Media release - Day dawns on Australia’s Digital Health Strategy

3 July 2018: Australians will be able to access new digital services that help them take more control of their health and wellbeing following the official launch of Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy – Safe, Seamless, and Secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia.

The strategy will help deliver improved services including digital baby books for new parents, and coordinated real time care for patients with chronic illnesses. In addition, GPs and other health professionals will no longer need to use fax machines to communicate key clinical reports, as they will transition to safer digital health services.

The strategy has a clear plan for collaboration and action to improve health outcomes for all Australians. All Australian governments, industry, and providers have developed the first Framework for Action under the strategy. The framework promotes collaboration and information sharing, and acts as a guide for organisations recalibrating their work programs to deliver national priorities.

The Australian Digital Health Agency, in consultation with the states and territories, has developed the framework to support the implementation of the strategy.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Framework for Action was developed in consultation with key health and consumer stakeholders and will act as a roadmap of high quality digital healthcare.

“My Health Record will help save and protect lives, and it will offer increasing clinical utility in our health system in the future.”

“Key projects will be tested and scaled nationally to help deliver improved treatment decisions and coordination of care, and reduced hospital admissions and duplication of medical tests,” Mr Hunt said.

The Framework for Action outlines seven priority areas prioritised for delivery between 2018 and 2022 to realise the benefits of digitally enabled health and care. These priorities include health information that can be exchanged securely, made available when and where needed, and standardised so that it can be shared in real time.

Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said that significant progress has been made since the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council approved the strategy in 2017.

“Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy and the Framework for Action are the chief enablers in digital health transformation and it is exciting to see our state and territory partners supporting this initiative, and contributing their expertise and experience to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

“The Agency’s top priority is the creation of a My Health Record for every Australian, unless they choose not to have one during the 16 July to 15 October 2018 opt out period.

“We have also made good progress with ending the use of fax machines in healthcare. Key industry players including the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) have agreed to adopt the tools, processes, and standards that will help solve the interoperability problems across secure messaging and clinical information systems. This is a significant step forward,” Mr Kelsey said.

State and territory ministers support digital health services
There is widespread government support for the Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy and the Framework for Action. Australia’s state and territory governments are implementing a range of digital health projects that will help inform nationally scalable solutions.

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard has welcomed the Framework for Action, which is aligned with transformational digital health programs currently underway in NSW.

“NSW Health will continue the implementation of enhancements to the state’s electronic medical record system which is now used in 157 hospitals across the State, supporting clinicians with timely access to the information they need to provide safer and more coordinated care,” Mr Hazzard said.

“NSW is firmly committed to the Framework for Action and we already have some building blocks in place. NSW Health operates HealtheNet, a central clinical repository providing a statewide view of clinical history, which is also able to share information with a patient's My Health Record and send electronic discharge summaries to GPs.”

Victoria's Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said her department is implementing a $124 million electronic medical records system across the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health and Royal Women’s Hospital and will link patient records with the Royal Children’s Hospital. The Victorian Department is also implementing prescription monitoring and telehealth solutions.

“Victoria is reducing deaths from high-risk medicines by implementing SafeScript, Victoria’s $29.5 million real time prescription monitoring system. It will support health professionals with real time alerts to their clinical desktops and access to patient histories for high-risk medicines, to help them save lives.

“And doctors treating the sickest children in Gippsland will now have a direct video link to world-leading experts in paediatric care thanks to Victorian-first telehealth technology at the newly-opened Monash Children’s Hospital,” Ms Hennessy said.

Queensland Minister for Health Mr Steven Miles said that the rollout of the state’s digital hospital program, including the implementation of the integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR), is reducing errors, improving patient outcomes, and reducing costs.

“By 2020, 80 per cent of patients receiving public healthcare in Queensland will be treated in a digital hospital. Electronic medical records can be accessed in real time by simply scanning a unique bar code on the patient’s identity wristband with a handheld device. This tool, among others, is showing remarkable improvements in patient outcomes,” Mr Miles said.

WA Minister for Health Roger Cook said that the state’s government departments can no longer work in isolation to address some of the most significant health issues facing the community.

"Our health services must become more efficient and effective, which means progressing towards a digital health system, focusing on reducing waste and encouraging innovative practice. A co-ordinated and collaborative approach across several agencies is essential to achieve progress.

“WA Health has invested in Pharmacy Automation systems at Perth Children’s Hospital which provide an automated drug inventory management system. We are also expanding the state’s telehealth services to increase patient access to a continuum of care in country areas,” Mr Cook said.

SA Minister for Health Stephen Wade said SA Health has implemented a range of digital technologies to support a high level of interoperability and information flow.

“South Australia will contribute to ensuring health information is available whenever and wherever it is needed by enabling the viewing of the My Health Record in its facilities, and developing capability to upload pathology reports and medical imaging reports to the system.

“SA Health’s Virtual Clinical Care trial will also enable patients with chronic disease who are living at home or in aged care facilities to be monitored so that early detection of symptom changes and early intervention can be provided,” Mr Wade said.

Tasmania's Minister for Health Michael Ferguson said his department is implementing a range of digital health initiatives.

“Tasmania’s Department of Health has developed the Drugs and Poisons Information System Online Remote Access, a web-page based information system that provides clinicians with timely and secure access to a DHHS database to view clinical information and dispense data relating to opioids,” Mr Ferguson said.

Acting ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing Shane Rattenbury said that ACT Health focuses on delivering patient focused solutions.

“ACT Health is implementing clinical systems that provide a consolidated, secure shareable patient- centric health record enabling information to be available to the right person at the right place and time.

“ACT Health is also committed to supporting My Health Record. We began uploading hospital discharge summaries in 2013 and pathology results and diagnostic imaging reports from the Canberra Hospital this year,” Minister Rattenbury said.

NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said that her department is funding the Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program.

“This program will create a jurisdiction-wide single integrated client-centric health record for NT Health, allowing better connectivity between NT Health and My Health Record. Telehealth NT also includes seven service domains to allow patients in remote areas to connect with healthcare providers in major centres,” Ms Fyles said.

Further information

ENDS

Media contact
Agency Media Team
Mobile: 0428 772 421 Email: [email protected]

About the Australian Digital Health Agency
The Agency is tasked with improving health outcomes for all Australians through the delivery of digital healthcare systems, and implementing Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy – Safe, Seamless, and Secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia. in collaboration with partners across the community. The Agency is the System Operator of My Health Record, and provides leadership, coordination, and delivery of a collaborative and innovative approach to utilising technology to support and enhance a clinically safe and connected national health system. These improvements will give individuals more control of their health and their health information, and support healthcare providers to deliver informed healthcare through access to current clinical and treatment information. Further information: www.digitalhealth.gov.au.

About the Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy
The Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy is the product of detailed consultation and co-production with patients, consumers and carers – and the healthcare professionals, industry, organisations and innovators who serve them. It draws on evidence of clinical and economic benefit from many sources within Australia and overseas.

About the Framework for Action
The Framework for Action is the result of co-production between the Agency and its many partners in the community. It has been developed as part of last year’s comprehensive national consultation to develop the Strategy, when the Agency spoke to over 3000 people at over 100 meetings across urban and regional Australia, and received over 1000 written submissions.

The Framework will promote the ways organisations, including peak medical organisations, researchers, healthcare providers, the industry and technology sector and government – the digital health ecosystem – are working together to help empower people, and those who care for them, with modern digital services and products.

Media release - Day dawns on Australia’s Digital Health Strategy (PDF, 265KB)