Australia’s digital health sector received a major boost in April this year when the Federal Government announced a $55 million cash injection to launch the new Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and its programs which will bring together a consortium of more than 60 health, medical technology and pharmaceutical companies, universities and research institutes operating across the health, aged care and disability sectors. Combined with the Government’s investment, the Digital Health CRC will have more than $111 million in cash funding and $118 million in-kind contributions to invest in a range of collaborative research and development programs that are set be rolled out from July 2018.
The research and innovation programs driven by the Digital Health CRC and its partners will focus on “optimising the use of evidence to improve personal healthcare, wellbeing and health and human services policy, planning and management and in doing so advance the Australian economy”. More specifically, the Centre’s research agenda will be developed to achieve three major outcomes:
- Improving the health, welfare, quality of life and wellbeing of citizens;
- Improving the efficiency and integrity of health services; and
- Increasing the value of every health dollar spent.
These research themes are foundational to the work that is already being invested in healthcare. However it is predicted that with the boost in Government funding, the consortium of government, industry and academic partners will have the support needed to propel Australia’s digital healthcare economy forwards, and towards a model that offers the potential to be continuously accessible, cost effective, technology-enabled and personalised.
The use of emerging digital technologies is not only changing the way in which healthcare businesses connect to and communicate with patients and consumers, but also has the potential to provide innovative ways to achieve better healthcare outcomes and possibly lower long-term healthcare costs. Coupled with changes in consumer attitudes and confidence in technology, it is little wonder that digital health is emerging as one of healthcare’s super sectors.