Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Major government investments sine 2016 are leading to rapid development in the sector.

Australia has an advanced health care system, a world-class health and medical research sector, and an entrepreneurial and successful technology sector. The sector is globalized, with the majority of medical technologies and devices utilized by Australian health care providers being provided by international companies (more than 80% of medical devices used in Australia are imported).

Since 2016, the Australian government has invested heavily in digital health infrastructure, including:

Even though telehealth has been around for a long time in Australia, uptake to date has been limited, with it mostly being used in remote or isolated communities. There has, however, been a strong recent shift in attitudes about digital health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital health technologies across health care systems in Australia and has demonstrated an urgent need to find safe ways to keep non-critically ill patients out of hospital and in the comfort of their own homes.

According to recent analysis conducted by Pulse + IT, in Australia 2020 was the year of telehealth, remote monitoring and virtual care, with a large number of trials and pilots conducted in Australia, indicating that the industry is committing to proof-of-concept projects.

Importantly for Wisconsin exporters, a recent Frost & Sullivan report has outlined solutions to address Australia’s major health care challenges that present opportunities for providers of digital health technologies. The areas of particular concern, and the corresponding technology solutions, include:

  • Overdependence on inpatient care in cases where needs could be met by telehealth/telemedicine, home monitoring, wearables, ambient sensors, etc.
  • The need to improve resource utilization, creating opportunities for technologies that improve health care workflows and can demonstrate return on investment, such as radiology information technology, RFID tags and enterprise communication platforms
  • The challenge of ensuring effective chronic disease management, creating opportunities for predictive solutions for diagnostics and telehealth and cloud platforms for home care, chronic disease management and patient engagement
  • A desire to improve in-home clinical support by providing interoperable systems without compromising the quality and safety of health care services and patient data

Wisconsin exporters considering pursuing opportunities in the Australian market should consider the local regulations managed through the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), including the regulation of software-based medical devices (which takes effect in February 2021), Australian Consumer Law, and Security and Health Data Privacy Requirements.

Exporters of products that are subject to these regulations must appoint an Australian representative sponsor to obtain regulatory approval from the TGA. For companies not subject to these requirements, appointing a local partner that has connections and understands funding models in the public and private sector on upgrading or integrating health technologies and solutions will still increase chances of success in the market.