On behalf of the Australian Digital Health Agency Board, I would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of Agency staff during what has been an unprecedented year for healthcare, both in Australia and worldwide. The dedication and resilience of staff and members of the Board has been fantastic, particularly during the past few months of the pandemic, when the use of digital health been more important than ever. Australia’s health system has been challenged and continues to shine.
COVID-19 has highlighted the essential role of technology and the need for the digital health sector to deliver care in new ways to connect patients and clinicians.
Under the Australian Government’s National Health Plan for COVID-19, electronic prescriptions are an alternative to paper prescriptions and will allow patients to receive vital healthcare services while maintaining physical distancing and, where necessary, isolation to lessen the risk of infection being spread in general practice waiting rooms and at community pharmacies.
This initiative is designed to support telehealth, which has been widely adopted, and the solution being progressively rolled out across Australia will allow a doctor to generate an electronic prescription and send it via an SMS or email that patients can then share with their pharmacy.
This will complement My Health Record, which is already making critical health information available when and where it is most needed.
Research shows that there has been a positive and significant shift in perceptions of use of technology in healthcare. Australians are more open than ever to using technology and are understandably far more aware of telehealth and remote healthcare since March. We know that healthcare practitioners want more training in digital health services and the Agency will continue working with peak associations to develop professional development programs to meet this very important need. Our aim is that every health worker feels confident using technology to improve patient experiences of care and clinical outcomes.
One of the priorities in Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy is to support a thriving industry delivering world-class innovation, and the Agency’s Innovation Challenge in May was a timely way to support the national COVID-19 effort and help futureproof Australia’s healthcare system so we can all get the most from our national digital health infrastructure.
Thank you again to all our staff and stakeholders, including the Department of Health and all the state health departments, who continue to support us and the ever-developing national conversation on digital health. The significant events of this year have accelerated our shared interest in digital health. We look forward to working with you all to continue this important transformation to help create a better-connected healthcare system for all Australians.