Austrade has launched a digital health website showcasing Australia as an ideal location for developing, testing and launching the next generation of digital medical technologies.
The site includes listings, case studies and data on sub-sectors where Australia is a significant contributor to global medical solutions. These include telemedicine, precision medicine and genomics, big data and artificial intelligence, digital records and virtual reality.
According to Denise Eaton, Senior Adviser, Austrade, institutions and agencies are rapidly extending the scope of in-country medical research. Australian companies are globally recognised high performers in manufacturing and prototyping, as well as traditional research and development.
‘Medical innovation is in our DNA,’ says Eaton. ‘Our background – in terms of vast distances, remote settlements and a multicultural society – means we have a tradition of having to innovate.’
Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service a global pioneer for telemedicine
One example is Australia’s pioneering approach to telemedicine. According to Eaton, the global reputation gained by Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service is just one example of Australia’s strength in telehealth.
Eaton cites an Australian company, Visionflex, which has created portable live-video equipment for real-time remote examination and diagnostics that integrates into electronic health records – including Australia’s national personally controlled health care record, My Health Record.
‘Visionflex demonstrates how a patient in an Antarctic camp can be examined and remotely assessed by an Australian consultant located in India, and the results automatically updated to the patient’s electronic health record in Australia.’
The A$20 billion boost to health research
Medical innovation in Australia is set for a sustained boost following the government’s A$20 billion investment in the Medical Research Future Fund
The fund builds on Australia’s established position at the forefront of pharmaceuticals development. Today, the country hosts 50 clinical research networks and bio labs, and hosts – on average –1,300 clinical trials per year.
Eaton points out that as a venue for piloting and developing medical technologies, Australia has exceptional assets: first-world medicine, a creative IT sector, and a history of producing Nobel laureates and game-changing devices – like the cochlear implant.
One result is a significant increase in venture capital committed to medical technologies and digital health.
‘Investment from venture capitalists more than doubled between 2016 and 2017,’ says Eaton. ‘What’s more, we’re seeing a significant increase in interest from Asian investors – especially in medical science technology.
‘What overseas companies don’t realise is our strength in medical pilots and product development. Today, digital medicine is one of the most innovative sectors in our economy.’