At the end of December 2023, the Australian Federal Department of Health and Aged Care released their digital health blueprint and action plan (2023 – 2033).
The Digital Health Blueprint outlines the Department’s ten-year vision for Australia’s digital health to continue providing a more connected and sustainable health system. The Action Plan highlights the initiatives the Department is investing in to meet the outcomes outlined in the Blueprint.
In its preamble, the Blueprint introduces the vision for digital health in Australia as: “trusted, timely and accessible use of digital and data underpins a personalised and connected health and wellbeing experience for all Australians”.
It continues by stating “the strategic priorities aim to help Australians access and manage their health information, and strengthen digital health foundations through policy, legislation and standards that are proactive and long-lasting.
These strategic priorities will also support a learning health system by strengthening Australians trust in data and its appropriate sharing and reuse to deliver healthcare improvements and encourage innovation.”
While traditionally “digital health” has been considered as separate domain to Pharma, Bio and MedTech etc., the roadmap and blueprint highlight several trends and implications for companies in this space. Over the next decade, the lines between digital and traditional will continue to blur or evaporate all together.
The Blueprint and Action Plan aim to cover the breadth and depth of the healthcare system. Within this, Commercial Eyes has identified 12 insights that have short- and long-term implications on the sectors in which we work.
The blueprint seeks to advance efficient, flexible, value-based models of healthcare, providing better patient outcomes.
Similarly, the blueprint highlights the importance of leveraging insights from consumers to design user-friendly digital health and wellbeing solutions. This means utilising patient-reported outcomes (PROMs), patient-reported experience measures (PREMs), and other patient-generated data to enhance primary healthcare, mental health services, and aged care.
This focus on value-based models reflects a commitment to improving patient care by emphasising efficiency and flexibility in healthcare delivery.
This approach emphasises the importance of patient-centric data in improving healthcare delivery. It opens opportunities for developing more personalised healthcare solutions. Pharma, Bio, and MedTech companies can gain valuable insights into patient needs and preferences, leading to more effective and tailored products. Value-based care has not matured past pilot stage in Australia which far behind places like the US. Organisations with PROMs/PREMs in their service model are not aligned to Australia’s traditional activity-based model but this may change over the next decade.
The blueprint highlights greater investment to translate research and innovation into new and improved models of care.
This increased investment signifies a strong commitment to evolving the healthcare landscape through cutting-edge research and innovative care models. It indicates a shift towards more advanced, efficient, and effective healthcare delivery systems. It is important to monitor and analyse the areas of research and innovation that are receiving increased investment to align business and product development strategies with these emerging models of care.
The blueprint prioritises actions that ensure healthcare providers and consumers will have access to self-monitoring apps and devices, electronic referrals, telehealth services and systems that support care coordination across multiple providers.
This focus on digital tools and platforms indicates a shift towards a more integrated and patient-centric healthcare model.
Leveraging digital technologies like self-monitoring apps and telehealth creates an opportunity for improved patient engagement, better health outcomes, and streamlined healthcare delivery.
Companies will find an increasing demand for products that integrate with digital health platforms and contribute to coordinated care and will be required to navigate the complexity of market access and heath technology assessment environment.
The blueprint highlights regulatory settings and systems must adapt and respond to evolving technology to ensure clarity in the sector and foster investor confidence.
This recognition underscores the necessity for regulatory agility to keep pace with technological advancements, providing clarity and instilling confidence among companies and investors. It may include specific regulatory requirements for digital health, however there’s currently no additional detail confirming this. This is a space to watch.
The Australian Government is currently consulting with states and territories, through the Health Technology and Genomics Collaboration, on the establishment, design, and remit of a new national genomics body. This is part of the action plan, currently in the planning phase, with a short-term horizon.
This move signifies a strong commitment to advancing genomics in healthcare, potentially leading to significant developments in personalised medicine and genetic research. The establishment of a national genomics body could streamline research efforts and policymaking in this field.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is collaborating with other major regulatory agencies in the International Medical Device Regulators Forum to establish an optimal regulatory approach for AI-enabled medical devices, balancing safety, effectiveness, and timely market access.
This collaboration reflects the growing importance of AI in medical devices and the need for a regulatory framework that ensures their safety and efficacy while also facilitating innovation and market access. It indicates a forward-thinking approach to emerging technologies in healthcare. This is a space to watch.
The blueprint focuses on investments in data collection, analysis, and infrastructure to optimise the health system’s value and reduce low-value care. It calls out the need for implementing agreed standards for accessing trusted and reusable data to support service planning and sustainability.
These investments indicate a shift towards a more data-driven healthcare system. The emphasis on standardisation and reusable data will lead to more efficient and effective healthcare services. This means a growing importance of integrating data capabilities into products and services.
The Australian government is committed to ensuring security, privacy, and transparency in digital health, with strong national cybersecurity measures and transparent access controls to protect data privacy. Ensuring resilience and robustness of national systems is critical for continuous service provision, regardless of community challenges.
This commitment reinforces the importance of data security and privacy in the healthcare sector. It highlights the need for robust cybersecurity and transparent practices in handling sensitive health information. This is crucial for maintaining public trust and the integrity of digital health systems. Implementing robust security measures and compliance with national data privacy regulations will become a requirement.
The Australian government intends to create responsive and timely legislation, regulations, and policies for emerging data sources and technologies, facilitating the development of healthcare solutions like remote care, smart homes, and community-based services. This shift aims to move the focus of care from hospitals to homes, embracing an agile approach to technologies and government processes.
This initiative indicates a progressive shift towards more flexible, technology-driven healthcare solutions. By prioritising adaptable legislation and regulations, the government is facilitating the integration of innovative technologies into healthcare, potentially transforming how care is delivered. There will be new market opportunities created by these legislative changes, particularly in areas like remote healthcare, smart home technology, and community-based services.
The blueprint targets outcomes that help healthcare providers to deliver more effective and timely healthcare through informative, evidence-based clinical decision support systems and data-driven insights.
This focus on evidence-based clinical decision support systems and data-driven insights indicates a move towards more informed, efficient, and patient-centric healthcare delivery. It underscores the growing importance of data analytics and evidence-based tools in improving healthcare outcomes. Positioning products as contributors to evidence-based healthcare solutions may support greater traction within public and private health settings.
The blueprint outlines a need for the use and enhancement of clinical systems that allow the easy sharing of data across a federated data ecosystem of clinical and other health systems.
The Department is working with the health sector and the standards community to actively support collaborative standards development and adoption by the healthcare software industry.
This collaboration is set up to ensure the definition, capture, and use of data standards such as SNOMED CT-AU and HL7 Fast Health Interoperable Resources (FHIR®). These standards enable diverse clinical systems to integrate seamlessly and share data more efficiently. Products/platforms that capture and work with patient data and are seeking to integrate with the public healthcare system should adopt these data standards as a minimum requirement of market entry.
The Australian digital health industry is set to engage with the global digital health market through enhanced research and innovation collaborations among software developers, device manufacturers, and digital care model creators.
This initiative highlights a growing trend towards international collaboration and innovation in digital health. It presents significant opportunities for companies in the digital health space, including software development, device manufacturing, and digital care model creation.
Where to From here?
The rapidly evolving digital health landscape offers incredible opportunities for innovation and growth. The roadmap has a long horizon with many priorities, and some will gather momentum faster than others. We’re here to guide you through these exciting changes.
From navigating new AI medical device regulations to integrating cutting-edge genomics into growth strategies, we are constantly working to transform challenges into opportunities and make an impact on the future of human health. Reach out to us and let’s craft a future where your business sets the benchmark in healthcare innovation.