This is a brief initial submission in response to the discussion paper released by the Agency in November 2016. We look forward to working with the Agency to involve consumers more and to progress and resolve the issues raised in this submission and by other consumers through the consultation process, such as through the focus groups we partnered with you to deliver in late January 2017.
We support the development of a digital health strategy for the entire health sector, one which is led by consumers but is executed by the entire health system. A comprehensive digital health strategy should provide a set of tools for consumers, clinicians and health service providers to work in partnership to have consumer –centred care. Central to this is empowering consumers to have more options for taking more responsibility for their own health.
The overall objective for the national digital health strategy should be framed simply and strategically, for example, “connected care, connected system”. A successful, forward-looking strategy needs to include several components including information, data and knowledge management; a prevention and patient self-management focus; measures and infrastructure to promote a better connected system and experience of care such as shared electronic records and secure messaging; and support for innovations in the delivery of clinical care and increasingly personalised medicine. In particular the strategy should prioritise:
- the roll out of a fully functioning comprehensive electronic health record with robust privacy controls .
- creating an environment for the development of and implementation of accredited on- line self-management tools and apps for smart phones and other smart devices across a range of conditions and needs;
- more widespread use of telehealth and telemedicine and related to this tools for remote monitoring for carers ; and
- training and education for consumers and health professional in how to use the tools and incentives put in place to encourage their adoption.
The strategy needs to address all these issues in a co-ordinated way. Whilst the electronic health record, My Health Record, is often seen as the most important part of the strategy, and for some consumers digital health is simply the record, there is no reason why the other parts of the strategy could not be pursued concurrently.