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Taking technology to the bush for improved health outcomes

29 October 2015

Sen Nash Jamie Stanistreet_visitAdvances in medical technology are designed to improve the lives of all people that need them. Not just people who have easy access to healthcare facilities. The vast Australian landscape and state of healthcare services in rural and remote areas, means access to the latest advances in medical technology that could help improve and save lives varies. It shouldn’t be this way.

In discussing the issue with the Hon. Senator Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health, at a recent American Chamber of Commerce in Australia roundtable at our Medtronic Headquarters, the Minister’s enthusiasm for her portfolio was evident. Like us, she is genuinely excited about the potential for innovation to solve some of the toughest problems in Health. It will mean healthcare service delivery models may change – that the way Australians receive healthcare information changes… that chronic disease follows different care pathways. While we don’t have all the answers yet, we acknowledge that Australian healthcare requires transformation. So does Senator Nash.

What does this look like? According to attendees at our roundtable, the future technologies coming to health involve 3D printing of medical implants, organ regeneration, medical apps, biologics and personalised medicine.

But it’s not all just about the physical development of the technology itself. With these advances and the opportunities they bring to health, there are also challenges posed by the inertia of our existing systems for regulating and paying for health technology. These are real concerns that must be solved if we are truly committed to using technology to bring improved health services to rural and regional Australia and our Indigenous communities. Australian pathways for regulation and reimbursement of medical technologies is simply not keeping pace with the technologies that could be coming to market. The system needs to change and it needs to change fast.

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