Your leading voice in digital health news
Twitter X Logo

System interoperability and data exchange key to new National Digital Health Strategy

22 February 2024
By Kate McDonald
Image: iStockphoto

A strong focus on system interoperability, health information exchange and real-time access to data for consumers and clinicians is a feature of Australia’s new National Digital Health Strategy 2023-28, released today by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA).

The strategy, which is accompanied by a delivery roadmap of current and future initiatives, details four change enablers that are expected to lead to four health system outcomes that digital health can support.

The strategy also has a strong focus on the role of the jurisdictions, the digital health industry and technology vendors, along with consumers, healthcare providers and researchers, while the roadmap focuses on priorities that require coordinated, national effort over the five years to 2028. These are detailed under 12 priority areas that are expected to help implement the strategy.

The strategy details four change enablers:

  • Policy and regulatory settings that cultivate digital health adoption, use and innovation
  • Secure, fit-for-purpose and connected digital solutions
  • Digitally ready and enabled health and wellbeing workforce
  • Informed, confident consumers and carers with strong digital health literacy

The policy and regulatory settings section emphasises the need for the right policy, regulatory, funding and governance settings to help healthcare providers and consumers to confidently adopt and use digital health. Examples include policy settings that mandate the capture of information in My Health Record, and that make it an ethical requirement for healthcare providers to share an individual’s information safely and securely by default.

The secure, fit-for-purpose and connected digital solutions section highlights that solutions need to be easy to use and integrate seamlessly with clinical workflows, and emphasises that the expertise of industry is critical in achieving the aims of digital health policy. The strategy recognises that a lot of the foundations for a system of connected digital solutions are already in place.

The digitally ready and enabled health and wellbeing workforce enabler emphasises the importance of digital health capability building across all health professions and ties in with the National Digital Health Capability Action Plan. And the digital health literacy section emphasises that when applied to healthcare, digital technology can help consumers manage their own health and access the care they need.

The four enablers are expected to contribute to four desired outcomes:

  • 1. Digitally enabled: Health and wellbeing services are connected, safe, secure and sustainable
  • 2. Person-centred: Australians are empowered to look after their health and wellbeing, equipped with the right information and tools
  • 3. Inclusive: Australians have equitable access to health services when and where they need them
  • 4. Data-driven: Readily available data informs decision making at the individual, community and national levels, contributing to a sustainable health system.
Outcome one priority areas

This part of the strategy envisions moving the health system from siloed clinical document repositories to near real-time data exchange across primary, acute, aged and other care sectors. It promises to help deliver integration and utility across care settings to increase the amount of real-time information available to whole care teams in part through the Interoperability Plan.

Current priority areas include national secure messaging capability, the roll out of Provider Connect Australia to ensure availability of up-to-date information about healthcare providers, connecting software vendors and residential aged care facilities to My Health Record, and advancing the use of electronic referrals, transfers of care and discharge summaries as business as usual.

New initiatives include connecting multiple government services to newborn enrolment information by rolling out the Birth of a Child project nationally.

The roadmap also prioritises enhancing and maintaining modern and integrated digital solutions such as the My Health Record modernisation project and the development of accurate terminology, interoperability standards and conformance for sustained and widespread use.

Outcome two priority areas

This outcome envisions that Australians are empowered to look after their health and wellbeing, equipped with the right information and tools. It should be supported by strong consumer digital health literacy, but also by increasing the availability of health information.

Initiatives here include the development of a National Health Information Exchange Architecture and Roadmap to establish the national technical infrastructure requirements for near real-time sharing of health information across care settings. This will include connect hospital clinical information systems to the national HIE.

A priority is also to share information by default to support multidisciplinary care, including aged care plans and GP management plans, and accessing aged care assessment summaries in My Health Record.

Outcome three priority areas

This outcome envisions Australians as having equitable access to health services when and where they need them. Priority areas include improving and expanding virtual care, and integrate personal devices such as wearables, mobile apps, telehealth and medical monitoring devices.

It also encompasses enhancing digital systems and services that support team- based care for consumers registered with MyMedicare.

Outcome four priority areas

This outcome envisions that readily available data informs decision making at the individual, community and national levels, contributing to a sustainable health system.

Priority areas include collecting and sharing patient reported experience and outcomes data to inform decision making, and harmonising relevant policy and legislation across jurisdictions.

It also prioritises uplifting national and jurisdictional digital health infrastructure to flexibly accommodate AI, machine learning, deep learning technologies and genomics.

A priority is also deciding how to measure, monitor and report on changes in digital health maturity, adoption, meaningful use and benefits to inform national and local planning.

Other strategies

The new strategy acknowledges the previous one released in 2017, which this document says has provided solid foundations for Australia to grow and expand the use of digital systems.

It also shows how other strategies and plans tie in with the national one, including ADHA’s National Health Interoperability Plan, the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Digital Health Blueprint, the Australasian Institute of Digital Health’s National Digital Health Capability Action Plan and the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health 2023-2027.

“This strategy outlines what is needed to deliver digital health for the next 5 years for an innovative, future-focused, person-centred health system that can meet current challenges, as well as those beyond the horizon,” it says.

ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said the strategy and delivery roadmap were the result of a productive collaboration between federal, state and territory governments and shaped through consultations with consumers, carers, healthcare providers, research organisations and technology innovators.

“In an age of precision medicine, characterised by healthcare innovations like wearable technology and AI- driven genomic research, we are witnessing a paradigm shift towards personalised and preventative healthcare,” Ms Cattermole said.

“The National Digital Health Strategy is essential to support this shift while fostering a connected, secure, inclusive and ethical healthcare system, backed by robust legislation.”

The strategy and roadmap can be downloaded here.

Leave a Reply

Your leading voice in digital health news

Twitter X

Copyright © 2024 Pulse IT Communications Pty Ltd. No content published on this website can be reproduced by any person for any reason without the prior written permission of the publisher. If your organisation is featured in a Pulse+IT article you can purchase the permission to reproduce the article here.
Website Design by Get Leads AU.

Your leading voice in digital health news 

Keep your finger on the pulse with full access to all articles published on
Subscribe from only $39