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Blog: ADHA gets a big tick for transparency with digital health roadmaps

26 February 2024
By Kate McDonald
Image courtesy Australian Digital Health Agency.

The new National Digital Health Strategy is out – a little later than expected, it must be said – and one thing is certain: the repeat use within its pages of My Health Record as an example of digital health progress is dead-set guaranteed to send the system’s perpetually enraged detractors spiralling over the precipice.

For those of us still standing on firm ground, the strategy makes for a pretty good read. Someone from ADHA has mercifully got the red pen out and de-jargoned much of it, and it is reasonably free of grandiose claims and visionary statements. Granted, it talks about change enablers, breaking down siloes and lots of hoo-ha about ecosystems, but there is a good bit of sense in the document and it’s well worth a thorough read.

What we liked even more though was the accompanying delivery roadmap, which put a lot of meat on the bones of the strategy. The roadmap lays out the priority areas and initiatives that will drive the strategy’s goals, some of which are already underway and most of which build on the eHealth foundations from the last decade or two, including those from the last digital health strategy in 2017.

The roadmap also draws in some of the other strategies and plans, most notably ADHA’s excellent National Healthcare Interoperability Plan, the National Digital Health Capability Action Plan developed in association with the Australasian Institute of Digital Health, and the Department of Health and Ageing’s own digital health blueprint and action plan, which is remarkable in its openness in fleshing out the investments made now and what may be required in future.

We also like the fact that it looks like ADHA plans to keep the status of each initiative in the roadmap updated over time. Just like the quarterly updates promised for the interoperability plan – which this week revealed good progress, particularly for the increasingly useful my health app but also on what will be groundbreaking projects like the national health information exchange (HIE) – keeping track of progress is essential, as is measuring each initiative’s worth, both of which the roadmap promises.

We welcome the level of transparency that ADHA, DoHAC and one or two of the jurisdictions are now committed to. Considering how difficult it was in the past to get any information out of ADHA’s predecessor and the closed shop that some state health departments continue to run , this comes as a breath of fresh air. Let us know what you reckon about the new strategy and the roadmap in the comments below, or drop us a line here. We’ll collect some opinions over the next couple of weeks and would welcome your views.

We think, though, that there may be one last piece of the puzzle to put together, and that’s a refinement of the aged care data and digital strategy. There’s far too much fluff in the draft for our liking and we think it needs more on the action side and less on the vision.

That brings us to our poll question for the week:

Do you agree with the aims of the National Digital Health Strategy?

Vote here, and leave your comments below.

Last week, we asked: Should all state and territory health departments set up an AI taskforce? Readers voted yes overwhelmingly – 80 per cent were in favour to 20 per cent against.

We also asked if you said yes, why? If not, should it be left up to the federal government? Here’s what you said.

7 comments on “Blog: ADHA gets a big tick for transparency with digital health roadmaps”

  1. Wile the focus on information sharing is to be supported, there needs to be an acknowledgement that the practice of “digital health”, “virtual care”, “telehealth” needs to be properly supported, planned for, trained for and funded. A national funded Telehealth and Virtual Care Community or Collaborative could provide this support

    • Name - Alan Taylor
  2. No problems with the strategy as such, but I still don’t really understand why the Federal Government invests so much time into these documents, when health and hospitals services are delivered by state and territory governments, and the private sector.

    • The priority areas accurately reflect where the immediate work needs to happen while keeping a view on the very dynamic healthcare and regulatory environment

      • This is one of the better strategies that I have seen from the Commonwealth. Normally they would develop something behind closed doors with highly paid consultants who develop a bevy of PowerPoint slides. This time they have come out early with a plan and they talk about an agile approach. If we see the various projects as sprints there is a good chance they will have a high degree of success. Coupling this with an emerging standard that has a lot of energy internationally adds to its potential. The greatest challenge is moving people in the system who are all too comfortable with the status quo. The system is broken no matter what spin you put on it and unless we unify behind this change, it does not augur well for the next 30 years, and we will continue to spend more than any of us can afford on a disconnected system that only the informed can use.

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