In 2016, the government of Australia launched the National Digital Health Strategy – an initiative designed to leverage digital innovation to produce products, services, and programs to help secure safe, sustainable and high-quality health care for Australians.
The position outlined by the strategy is that “Digital information is the bedrock of high-quality healthcare”. In accordance, there is now an acknowledgment that the private sector will be a key partner for finding solutions to Australia’s health challenges.
While investment from states and territories is hugely important, the private sector has infrastructure, products, and services that can be used to improve health care.
By aligning both public and private resources, there is an opportunity to create a cohesive, seamless and sustainable health care system that is responsive and self-improving.
The great barrier to innovation
It has always been the case that innovation drives progress. Consider radiology; today’s scanning and reporting have seen vast improvements, while teleradiology services, such as our own, are now helping institutions improve patient outcomes, staff wellbeing, and operations.
However, there remain challenges to innovation and adoption of technologies, such as restrictions related to the sharing of imaging data from one site to another and resistance hesitation from hospitals, whose leadership may not fully appreciate the benefits that teleradiology services can provide to them and their patients.
Another significant roadblock is related to the integration of technologies. The lack of standardization across sites leads to inconsistent outcomes and means that data-sharing is less than ideal. Thankfully, the National Digital Health Strategy has identified this problem and is driving solutions so that, hopefully, in the near future the Australian healthcare system will have access to seamless, safe and secure sharing of patient data. In teleradiology, a positive impact in this area would be significant. Currently, only site-level connections (to RIS and PACS) are possible.
If there was a national standards-based point of integration, we could have affordable teleradiology services that all hospitals could tap into on-demand.
Adoption, integration, and the way forward
As it stands, the most successful examples of adoption in the sphere of teleradiology can be found in rural and remote areas, where the need is more urgent. For these hospitals, a lack of resources (facilities and staff) are mitigated by access to digital reporting day and night.
With a connection to teleradiology services, even a small hospital can gain immediate access to rapid diagnostic and reporting capabilities.
The onus is now on the industry to recognize that even resource - rich, urban hospitals can benefit from increased radiological capabilities – essential when you consider the shortage of radiologists, the high-cost of recruiting and the workload that radiology departments have to cope with.
If a bridge can be built between public healthcare institutions and the private sector, the combined skills and resources will surely achieve significant benefits for hospitals, staff and patient outcomes – not just in radiology but in all areas of health care.
Achieve this, and Australia’s health care services will be one step closer to a modern, connected and successful National Digital Health Strategy.
This article is a summary of our whitepaper about how working with industry can advance the National Digital Health Strategy.
Whitepaper | Working with industry:
a key factor in embracing innovation and enabling
advancement of our National Digital Health Strategy.
In this whitepaper we discuss:
- Opportunities created by the National Digital Health Strategy
- The challenges that hospitals face in the implementation of the Digital Strategy, in particular regards to radiology
- How the government can partner with hospitals and private industry providers to foster an agile and self-improving health system that is sustainable.