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Health technology in Australia

Using digital information and modern communication technologies effectively is vital to the future of our health system. Technology plays a role in nearly every area of health, including health records.

Australia has a secure online health record system called My Health Record. Having a My Health Record means your important health information including allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details and scan reports can be accessed through one system. 

Technology also helps doctors and patients in regional, rural and remote areas. Broadband technology makes it possible for doctors to have video appointments with patients who can’t travel to hospitals for appointment with specialists.

Advances in medical science also help to improve health care in Australia. Gene technology and genomics can give us new testing, diagnosis and treatments for diseases such as cancer and help produce new vaccines and drugs.

As at May 2019:

  • more than 90% of people eligible for Medicare have chosen not to opt out of My Health Record
  • nearly 16,000 health care provider organisations are connected, including general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging and pathology practices, and residential aged care facilities
  • My Health Record contains 20 million clinical documents, 49 million prescription and dispense documents, and 220,000 documents provided by record-holders themselves.

What we’re doing about health technology

The Australian Digital Health Agency focuses on putting data and technology safely to work for patients, consumers and the healthcare professionals who look after them.

The Department of Health supports the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver My Health Record, including its policy and governance. Our framework for secondary use of My Health Record data will guide use of data for research and public health in the future.

Our Practice Incentives Program eHealth Incentive (ePIP) program encourages general practices to use the latest developments in digital health technology. This helps them improve their administration processes and patient care.

We also help people to see specialists and doctors without having to travel long distances. Our Medicare-funded Telehealth initiative makes this possible for:

  • people living in regional, rural and remote areas
  • residents of eligible aged care homes
  • patients of Aboriginal Medical Services

Our Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) works with state and territory governments to regulate gene technology. This protects Australians and our environment from risks related to genetically modified organisms. We will be implementing recommendations from the latest review of the National Gene Technology Scheme.

We also contribute to policies about genomic testing so that researchers can better understand how diseases work.

Our Health Technology Assessment team reviews new and emerging health technologies to check that they are:

  • safe
  • effective
  • cost effective