Future Plans Announced for Digital Health CRC

A $200+ million opportunity to transform health delivery: improving health outcomes; reducing waste in the health system; building businesses and jobs.

The new Digital Health CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) will invest over $200 million to develop and test digital health solutions that work for real patients in real hospitals and health services, while equipping Australians to better manage their own health and wellness.

Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Liberal Senator for the ACT, Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation announced today that the Government will invest $55 million through its CRC program to further develop Australia’s growing Digital Health technology and services industry.  The Centre was one of only four CRC’s funded in this round.

The Digital Health CRC will have at least $111 million in cash funding, and $118 million in-kind funding to invest over its seven-year life.  The Centre will operate through collaborative R&D programs involving 40 commercial and government organisations operating across the health, aged care and disability sectors, 24 established and start-up technology, advisory and investment companies, and 16 Australian universities.  The Centre has the support of both the Australian Digital Health Agency and the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals industry growth centre (MTP Connect).

Senator Seselja said the Digital Health CRC will improve the health and healthcare of all Australians.

“The CRC brings together industry and research partners across Australia’s health and wellness landscape in a collaborative approach to advancing health and medical technologies and pharmaceutical industries.”

“CRCs have a proven track record in delivering tangible benefits for industry. By linking industry expertise with our world-class research capability, CRCs generate new knowledge, solve problems and offer opportunities to commercialise new ideas,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.

The Digital Health market is expected to grow internationally at over 25.9% p.a. to reach $379 billion by 2024 (Hendersen et al -2016).  “Timing is everything” says CEO-designate, David Jonas. “Australia has pioneered many health advances. If we act now, the Australian health industry can be pioneers in digital health transformation and leaders in digital health technology.  If we wait a few years, the term ‘Digital Health’ will be synonymous with health, and Australian industry will have missed the boat.  Recognising the international nature of health and technology, we are particularly pleased to have US-based HMS Inc as a major industry partner.”

“Our CRC’s founding premise is that digital health solutions have the potential to improve people’s health and wellbeing, reduce waste in the health system and build businesses and jobs in the rapidly growing digital health sector” says the consortium’s chair, Professor Christine Bennett AO.  “One of our exemplar project relates to improving medication safety. Adverse drug reactions result in 400,000 GP visits a year and are responsible for 30% of emergency hospital admissions in the elderly.  This costs the system $1.2 billion per annum, of which 50% is avoidable, according to our program lead, Professor Libby Roughead.”

Jonas explains that the CRC’s R&D program is industry driven and academically powered. “Industry is looking for digital solutions to be developed and validated through provision of access to ‘test-beds’ and for pathways to market. We will meet these objectives by working with our university and industry partners and by supporting and expanding the already nascent eco-system. We are confident that through our existing and planned international partnerships we will take Australian innovation into a global marketplace.”

Professor Bennett notes that the Digital Health CRC will spawn new companies and products, foster a new digital health workforce and forge new national and international partnerships. “We forecast that at least 1,000 new jobs will be created by this CRC, and that the Government and our partners investments will be returned 5 times over”, says Bennett, “and most importantly we will have actively contributed to improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians”.

Australia’s CRC program has had great success over the years generating billions of dollars in export earnings. These include the creation and/or development and commercialisation of the Cochlear hearing implants, key parts of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aeroplane wings, vision and oral health products, and the SMARTS financial surveillance software used across the world to detect illegal trading behaviours.


Meredith Makeham, Chief Medical Adviser, Australian Digital Health Agency

Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Medical Adviser Meredith Makeham said that 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.

Bronwyn Evans, Chair, MTPConnect

Closing the gap between fostering high level research capability and industrial innovation priorities is essential to the future of our sector. MTPConnect is excited to support a centre that is set to be an important driver in the development of digital healthcare. The proposed CRC will address the significant global trend of spiraling costs of healthcare by developing programs that look to aggregate, connect, and analyse data from multiple sources, contributing to the economics and performance of the healthcare spectrum, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes and improved access to healthcare

Christine Bennett, Chair, Digital Health CRC

One in four Australians admitted to a hospital will have an adverse event, 20,000 people will die each year from medical error and estimated $45B health spend is wasted every year through inappropriate care and system inefficiency.

Over the seven-year term of this CRC $1.9 Trillion will be expended on health, aged care and disability services. Projected growth rates will see healthcare’s share of GDP rising from 10% to over 15%. And yet health services and clinicians are often flying blind in terms of understanding the impact and outcomes of their care, and consumers have little access to tools to support their health and wellness.

Our CRC has the support of and will align with the work of both the Australian Digital Health Agency and MTP Connect, the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals growth centre.

David Jonas, CEO, Digital Health CRC

A key focus will be on developing digital health technology businesses.  This market is growing internationally at over 26% annually reaching $400bn p.a. by 2024.  We will work with partners and external organisations that specialise in growing and supporting start-ups and securing investment capital.

Our education and training program will improve digital health literacy in the population, develop a digitally competent health workforce, and through embedding PhDs and postdocs in industry produce the next generation of health technologists.

Download Press Release as PDF 

Download Digital Health CRC background information as PDF

Photos of the press conference here

For more information contact Elizabeth Foley, Digital Health CRC Bid Manager, on efoley@digitalhealthcrc.com or 0402 893 829, or Niall Byrne, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, 0417 131 977. Or check our website  http://www.digitalhealthcrc.com



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