Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The Australian state's population is widely dispersed, increasing the importance of home-based care and mobile health solutions.

Queensland is geographically the second-largest of Australia’s six states, occupying about 25 percent of the continent. Its population of 4.7 million is expected to increase to 6.1 million within 10 years, and most of this growth will occur in the southeast corner. Queensland has the most geographically dispersed population in Australia.

Furthermore, Queensland has the largest state health system in the Southern Hemisphere. The state’s public health system is complex, with 182 public hospitals and a workforce of more than 80,000 people. To plan for future population growth, the Queensland government (as well as private sector operators) are focused on building new or expanding current health facilities and senior care centers, while also testing new technologies to allow people to remain at home later in the lifespan.

In 2015-2016, Queensland Health’s operating budget increased by $412 million ($561 Australian) to $10.5 billion ($14.2 billion Australian), of which about 65 percent is spent on wages and about 25percent ($2.6 billion) on goods and services.

Recent project examples include $143 million ($194 million Australian) to be spent over four years on supporting the reconfiguration of services in the Sunshine Coast region, north of Brisbane, to enable the safe startup of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, a new 450-bed public tertiary teaching hospital which will open in April 2017 at an overall cost of $1.3 billion ($1.7 billion Australian). Scheduled to grow to a 738-bed facility by 2021, it is being built on the Sunshine Coast Health Campus, which also hosts the hospital’s Skills, Academic and Research Center (SARC) and a private hospital operated by Ramsay Health Care.

Funding has also been allocated toward the Gold Coast University Hospital, one of Queensland’s newest and largest (750-bed) clinical teaching and research facilities, located south of Brisbane with an operating budget of $880 million ($1.2 billion Australian).

Australia’s first fully integrated and regional digital hospital – St. Stephen's Private Hospital – was opened in Hervey Bay in Queensland in December 2014. The $71 million ($96 million Australian) hospital received about 50 percent of its funding from the federal government’s Health and Hospitals Fund.

To support this physical infrastructure investment, the Queensland government and private sector operators are also investigating health technology solutions (e.g., health-smart homes, integrated health portals and mobile health solutions) that may allow them to better treat patients remotely and ideally keep patients in the home longer. This is especially important in Queensland since the health system must service many remote and rural centers across a vast geographic area.

Wisconsin exporters wishing to investigate opportunities in the Queensland public health sector are encouraged, as a starting point, to review Queensland Health’s procurement division, known as Health Support Queensland, and also the Queensland government’s tender website.  Exporters wishing to target the private hospital sector in Queensland should start by researching the key players (e.g., Ramsay, Healthscope) to learn more about their future expansion plans and their procurement procedures. Establishing partnerships with local importers, distributors and service providers who are already doing business with this sector in Queensland will also certainly assist Wisconsin companies to gain traction faster and to win business in the region.