Budget 2023: Big boost for Australian digital health

Budget 2023: Big boost for Australian digital health

The Australian government is giving a huge boost to digital health with new funding of A$951.2 million ($643 million) over four years.

The 2023-2024 budget for digital health includes:

  • A$325.7 million ($220 million) to make the Australian Digital Health Agency an ongoing entity that delivers important digital health infrastructure;

  • A$429 million ($290 million) to modernise My Health Record; and

  • A$126.8 million ($86 million) to renew the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health which works to promote interoperability across the health system.

Meanwhile, the federal government is also investing A$111.8 million ($76 million) over four years to strengthen electronic prescribing and enhance targeted digital medicines.

WHY IT MATTERS

In this year’s budget, the Australian government is making Medicare “stronger” with historic funding of A$6.1 billion ($4 billion). This is to deliver critical funding for the health system’s urgent needs today and to lay down the foundation for significant reforms in the future. Digital health, which is receiving nearly a billion Australian dollars in investment over four years, is seen as vital in building a “more efficient, connected, and collaborative healthcare system.”

THE LARGER CONTEXT

A big portion of the digital health budget is going to the modernisation of My Health Record, which was one of the major recommendations recently offered by the Strengthening Medicare Task Force. 

“My Health Record is now old technology. It still uses the old PDF format… It was cutting-edge then, but it’s clunky now,” Health Minister Mark Butler said in a press conference ahead of the 2023-2024 budget announcement. He shared that only one in 10 specialists uses the platform while one in five diagnostic reports in radiology is uploaded with the other four “[disappearing] into the digital ether.”

Now, Minister Butler wishes to make the uploading of medical test reports a rule rather than an exception.

Based on the budget statement, the latest investment in My Health Record will ensure that the technology is “easier to use, is compatible with the information and billing systems that health practitioners are already using, and connects the health system so that patients can access and securely share their health data.”

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