Good morning, and a very warm welcome to our important Summit.

It is wonderful to see so many people here who are committed to a digital health future for Australia.

It is critical that today’s Summit delivers practical tools to help drive the uptake of digital health in this country – including the workforce needed to underpin it.

Please humour me…and picture for a moment that I am Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who is making international headlines in her calls for action on climate change.

I acknowledge that I’m a little older than her, and – I confess – I drove here today, rather than arriving by yacht (in my defence, sailing here proved to be a little difficult from Canberra).

But like Greta Thunberg, I bring a warning…much like climate change, the move to a digital health future needs urgent action and we cannot be complacent.

The Digital Health CRC has been funded to create a step change in the way Australia capitalises on digital technologies, and benefits from them. We are supporting this Summit because we have a significant role to play in driving the pace of change.

Paraphrasing Greta’s words:

  • You should not be here. You should be in your health services reducing the demand for hospital care, delivering efficient and effective preventive care with digital supports, and optimising scarce resources in the way you deliver that care – or you should be in your universities telling the next generation of health professionals about the real progress being made to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through a digital future.

The technology and infrastructure needed to deliver quality, safe and efficient services already exists in retail, vehicle manufacturing, transport and hospitality, space travel, and even – dare I say it – in banking! Yet here we are still trying to make truly meaningful strides to a digital future in healthcare.

While digital health will not – in isolation – be the panacea for our health system, the slow rate of progress is holding us back.

It is holding us back from delivering a more efficient and effective health system that focuses more on individual wellbeing and preventive health – on keeping people healthier for longer – while also supporting improvements in the patient journey through our hospitals and aged care facilities.

Our greatest challenge – and opportunity – today is not to come up with more empty words.

We need to show future generations in a very practical way how we will support them, prepare them and empower them – by transforming the quality, safety, efficiency and sustainability of healthcare in a meaningful timeframe, using digital technologies.

To do this, we need to set strict timeframes for ourselves – as well as for our governments, policy-makers and health services.

We are immensely excited about today’s Summit and the draft Roadmap. We commit ourselves to driving some of the actions you come up with in the sessions that follow.

We will do this through our unique network of industry, university, government and technology participants, many of whom are represented here today. Collectively, they are already proving to be a true ‘power for good’ in delivering cutting-edge digital health research and outcomes.

But we have only just started.

As this map [shown during the presentation] of our participants and research projects demonstrates, we are rapidly connecting people and organisations across Australia and overseas, in a collaboration that will deliver a deep impact – not only from a research and technology perspective but also by creating a highly capable digital health workforce for the future.

Change starts with bringing people together, not working in isolation – and bringing people together is what CRCs like ours do best.

We look forward to working with you to make the road to a digital health future a shorter one – and a hugely beneficial step change – for our health system, health professionals, and health consumers, both here and globally.

Thank you.

National Digital Health Workforce and Education Summit
Co-convened by the Australian Digital Health Agency and Digital Health CRC
20 November 2019, Sydney