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Modernising Australia’s Digital Health Infrastructure

The Australian Digital Health Agency announced that a multinational consulting firm has been awarded the contract to deliver the first phase of the modernisation of the national digital health infrastructure.

The contract is for the Health Information Gateway, a pivotal piece of national digital health enabling technology that provides a secure and scalable platform for exchanging and accessing health information, including priority areas such as vaccinations and aged care data. The contract was awarded following a competitive tender process to secure a supplier to support the Agency’s consumer-centric approach.

The Health Information Gateway is key to the Agency’s future directions for national digital health infrastructure. The new Gateway unlocks the Agency’s ability to deploy and manage additional health information repositories and health data exchanges in support of national priorities for healthcare delivery and digitising government services, now and into the future.

The new Gateway will provide improved support for the integration of health information from multiple sources into clinical information systems. All clinicians including general and specialist practitioners, hospital physicians, nurses and allied health professionals will benefit from access to more comprehensive patient information when and where it is needed for the most effective care of patients.

Healthcare consumers will also benefit from access to additional and more detailed health information through their My Health Record, further empowering patients in their own healthcare journey.

The new Gateway is based on modern web services and standards for health information exchange and clinical terminologies, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). As a result, the new Gateway will be able to interoperate with other modern health information exchange technologies from the medical software industry and those already implemented by large healthcare providers such as State and Territory health departments.

The new Gateway will support a range of government authentication mechanisms so that information can be more easily shared across the health ecosystem while maintaining the right security, and controls. This is the first step towards a simplified, future-ready national digital health infrastructure.

The CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency stated that a connected healthcare system is at the heart of the National Digital Health Strategy and while our national digital health infrastructure has already delivered significant benefits for Australians, it is now time to modernise and unlock the potential that new technologies offer.

The new Health Information Gateway will reduce costs and technical and operational complexity often faced by healthcare providers by setting in place a single, consolidated gateway with reusable interfaces available to developers, she said. And it requires fewer connections to be developed between healthcare providers and My Health Record and other digital health products and services. This goes a long way to making the sharing of patient information between healthcare providers easier, she added.

This is why the modernisation of the national digital infrastructure is the Agency’s most important strategic focus for 2021. A partner at the consulting firm stated that the company is a specialist provider of technology integration services to both the public and private sectors. He noted that this important gateway services contract will add to Australia’s national digital infrastructure and the firm is looking forward to making an important contribution to helping the ADHA to deliver contemporary digital services that enhance Australians’ access to health products and services.

While Australia’s health system is highly respected internationally for its effectiveness and efficiency, to meet future challenges, there is an increasing need for healthcare reform that includes large-scale adoption of digital health technologies and the adoption of modern standards for health information exchange. These technologies will help to provide Australians with a healthcare system that is accessible, affordable, and equitable.

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