Digital healthWhat is digital health?

Digital health is the delivery of health services using digital technologies and is crucial to health service modernisation. It has the potential to reshape existing health services, making them safer, more efficient, flexible, personalised and sustainable, and provide consumers with new tools to support self-management, and new ways of collaboratively engaging with health services.

With this singular potential to enhance and accelerate the quality, safety and effectiveness of health services, digital health is now attracting multi-billion dollar investments from the public and private sectors, nationally and internationally. We have an Australian Digital Health Agency, and each state has its own e-health programs focussing on the public hospital system. Internationally, digital health is considered crucial to health service modernisation.

Digital health however is hard. It is much more than simply building ‘apps’, but rather covers everything from simple consumer products through to complex whole of nation systems. There is clear evidence that, despite huge investments by government and service providers, when implemented, many real-world e-health systems fail to deliver the improvements expected, create additional workloads, disrupt workflows, and introduce new classes of error.

E-health services are also notoriously complex, with significant unintended consequences if poorly conceived, designed, implemented or managed. Thus, while much focus remains on the development of technology, attention must also be paid to the very real implementation challenges faced by digital health.

To be effective, digitally enabled health services and e-health policy must be founded upon world-class research evidence to guide investment and service-delivery decisions.

The CRE community of researchers and front-line service providers will tackle the fundamental challenges that impede the creation of truly safe, efficient and effective e-health services for both clinicians and consumers.