A smiling doctor with her laptop in a busy hospital emergency department.

Using e-health technologies and models of care to enable a safe, sustainable health care system.

Enabling a revolution in healthcare through e-health innovation

CSIRO is using information and communication technologies to build a sustainable health care system for Australia and meet the challenges of an aging population.

  • 28 July 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011

Spending on health care in Australia more than doubled to 9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the four-and-a-half decades to 2005–06. This will increase to 16–20 per cent of GDP by 2045, according to estimates from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2008.

Australia's National e-Health Strategy (compiled by Deloitte in 2008) said:

Australia’s health system delivers some of the world’s best health outcomes. However, maintaining or improving these outcomes in the face of growing pressures on the health care system will require a fundamental change in the way health care is delivered.

e-Health: a new approach

CSIRO’s e-health research focuses on prevention, early detection and treatment, integration of care and self-management.

e-Health is both the infrastructure underpinning information exchange between all participants in the Australian health care system and a critical enabler and driver of improved health outcomes for all Australians.

e-Health promises alternative delivery mechanisms for many existing health services and allows new services to be developed and deployed in health care facilities, community settings and private homes.

The outcomes will be:

  • better patient information at the point of care
  • greater use of remote technology
  • improved use of existing imaging technology for diagnosis and treatment.

In 2008 the Allen Consulting Group estimated that a shift to e-health will:

  • reduce annual healthcare costs by A$4.3–5.4 billion
  • increase real GDP by A$7.5–8.7 billion annually (08/09 dollars) within a decade.

The Medical Journal of Australia reported in 2006 that e-health will also reduce medical errors, with their A$3 billion yearly price tag, saving more than 1500 lives each year.

Our capabilities

CSIRO, through the Preventative Health Flagship and its specialist research Divisions, such as the ICT Centre, brings broad expertise to the national challenge of providing a sustainable healthcare system for Australia.

CSIRO engages with the health system through the Australian e-Health Research Centre, a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government.

Our research agenda

CSIRO's e-health research focuses on:

  • prevention − We are building a better understanding of the causes of chronic disease.
  • early detection and treatment − We are providing access to linked data sets to study the progression of particular diseases and improve diagnostic tools.
  • integration of care − Through better understanding how humans interact with technology, we seek to enhance communication, collaboration and knowledge and to support different models of care.
  • self-management − We seek to enhance self-care through the use of personal monitoring devices.

The role of broadband

The National Broadband Network (NBN) provides opportunities to significantly improve healthcare services throughout Australia.

For example, building on CSIRO technologies, it will be possible to deliver:

  • improved home-based care systems
  • an intelligent portal for medical image analysis
  • improved access to medical data.

Telehealth track record

CSIRO’s expertise in advanced networks, collaborative tools and immersive technologies has resulted in several telehealth applications that rely on broadband technologies.

For example:

Discover some of our e-health projects by downloading our brochure CSIRO e-health innovation: enabling a revolution in healthcare.