Australia could become a global centre for healthcare technologies, with the sector uniquely placed to boost health and economic outcomes for Australia, but home grown companies are choosing to head overseas thanks to red tape and challenges in attracting investment.
22 - 23 July, 2020 | Melbourne, Victoria

Positioning Australia as a global digital health hub

02/20/2019

Australia could become a global centre for healthcare technologies, with the sector uniquely placed to boost health and economic outcomes for Australia, but home grown companies are choosing to head overseas thanks to red tape and challenges in attracting investment. 

In its report Digital Health: Creating a New Growth Industry for Australia released in December, start up accelerator ANDHealth says more government and investor support is needed to position Australia as an Asia Pacific powerhouse.

“Across many sectors, including healthcare, existing regulation often fails to keep pace with new technologies, leading to regulatory grey areas and limiting the rate at which the digital health sector can deliver transformative solutions,” the report found.

“Feedback from Australian digital health entrepreneurs suggests it is easier to access customers and sell their products and services overseas than in Australia, due to perceived regulatory, reimbursement and market implementation barriers. 

As the value of the global market digital health market skyrockets to $280 billion, ANDHealth Managing Director and CEO, Brownywn Le Grice said now is the time for Australia to build on momentum and help shift care from clinic to home.

“We’ve definitely seen a significant hype cycle with respect to digital health globally, so in 2019 there is a clear maturation of the way in which patients, clinicians, regulators and payers view digital health,” Ms Le Grice said.

“Like all tech sectors, there is plenty of jargon and excitement in the space, but we’re now seeing genuine progress with respect to evidence-based, regulated digital health products being deployed and having a positive impact on patients.

“In addition, there is clear appetite at the patient level for using digital technologies to improve health.”

Australia, Le Grice said, has a long history of global leadership in the development of health technologies to build on.

“Its deep capabilities in health and medical research are augmented by emerging capabilities in technology and a growing number of executives with demonstrable track records in international commercialisation. It is the perfect location to create a world class centre of excellence in the commercialisation of evidence-based digital health technologies.” 

According to Le Grice, recent funding across national and state initiatives, including the Digital Health CRC, will create a pipeline of innovative technologies and spin-out companies. Specialised programs such as those provided by ANDHealth and its members will also contribute knowledge, skills and expertise to commercialisation 

“This creates a unique opportunity to build a digital health ecosystem focused on the commercialisation and globalisation of digital health technologies,” she said.

“This has additional benefits of positioning Australia as a hub for international digital health companies looking to pilot and partner in the Asia Pac region.”

To achieve this, the ANDHealth report called for Australia to implement changes to healthcare regulation, reimbursement and procurement mechanisms. It also recommended that challenges to accessing capital be addressed to help companies grow here without having to move internationally.

“Australia is considered a global leader in health and medical research, our citizens are early adopters of new technology, and we have an abundance of innovative ideas,” the report found, “yet we must continue to ensure that we have the optimal environment required to create, build and nurture commercially viable and resilient fast-growth companies in emerging sectors.”

ANDHealth is a not-for-profit company established in 2017 by a consortium of industry partners with the goal of supporting Australian digital health companies to navigate the commercialisation pathway to institutional investment and international market entry.

Its ANDHealth+ program is Australia’s only industry-led, mid-stage digital health accelerator.

ANDHealth’s Chief Operating Officer Grace Lethlean will be presenting the ‘Case Study: Business Models in Health Tech and Addressing the User/Payer Tension’ at the Start Ups stream at Australian Healthcare Week on 27 March 2019.

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