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Western Australia’s state-first program to accelerate digital health

A consortium of partners across the Western Australia (WA) medical research sector, which includes The University of Western Australia (UWA), will develop and deliver the State’s first digital health-specific program.

This program is designed to support education programs in digital health commercialisation.

According to a recent press release, the program will launch in Western Australia after being awarded a State Government X-TEND WA grant.

About the initiative

The pilot of the Digital Health Accelerator Program will build capacity in digital health entrepreneurs and provide a pathway to commercialisation.

This will be done by leveraging existing programs and locally-based expertise, and delivering programs currently operating outside WA.

The programs are unique as they combine industry-led expertise with proven frameworks for teaching innovation to provide tailored advice and models specifically for digital health entrepreneurs.

The Director of the WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub and University Professor shared that it would be important for improving health outcomes in Western Australia.

The project will enable a team of innovators to observe unmet clinical needs firsthand in WA and work up potential digital health solutions.

Benefits of the program

The benefit for the community will be improving healthcare for WA patients as well as developing critical skills to support the growing needs of the sector.

Digital health broadly includes the following:

  1. Mobile health
  2. Health information technology
  3. Wearable devices
  4. Telehealth/telemedicine
  5. Personalised medicine

The use of digital technologies in health-care aims to reduce inefficiencies, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalised for patients.

Digital health products have different commercialisation pathways to pharmaceuticals and medical devices, requiring novel and flexible commercial models.

The need for digital healthcare

The Sustainable Health Review, which was recently launched by the WA Department of Health, highlights digital healthcare as an area where investment was needed and a rich source of opportunity to improve the health system and patient outcomes.

UWA will work with several institutions that include Curtin University and Murdoch University, to name a few, on the project.

The X-TEND WA Program is a competitive grants program, which is funded under the New Industries Fund and run by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

It is designed to build capability and capacity within the WA innovation community.

A robotic protector

In other news, researchers at The University of Western Australia have developed a robotic fish that behaves like a bodyguard for native species.

It also safeguards them against the aggressive attitudes of invasive pests.

The lead researcher from the University’s Centre for Evolutionary Biology, and his research team, developed a new generation of bio-inspired robots capable of combatting invasive and pest species in Australian fresh waterways while also protecting the local fauna.

He explained that mosquitofish, which the humans originally introduced in many environments to control mosquito larvae, is now one of the biggest threats in freshwater ecosystems worldwide, including Australia.

Background

They have studied the appearance and swimming patterns of native predators of the invasive mosquitofish from North America.

These features are then integrated into a robotic predator fish that looks and moves like a real mosquitofish predator.

They developed a computer vision system to allow the robot to recognise in real time the invasive mosquitofish from the native tadpoles based on their movement, shape and behaviour.

This allows the robot to act differently towards the two species.

It protects the native tadpoles as a robotic bodyguard by performing real time attacks towards the invasive mosquitofish when they threaten the tadpoles.

Through the study, they discovered that bio-inspired robotic fish can simultaneously repel the invasive mosquitofish and attract native species.

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