Introducing the Digital Health CRC

Digital Health 18 May 2018


Making healthcare fairer and more efficient—introducing the Digital Health CRC

We were thrilled by the announcement on 13 April that the Australian government will invest $55 million in the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, one of just four CRCs funded this year.

With the support of our eighty-member consortium we will invest more than $200 million over seven years to develop and test digital health solutions that will work for real patients in real hospitals and health services, while equipping Australians to better manage their own health and wellness.

But first, we have to create the CRC from the ground up. Our priorities for the next few weeks include:

  • establishing the Foundational board and registering the CRC so we can apply for an ABN, setup bank accounts and other governance steps
  • negotiating the participants agreement with all members, and a funding agreement with the Australian government
  • participation in the CRC Association conference in Sydney next week
  • briefings for our members across Australia
  • planning for a launch of the CRC in October.

We plan to communicate with you regularly on the progress of the CRC, and on related news in digital heath. Read on in this bulletin for stories on the Productivity Commission report on data availability and use; ADHA’s call for digital testbeds, the World Innovation Forum in Healthcare; and highlights from our Twitter stream.

For more frequent updates you can follow the Digital Health CRC on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn.


 news summary:

• A $200+ million opportunity to transform health delivery

• Productivity commission report into data availability and use

• Digital test beds to drive change in healthcare

• World Innovation Forum, Boston

• From our Twitter feed



A $200+ million opportunity to transform health delivery

Improving health outcomes; reducing waste in the health system; building businesses and jobs.

Australia’s health system has contributed to a transformation in the human condition. We’re living longer—a child born today will on average live to 83 and see in the 22nd Century. We’ve largely defeated infectious diseases, and our roads and workplaces are safer than they’ve ever been.

But… our longer lives bring with them a greater risk of chronic and degenerative diseases which are difficult and expensive to manage and treat.

Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise. The health system can’t keep up. Australia’s annual health expenditure has passed $170 billion which is more than 10 per cent of GDP.

And the system is splitting at the seams. It’s too complex: for patients and their families, for health professionals, for industry, and for government. For example, adverse drug reactions in Australia are responsible for over 400,000 GP visits a year, and for 30 per cent of elderly emergency admissions. The cost is over $1.2 billion. We believe that half that cost is avoidable.

The Digital Health CRC will:

  • Improve the health and wellness of hundreds of thousands of Australians
  • Improve the value of care and reduce adverse drug events     
  • Join up data in the health system creating an improved system benefiting all Australians
  • Save the Australian health system $1.8 billion
  • Create at least 1,000 new jobs in the digital health and related industry sectors
  • Create new companies and products for Australian and global markets
  • Create a new digital workforce and build the capacity of clinicians and consumers to become digital health ‘natives’.

The Digital Health CRC’s 80-member organisations represent every segment of the health system from patient to community, hospital to insurer, start-up to big government. Our researchers, from 16 universities, will work with our health partners to develop and test solutions that will work for real patients in real hospitals and other settings of care. Our business partners will work alongside them to ensure that the solutions are scalable and implementable. We’ll develop them in Australia, then take them to the world. To catalyse the latter, we are partnering with US-based company, HMS, that provides solutions and services to health insurers and their customers across 48 US states[EF1] [NB2] .

Other comments from the announcement


Meredith Makeham, Chief Medical Adviser, Australian Digital Health Agency

The Agency supports the Digital Health CRC as an excellent opportunity for government, industry and academia to collaborate on cutting edge research and development in this field.

The Australian Digital Health Agency congratulates all of the participating organisations who have worked together in the realisation of this important initiative.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the evidence building in digital health with other participants in the CRC, which will support improved services and health outcomes for Australian consumers and clinicians.


Associate Professor Marcel Dinger, CEO, Genome.One

Genome.One is thrilled to be a partner in the new Digital Health CRC, which will enable the exploration of how we can integrate key health information, including genomics and phenomics data, into clinical decision making and population health interventions across our health services.


Prof Penelope Schofield, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre/Swinburne University

New technology is transforming how we live. The Digital Health CRC is ensuring our health system is at the forefront of this change and we deliver on the potential for better patient outcomes through enhanced service delivery and access to information.


Read the full media release and backgrounder at


Productivity commission report into data availability and use

The Digital Health CRC welcomes the Federal Government’s response to the Productivity Commissions Report into Data Availability and Use.

The rights for consumers which were announced late last year—allowing individuals access to their data—are much needed, and the establishment of National Data Commissioner is a good step forward.

We hope that the health industry will be a fast follower and use these changes to expedite more open access to health data for consumers, health professionals and researchers alike.

‘Some 91% of Australians would be willing to share their
de-identified medical data if it went towards research purposes’
Research Australia, 2016

The Accredited Data Authorities are also a great idea. These bodies will support the linkage of datasets and decide whether a dataset is made available for public release or limited sharing with trusted users. If applied in health, it could speed up and enhance research. 

