Australia can be a global destination for digital health but only with the right settings

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A new report produced by ANDHealth says Australia must commit to sustained digital health investment to position itself as a global destination for innovation and commercialisation.

The state of the Industry report - The Awakening Giant: The Rise of Australia’s Evidence-Based Digital Health Sector - was launched at an event in Sydney yesterday.

“Australia’s evidence-based digital health sector has evolved significantly since 2020, with both the number and maturity of companies in ANDHealth’s pipeline increasing substantially,” said ANDHealth CEO and managing director, Bronwyn Le Grice.

“By bringing together our world-class health and medical research capabilities, and our growing technology expertise, Australia has the opportunity to capitalise on the global digital health sector - predicted to reach US$660 million by 2025 and build a high-growth industry that sees Australia’s health innovators and their innovations remain onshore.

“A thriving digital health sector will deliver jobs, exports and critical healthcare improvements for providers and patients, but The Awakening Giant report highlights that for evidence-based digital health technologies to make it to market, we need dedicated programs, larger investment pools, and clearer reimbursement pathways.”

The report utilised insights from 569 Australian digital health companies, It reveals that 85 per cent of digital health companies plan to raise capital and grow their team in the next 12 months, with six companies planning to raise in excess of $10 million.

Ms Le Grice said the intention of the majority of Australian digital health companies to raise capital in the next 12 months is an indicator of the sector's growth potential. She pointed to the achievements of participants of ANDHealth’s flagship ANDHealth+ and Masterclass programs, which have gone on to raise over $90 million, create 426 new jobs, initiate 67 new clinical studies, and impact more than 775,000 patients.

ANDHealth said one of the advantages of digital interventions is that they can be applied to a number of different health conditions. Nearly one in four companies are looking to leverage this and deploy solutions with applications across multiple disease states.

Around per cent of companies are developing technologies that are patient-centric, including solutions focused on disease self-management, patient behaviour change, and medication management.

Supporting our doctors and physicians is also a key area of focus with 18 per cent of companies focusing on clinical decision support.

The report also reveals median capital raised in the digital health sector remains low at just $278,500. However, resilience in the sector has increased with 41 per cent of companies now having more than 12 months of operating runway, up from 21 per cent in 2020.

It says that Australia needs to adopt regulation and reimbursement frameworks that incentivise new products, support programs proven to deliver meaningful clinical and commercial outcomes, and procurement processes that recognise, reward and stimulate Australian innovation.

“Looking forward, we have all the critical components of a powerhouse digital health sector which can drive immense economic and health benefits for all Australians,” added Ms Le Grice.

“As we look at how fast this sector is growing globally, it is clear that Australia needs to create investment capabilities and capacity with deep domain expertise and drive policy structures around reimbursement and procurement which recognise, reward and stimulate Australian innovation and commercialisation.”