RMIT University has announced a partnership with the European Connection Health Alliance to launch a digital health ecosystem in Australia.

The partnership and Melbourne Ecosystem, billed as Australia's first digital health ecosystem, is designed to strengthen the connections between patients, clinicians, researchers, policy makers, technology providers and the community, and follows the launch of groups in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malta.

RMIT is a facilitator of the Melbourne Ecosystem, which will continue to connect partners and collaborators through the ecosystem, encouraging membership and expansion to support significant topics to Australia.

While RMIT hosted the launch, the university noted this is a community-driven ecosystem with working group members representing industry, community, government, clinical and patient representatives, startups and researchers.

The working group currently plans to focus on the implementation plan themes around "data and design for better health."

"Australia's commitment to enabling healthy communities over the last six years can be seen through initiatives such as the investment in to the Medical Research Futures Fund, National Disability Insurance Scheme, the establishment of the Digital Health CRC, implementation of the My Health Record and the National Digital Health Strategy," Clare Russell, director of research partnerships and initiatives at RMIT, told Healthcare IT News.

She explained the ecosystem provides an "incredible opportunity" for stakeholders in Melbourne and across the country to leverage what is already happening and create even more value for their communities.

"The launch of the Melbourne Ecosystem was the start of something really special, and vitally important," she said. "We've started creating spaces where patients are at the centre of every action, and every stakeholder is heard and represented."

"All ECHAlliance Digital Health Ecosystems consist of all stakeholders in digital health working together to break down silos in health and social care to transform healthcare," said Andy Bleaden, ECHAlliance director of ecosystems and membership. "They are geographically based, permanent and lead with the need with citizens at their heart."

Bleaden explained they also all have an international focus to best use the multiplier effect of international cooperation and open avenues for internationalisation and scale up of solutions.

He said the most important digital tools to develop in healthcare today are those that enable listening to the question or patient need, tools that help with sharing data and information, platforms and applications that can break down silos, and tools that enable the sharing of best practices.

"Partnerships like these help with the development of those tools by asking citizens what they need, asking other stakeholders what they need, and looking internationally for best practices," he continued. "They also help showcase those best practices, help prevent 'not invented here' syndrome and help speed deployment, once they have been piloted effectively."

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