Some of the complexities in sharing Australia’s health data, from the point of view of consumers, and of health researchers have been examined in the Flying Blind reports – a collaboration between Research Australia and the Capital Markets CRC. More at: and

You can read the Federal Government’s full response at:

Digital test beds to drive change in healthcare

The Australian Digital Health Agency is calling for proposals for innovative test beds that can be rigorously reviewed and then scaled nationally.

These pioneering initiatives will be co-produced by consumers, governments, healthcare providers, and entrepreneurs and will test evidence-based digital empowerment of key health priorities.

Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said digitally enabled models of care are an important priority in Australia's National Digital Health Strategy – Safe, Seamless, and Secure and the test beds demonstrate the Agency’s commitment to work collaboratively with stakeholders.

“Our global peers are increasingly recognising that Australia is in a unique position to test and trial digital health solutions that can be implemented in a diverse and sometimes fragmented system, and have the ability to scale nationally.

Projects can run for up to four years depending on the test bed however, baseline measures will be required by October 2018, and interim results at 12-18 months. Up to $600,000 is available per test bed. The tender closes at 2pm on Wednesday 6 June 2018. More at

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey


An ultrasound in a coffee cup?

Demonstration of the ultrasound developed by Jonathan Rothberg being used by an audience member

The impact of machine learning on decision making was one of the key topics at the recent World Innovation Forum in Healthcare hosted by Partners Healthcare in Boston. Professor Tim Shaw used the Forum as an opportunity to introduce the CRC to his US colleagues. Tim will lead the Health System research in the CRC and is based at the University of Sydney.

Highlights included the demonstration of a portable self-guided ultrasound housed in a case the size of coffee cup. The device can be used by a novice to conduct diagnostic cardiac ultrasound.  Atul Gawande, the influential surgeon, journalist and public health researcher, emphasised that much more attention needs to be placed on how technologies are developed so they can be implemented into real-world clinical situations – so called ‘Pragmatic Innovation’.

Forum participants acknowledged that machine learning algorithms can outperform humans in a growing number of areas such as imaging, pathology and genomics. However, industry and clinical leaders dispelled fears that AI would replace healthcare professionals, rather, a consensus was reached that the term Augmented Intelligence may better reflect the future partnership between clinicians and technology.

Tim also visited the Brigham and Women’s and MGH new Centre for Clinical Data Science.

Forum presentations are available at


Meet the CEO-Designate, David Jonas

David Jonas was the founding CEO of the Capital Market CRC's healthcare solutions subsidiary, Lorica Health for six years and remains on its Board. He formerly served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Capital Markets CRC and the CEO of Capital Markets Technologies.

David has served since early 2013 as a non-executive director of Infoxchange, a major provider of technology to the not-for-profit sector and social welfare agencies of governments. He founded and led Australia's largest privately-held electronic commerce consulting firm, Electronic Trading Concepts (ETC), which was acquired by Securenet (now part of Verizon) in 2000. David's background includes seven years as CTO of a large multinational group of companies.

David recently wrote a piece for HealthCare IT about the change of thinking required for digital health.

“The digital tsunami has changed many aspects of the way we live and work but has yet to have a defining impact on our health and health care. Occasionally you catch a glimpse of digital health innovation but soon enough you’re back in a specialist’s waiting room perusing a months-old magazine and wondering how long it will be before consumers get a meaningful say in one of the most important and fundamental aspects of their life: their health.

“Sure, in Australia, where our health system is valued and trusted, we need to proceed with care, but the potential for real, substantive change that will make health care more effective and affordable is huge and you have to wonder why, when many of the enabling technologies are so successfully deployed elsewhere, that change has been so long in coming.”

Read the full article at:


Other stories from our Twitter feed

@digihealthcrc: National Data Commissioner, Accredited Data Authorities and rights for consumers are all really positive steps forward for the sharing of #data. Hopefully the #health industry will be a fast follower

@digihealthcrc: Sharing data between local hospitals in #Melbourne will save the Victorian government an estimated $34.1 million every year #digitalhealth #data #futurehealth

@ EFoley62: Aged Care will be on the agenda for the new Digital Health CRC

@Swinburne: Director of Swinburne's Data Science Research Institute, Professor Timos Sellis, will co-lead a research program on data enabled health innovations under a new Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre:

@GenomeOneHealth@MarcelDinger says new @digihealthcrc will help drive forward Genome.One's vision of developing a platform to enable interpretation of the #genome at patients' point-of care, to guide clinical decision making.

@timshaw132: Looking forward to being Health Systems Lead on new $112M Digital Health CRC announced by Federal Minister today

@eHealthNSW: Success of $200m @digihealthcrc bid is “a real boost to the #digitalhealth agenda in Australia and will help place us as an international leader in a field that's transforming the #patient experience" - @eHealthNSW CE Dr Zoran Bolevich

@ZedSeselja: $55m in Commonwealth funding announced this morning for @digihealthcrc for innovative research to improve healthcare for Australians

@digihealthcrc: Government backs @digihealthcrc - a $200+ million opportunity to transform health delivery: improving health outcomes; reducing waste in the health system; building businesses and jobs #health #healthcare #collaboration #innovation #digitalfutures


Follow us at @digihealthcrc

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