Digital Health CRC granted extension to complete research pipeline

Wednesday, 03 April, 2024

Digital Health CRC granted extension to complete research pipeline

The Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) has received an 18-month unfunded extension to embed its research, education, translation and commercialisation programs.

The initial seven-year term of the DHCRC’s Commonwealth funding agreement was due to end on 30 June 2025. The extension by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) allows DHCRC to continue through to 31 December 2026.

“The DHCRC was established in July 2018 to ensure Australia would realise the full potential of digital health and effective use of data to support connected care and evidence-based health care,” DHCRC CEO Annette Schmiede said.

“At the time, the health sector was facing significant challenges: a rapidly aging population, increasing cost of medical interventions, changing expectations from consumers and increasing incidence of chronic diseases.”

Innovation amid changes, challenges

“When the DHCRC was established, no one foresaw the abrupt changes that would be forced onto the healthcare sector, and the economy more broadly, by a global pandemic. COVID-19 presented challenges, but also significant opportunities for the uptake of digital technologies to deliver virtual care. Research was delayed as all resources were deployed to manage the pandemic. But equally, it demonstrated in real time the extraordinary benefits digital health can deliver in improving the health outcomes of all Australians.”

The DHCRC works with 64 Participant organisations across government, academia and industry who are at the forefront of digital health technology innovation. It currently has 44 research and development projects in delivery, with a further 21 completed. These research projects are often complex, with multiple parties and ambitious objectives.

“Individually, these are often groundbreaking initiatives that span the broad spectrum of digital health across critical areas of focus including sustainability and equity, data and analytics, and virtual care. When viewed holistically, these projects provide insight into the trends and issues affecting the health sector more broadly,” Schmiede said.

Supporting digital health leaders

An equally important challenge the DHCRC is addressing is the need to upskill the current and future health workforce, said the centre in a statement. This is critical to ensure that technological innovation is adopted in practice and fully used.

“The planned end date of our Commonwealth Agreement meant that the timeline of most recent projects has been limited in duration. This unfunded extension will allow us to complete our research pipeline, embed these digital health initiatives in practice, support the growth of Australia’s digital health technology sector and continue to support tomorrow’s digital health leaders,” Schmiede said.

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