The rapid national large scale deployment of assistive technologies is essential if the growth in
healthcare costs is to be contained, to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation and enable the aged and
people with disability to better self-manage their health and remain at home longer.
Chronic illness and aged care accounted for over 70 per cent of Australia’s
$140 billion expenditure during 2011–12. The Australian economy cannot
sustain this expenditure over the long term. Health is now the second largest
area of Australian government expenditure. Hospitals, doctors and medicines
dominate our national health spending. Prices for dental, hospital and medical
services have risen more strongly than the consumer price index this decade.
Australia’s hospital-centric public health system is designed for acute care and is
unnecessarily burdened by the management of chronic disease. The delivery of
chronic disease management could be shifted to home and community settings
at a lower cost and with no loss of quality in services and treatments.
Telehealth and telecare technologies and services for the management of
chronic disease at home and in the community have been of intense interest
in developed western economies. This is because of unprecedented growth
rates of the ageing population and increasing morbidity as population ages,
which are placing great stress on established health care services. The result
will be increasing deficits in clinical human resources, rapid expansion of
disease management programs and increased patient demand for greater
Telecare and telehealth services delivered at home via information and
communications technologies (ICT) have been demonstrated to deliver
cost effective, timely and improved access to quality care. They also reduce
social dislocation and enhance the quality of life within these communities
by allowing chronically ill, the aged and people with disability to stay in their
homes and communities longer.
Australia’s experience with the deployment of telecare and telehealth services
is limited. Most deployments are small scale and lacking detailed analysis of
key success factors such as:
Despite large national investments in health ICT, very little policy work has
been undertaken in Australia in deploying telecare and telehealth in the
home as a solution to the increasing demands and costs of managing chronic
Evidence for ageing demographics and the increasing burden of chronic
disease is evident from the fact that Australians:
There is a need for policies and funding mechanisms to support efficient home services and the widespread use of assistive technologies. This could bring significant cost savings to both State and Federal Governments and health and age care consumers.
Policies and funding models are needed that are consistent, robust, auditable, long term and directed to those most in need must be developed. This will require:
There is an urgent need for measures that reduce unnecessary admissions to
hospitals particularly through active management of people needing aged
care and people with disability.
Figure 1: Assistive technologies can facilitate independence through supportive,
responsive and preventive mechanisms.
ATSE believes that Australia can deploy assistive technologies to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life for the
aged and people with disability by addressing these priority actions:
State and Federal Governments should implement policies that facilitate a range of services and service delivery mechanisms that enable citizens to remain independent, safe and healthy in their own homes for as long as
Research funding agencies and the private sector should work together to support R&D and innovation across the whole range of assistive technologies, recognising the particular challenges and complexity
of delivering healthcare services in unsupervised settings.
Regulatory and ethical approvals processes should be streamlined to reduce costs of the design, development and marketing of new assistive technology products and to ensure the wide implementation of
new health service delivery models that are safe and efficacious.
Education and capacity building activities are needed throughout the aged care sector, including health care providers, carers, ICT specialists, service providers and members of the community.
Enhancing Australia's prosperity through technology and innovation