Making the most of health technology could save Australia billions


Making the most of health technology could save Australia billions

Research released by the Australian Productivity Commission suggests greater integration of digital technologies into the country’s healthcare system could save more than $5 billion a year.

The Australian Productivity Commission has released research illustrating the positive economic impact of a range of technologies on the country’s healthcare system.

According to the research, simply making better use of the data held in electronic record systems could reduce the time patients spend in hospitals, while saving up to $5.4 billion every year.

The same data could also be used to reduce duplicated tests, with an associated saving of up to $355 million.

“Australia’s health system delivers some of the best outcomes of any in the world – but the cost of this care and wait times to access it are growing,” commissioner Catherine de Fontenay said in a statement. “Making better use of digital technology in healthcare could help address these problems while maintaining or even improving outcomes.”

“We have made major strides integrating digital technology into healthcare, but there are still a lot of potential savings and efficiency gains on the table that governments can help unlock.”

In terms of efficiency, up to 30 per cent of all tasks performed by healthcare workers could be automated by artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies, which would free up those workers, giving them more time to spend with patients. And those patients themselves would benefit from greater uptake of telehealth and remote monitoring.

Plus, the savings in travel costs made by relying more on telehealth could add up to $895 million each year.

“The use of telehealth has exploded since 2020, but uptake of other digital-based services like remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics has lagged behind,” de Fontenay said.

“Gaps in funding support for these services may be causing patients and practitioners to default to in-person care or forego care entirely, even if it costs the system more in the long run. Governments may need to consider alternative funding approaches to target high-value uses of these new technologies.”

You can read the full Leveraging digital technology in healthcare research paper here.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.


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