of digital services.
  • Resources and curricula will be developed to ensure all healthcare practitioners are exposed to and trained in digital technologies and their use during training and upskilling.
  • A comprehensive set of clinical resources which clearly outline the evidence for how, when and where digital health should be used in everyday clinical practice.
  • Promotion of a network of chief clinical information champions to drive cultural change and awareness of digital health within the health sector.

Education and Training Request Form

Building tomorrow’s digital health workforce, today

The National Digital Health Strategy can only be achieved through supporting a change management approach within the health and care workforce.[146] Without this focus, there is a significant risk that healthcare providers will not develop the trust and confidence in digital technologies that will deliver significant advances in accessibility, quality, safety and efficiency.[147], [148] The strategy must incorporate the demographics of the health and care workforce and respect the reticence or ambivalence of some members of the health and care workforce.

“Technology on its own, … no matter how effective the platform, will not bring about changes in the behaviours of clinicians. An implementation strategy which addresses the barriers to effective adoption of these technologies will be critical to their success.”
- Pharmaceutical Society of Australia submission

Engaging the sizable health workforce across diverse healthcare sectors, including primary care, acute care, aged care and mental health, and across the large number of health professions and geographies is challenging. However, given that patient care spans all these sectors, it is imperative that the whole health and care workforce is appropriately engaged with emerging digital health technologies and services.[149], [159] For example, Victoria has named digital workforce capability as one of the critical success factors that underpin its digital health goals.[10]

A trained, digitally aware workforce – appropriately equipped with hardware, software and digital literacy – is required.[146], [148], [149] To achieve this strategic goal, the following strategies must be put in place:

  • Help made available – With the right support, healthcare providers will adopt digital health technologies and services if they can be shown how to use them[151] within their healthcare context, and the evidence for doing so. A range of organisations such as the primary health networks and the regional hospital and health networks will be important partners in supporting the health and care workforce at the local level, complemented by national mechanisms, such as the on-demand training functionality run by the Australian Digital Health Agency.

  • Digital health training provided throughout training pathways – Australia must ensure that the health and care workforce is sufficiently supported and informed, with digital health embedded through all training pathways.[149] Innovation in healthcare education is already occurring within the tertiary education sector, with pilot courses on digital health in the planning stages at many Australian universities. Increasing the capability of the university sector to evolve curricula and incorporate digital health into undergraduate and postgraduate courses will ensure students are empowered to confidently and effectively use digital technologies upon graduation.[152]

" If nurses, doctors, administrators and senior managers are familiar with a technology, trained in its use and understand the benefits of its application, there is more chance it will be adopted."
- Australian College of Nursing submission

  • Digital health integrated into national standards – Health and care workers increasingly need a core set of digital competencies to enable them to work safely, efficiently and effectively.[152] More evidence is being gathered which demonstrates that failing to integrate digital health into normal workflows leads to poorer health outcomes for the Australian community.[153], [154] Given this evidence, integration of digital health into national workforce accreditation needs to be led by the professional associations and workforce accreditation bodies, sensitive to the needs of both technophile and technophobe health professionals.

    Healthcare providers should have easy access to best practice guidelines, and other supporting resources, which increase their understanding of how, when and why to use digital health solutions to improve outcomes in their routine clinical practice relating to a variety of illnesses.[155], [156] Clinical leadership networks, professional societies and peak bodies have responsibility for guiding their members on how to embed digital health into routine clinical practice and will be supported by the Australian Digital Health Agency to gather the evidence.

  • A network of clinical digital health champions – A network of clinical digital health champions, who understand the benefits of digital health and encourage the upskilling of the workforce across the health system into the future, is important to build momentum and a critical mass of digital health proponents.[150]

The capture and use of high-quality data and the resulting analytics can drive changes that will lead to a safer, higher quality, more effective health system. However, to achieve this, Australia’s clinicians need to have the relevant skills. Investment in clinical informatics and data analytics as core skills for the modern health workforce is a key strategy.[157]

" Include education, ongoing support and have clinical champions to advocate the use of eHealth technologies."
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners submission

Rural and Regional Health

Australian governments recognise the unique challenges of providing healthcare in rural and remote Australia, and the importance to all Australians of providing timely access to safe, high-quality healthcare services, regardless of where they live.[158] The National Digital Health Strategy contributes to the national objective that “people in rural and remote Australia are as healthy as other Australians” by using technology and information to address systemic issues that require the most attention, including access, appropriate models of care, a sustainable workforce, and the development of collaborative partnerships. Leveraging existing infrastructure to enhance adoption of digital health technologies and services will help overcome issues of distance, as well as rural and regional workforce shortages, and allow for better sharing of information between rural practitioners and other healthcare providers.

“The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine strongly recommends that the National Strategy for Digital Health be structured to support rural communities, and include clear objectives and actions which are designed in consultation with rural and remote practitioners and stakeholders to address their unique needs and circumstances.”
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine submission

Establishing the telehealth test bed will involve co-design of the framework with rural health consumer and healthcare provider organisations, while future uses for national digital health foundations, including enabling new models of care in rural and remote settings, will be co-designed with patients, carers, healthcare providers and other key stakeholders.

How will Australia benefit?

  • All healthcare practitioners will be able to confidently and efficiently use digital technologies and services to interact with patients, use and contribute to their health record and exchange with the rest of the health system.
  • The next generation of health and care workforce will be exposed to and trained in new clinical pathways, digital technologies and the importance of high-quality data.
  • The workforce will be positively engaged on the effect of digital technologies and services on their working lives.

Framework for Action - How Australia will deliver the benefits of digitally enabled health and care

Critical Success Factors of Australia's National Digital Health Strategy