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Making the most of health technology could save billions

Health tech


New research from the Productivity Commission finds better integrating digital technology into healthcare could ease pressures on our healthcare system and save over $5 billion a year.


“Australia’s health system delivers some of the best outcomes of any in the world – but the cost of this care and wait times to access it are growing. Making better use of digital technology in healthcare could help address these problems while maintaining or even improving outcomes,” said Commissioner Catherine de Fontenay.


“We have made major strides integrating digital technology into healthcare but there are still a lot of potential savings and efficiency gains on the table that governments can help unlock.”


A lot of these potential savings can be realised by improving how we fund and utilise existing digital technology.


“The use of telehealth has exploded since 2020, but uptake of other digital-based services like remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics has lagged behind,” said Commissioner de Fontenay.


“Gaps in funding support for these services may be causing patients and practitioners to default to in-person care or forego care entirely, even if it costs the system more in the long run. Governments may need to consider alternative funding approaches to target high-value uses of these new technologies.”

Pharmacy Guild Membership


We also stand to gain from making digital patient information more comprehensive and easier for clinicians to access and use.


“Despite major investment in the My Health Record system, patient data is still fragmented and spread across different digital systems maintained by individual healthcare providers,” said Commissioner de Fontenay.


“We estimate that making better use of data in electronic medical records systems can save up to $5.4 billion per year by reducing the length of time patients spend in hospital, and $355 million in duplicated tests in the public hospital system alone.”


AI and automation also present a major productivity opportunity for healthcare – research shows up to 30% of the tasks currently undertaken by the healthcare workforce could be automated using digital technology and artificial intelligence.


“AI could free up a lot of time and resources for clinicians that can be used to provide care for patients. Governments need to ensure our regulatory guardrails build trust in AI technology so our healthcare system can maximise the potential benefits,” said Commissioner de Fontenay.


The Leveraging digital technology in healthcare research paper can be accessed from the Commission’s website at www.pc.gov.au.


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