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Australia’s Health Workforce Gets Digital Boost

Australia’s health system faces many challenges, including an ageing population, increasing consumer expectations and continuing pressures on Australia’s health workforce. In the face of these challenges, digital health is transforming the way that many patients manage their health and experience healthcare and driving a step change in the delivery of health services.

The Capability Action Plan (CAP) – designed to support Australia’s health workforce to continue to develop the skills they need to deliver the best care for Australians in an increasingly digital world – sets out priority actions that are required across the workforce to respond to the needs of consumers, now and in the future.

The CAP was developed by the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH) alongside key stakeholders from across the health ecosystem. Under the CAP, the Agency and AIDH will work together over the next two years to support healthcare workers to deliver virtual and connected care to Australians by equipping them with the tools and capabilities that they need to operate as effectively as possible in this rapidly evolving environment.

The CEO of the Agency stated that across the health sector concerted action is required to build the capability of the workforce so that the benefits of digital health are realised for more patients in more settings. It was noted that workforce strategy development and planning require consultation, including with professional colleges, universities and educators and employers in the public and private sectors. Coordination of effort is also vital, and the AIDH, with its strong existing knowledge, relationships and independence in this area, is well-positioned to take on this role.

The CEO of AIDH stated that the Institute’s primary focus for the last four years has been advancing the digital capability of the health workforce.

She noted that the Institute, its Fellows and Members, already work with many health professions on workforce advancement, through accreditation and training, with programs that start with the basics of digital health to more advanced workforce-based programs.

The nursing and midwifery workforce has started to upskill by assessing capability in the public and private sectors and creating a starting point to build programs for education and training. Now is the time to take this to all health professions on a larger scale, she added.

The CAP is a two-year program of work that sets out the initiatives including working towards standard capability frameworks, guidelines, resources and tools identified through previous work, planning, and ongoing sector consultation to equip Australia’s health workforce for a connected, digitally enabled future.

In addition to the need for general digital health capability across the health workforce, it is also important to acknowledge there is and will continue to be a need for specialist roles such as health informaticians or data analysts. These requirements will evolve but, over time, it is expected that while certain roles may require specialist skills, digital will be an integral and embedded part of healthcare and not related to specific roles.

The Capability Action Plan presents the priority actions that are required in order to effectively build digital health capability across the health workforce to respond to the needs of consumers now and in the future. It has been built in partnership with key stakeholders from across the health ecosystem and reflects a shared position about actions that are both high-impact in driving capability uplift and achievable in the current health environment.

Australia has developed a plethora of cutting-edge health solutions. RMIT has developed a new screening test application that can produce accurate results using people’s voice recordings that could help advance the early detection of Parkinson’s disease and severe COVID-19.

Curtin University-led research has resulted in the development of a non-destructive, non-invasive technological tool, an eDNA toolkit, that could be beneficial to effectively monitor rare and critically endangered species.

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