About eHealth in Australia
Like most Western economies, Australia’s population is aging. This fact, coupled with the increased complexity of healthcare demands and greatly increased costs, is calling for new preventative approaches together with a focus on quality health outcomes and equality of healthcare access for all Australians.
Demographic studies and overseas experience clearly shows that our healthcare system will need to manage more people with more complex health needs on a reduced tax base.
At the same time our healthcare system must demonstrate value for money, excellence in service delivery, closer involvement of patients in the healthcare process, and the delivery of high quality health outcomes.
With rapid developments in information management and new digital technologies, ICT offers the unprecedented ability to help offset some of the future burdens of healthcare: reduced hospital admissions and length of stay, a reduction in preventable errors, more effective consultations, better preventative care and ultimately more efficiency delivery of services. Therefore, we need to ensure that ICT will have the opportunity to play a lead role in helping to meet and manage Australia’s future healthcare needs.
What is eHealth?
By eHealth we mean:
- Electronic health records: enabling the communication of patient data between different healthcare professionals (GPs, specialists and other healthcare practitioners)
- Telehealth: providing physical and psychological treatments at a distance and enabling virtual healthcare teams
- Health and bio-informatics: including use of powerful computing and data management capabilities to handle large amounts of health or biological data
- Health business and data analytics and knowledge management: including the effective detection of health outbreaks, medical errors and improved health delivery performance reporting
- Healthcare Clinical and Business Information Systems: providing information management systems to assist clinicians and healthcare administrators and using communication systems and devices including mobile devices
- Personalised Medicine: providing the opportunity to ensure the right prescription for patients based on individual efficacy rather than population averages.
Why is eHealth important in Australia?
- Australia’s aging population is placing unprecedented pressure on our healthcare system. In 1970, there were 7.5 working age people to support people over the age of 65; today there are 5.0. By 2050 that figure will fall to 2.7. (Intergenerational Report 2010) · Ageing and health pressures are projected to result in an increase in total government spending from 22.4 per cent of GDP in 2015–16 to 27.1 per cent of GDP by 2049–50. (Intergenerational Report 2010)
- In the aged care sector it is estimated that by 2050 the number of people aged over 65 years will increase seven fold, and increase over twelve fold for those aged over 85 years (Intergenerational Report 2010)
- Up to 25% of a clinician’s time is estimated to be spent collecting data and information about their patients. (Australian Audit Commissions, For Your Information, Canberra, 1995)
- Up to 18% of medical errors occur as a result of inadequate availability of patient information whilst the inappropriate use of medicines costs $380 million per year in the public hospital system alone. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Health 2002)
What is the role of the ICT industry and its goods and services?
Information and new digital technologies, underpinned by high-speed, ubiquitous broadband is a crucial enabler of modern 21st century health and aged care systems. ICT provides opportunities for new, innovative service models across both the health and aged care sectors; smart decision support and health management tools; the capture, storage and sharing of information; automated and intelligent systems aimed at improving the efficiency of the system; and increased opportunities for appropriate citizen self-management and preventative healthcare models.
What is AIIA’s position?
AIIA believes that the Australian ICT industry can provide leadership in the innovative design, development and implementation of new health and aged care service models and strategies. These include solutions that help address special needs such as health and aging service provision and access in remote communities, for indigenous Australians, people with mental illnesses and those with chronic illnesses.
Through the application of ICT to access, share and use information, healthcare decision-making will be more informed and improved healthcare outcomes achieved. This includes more informed use of medications, the ability to reduce the incidence of medical errors and improved opportunities for preventative healthcare approaches. Combined, these will contribute to social and economic benefits for individuals and for communities and ultimately Australia.
Current priorities for AIIA include:
Rollout of a personally controlled electronic health record and supporting infrastructure, that can be securely shared with the full range of health care providers
Reliable, real-time telehealth facilities for diagnosis, consultation, treatment and clinical intervention purposes, with a focus on servicing rural and remote communities and ensuring overall improved access to health provider resources ·
Advanced health data analytics and informatics capabilities to enable more effective service delivery, reduction of errors and provision of support diagnosis, preventative health strategies, new health service models and ongoing advances in medical and health research
In-home remote diagnostics and predictive devices to enable in-home care to be a real option for more Australians · Advanced, smart technologies to support the development of expert healthcare systems
The trialing of new ICT service models such as mobile-enabled health models and use of cloud computing to improve efficiencies and increase capabilities across the health and aged care sectors
Improved communication across key stakeholder groups such as care provider networks · R&D: a focus on the development and application of new Australian medical research.
What is AIIA doing?
AIIA has a national eHealth Taskforce to drive improved collaboration between the ICT industry and health and aged care stakeholders. Amongst other things the Taskforce provides thought leadership in the development of new eHealth initiatives; represents the industry in key standards and policy forums; and uses a national scorecard to monitor the progress of eHealth readiness, the rollout of infrastructure and related eHealth services across Australian healthcare.