Australia has taken a leading role in digital health internationally, with the announcement of a global network of health agencies that have come together to support the implementation of digital technologies.

At a summit in Canberra this week hosted by the Australian Digital Health Agency, representatives from 13 countries, Hong Kong SAR and the World Health Organisation joined in creating the Global Digital Health Partnership.

The coalition, which will allow international experts to share knowledge, learn from each other and collaborate on projects, satisfies a global appetite, according to the Chief Medical Adviser at the ADHA, Dr Meredith Makeham.

“It's been a great honour for us to have such an overwhelmingly big response with our first call to like-minded people around the globe who also felt that this was a very important initiative to support their local policy and initiatives,” Makeham told Healthcare IT News Australia.

“A lot of people have an appetite for this at the moment because of those shared challenges that we're all facing. So when Australia offered to bring this group together and start this thing called the Global Digital Health Partnership it was very warmly received around the world by many countries.”

The result of a number of bilateral and multilateral discussions, the GDHP brings together digital health experts from governments, government agencies and multinational organisations responsible for policy, funding, and the delivery of health services.

“We recognise that in Australia we face a lot of challenges in delivering digital services and we know that that is shared internationally by many countries around the world – that we're all facing the same issues about how to make our systems interoperable, how to get connected up care for people, how to give people access to their own health information, how to support clinicians and patients having happier and healthier lives,” Makeham said.

“And we know that digital health services around the country need to try and work in smarter ways to achieve that objective and where one country's been able to develop something that's working well the opportunity to share that with friends around the world and other governments and government agencies means that they don't have to reinvent the wheel and we can all learn from each other's evidence and evaluation.”

In its first year, the GDHP will collaborate on issues such as connected and interoperable healthcare, cyber security, policy support, clinician and consumer engagement, and evidence and evaluation.

This week’s summit attracted participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and the WHO.

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