From 2018 to 2021, the Agency funded a research program to pilot new digitally enabled models of care through partnerships between industry, government and healthcare provider organisations. This program, named the Digital Health Test Beds, funded 15 test beds to stimulate innovation and address Australia’s highest priority health challenges across a range of healthcare settings.
Test beds are exploratory research projects where new innovations and ideas are tested in real-world settings to pilot immediately usable solutions. The Digital Health Test Beds contained 8 technical test beds and 7 implementation test beds.
Technical test beds related to the development and evaluation of digital health solutions. Project teams working on these test beds developed methods to integrate digital health tools into existing clinical workflows, for example by addressing key software interoperability and usability challenges. Technical test bed project teams also worked on developing mobile solutions that put health in patients’ hands and developed infrastructure to enable the use of data for research and public health purposes.
Implementation test beds explored the implementation of new, digital ways of working in healthcare settings. They focused on piloting ways to improve the accessibility and adoption of digital health services through digitising clinical workflows and explored barriers and enablers to implementing Agency initiatives within less digitally mature settings, such as the justice system, private specialist practice and residential aged care.
Each test bed generated learnings specific to project aims and contexts. These are described in more detail in the Digital Health Test Beds Final Report (PDF, 1.66 MB).
Overall learnings from all the test beds are that:
- Generally, consumers and healthcare professionals are positive about adopting digital health solutions, however privacy and digital literacy remain an issue.
- Multiple test beds demonstrated the value of embedding ‘champions’ within digital health implementation teams.
- For digital health solutions to be successfully adopted in complex environments, a clear value proposition to their adoption and use must be immediately demonstrated.
- Large-scale interoperability and governance challenges remain and must be solved before digital health is rolled out at scale.
Actions as a result of the research
Over the life of the Digital Health Test Beds program, learnings have been iteratively and actively fed back to relevant Agency teams to inform workplan priorities planning and activity in a wide range of domains, including Interoperability Plan, mHealth Application Assessment Framework (both currently underway), research and public health proof of concept, healthcare provider and consumer polling, enhancing content and use, Aged Care Program, and the Pharmacy Shared Medicines List. More broadly, learnings are also informing the Agency's customer-centred approach to research and design on both internal and external projects.