Carmel Hillyard is an experienced director with a life sciences industry background. After a career spanning medical research in London to inventing and developing diagnostics in Brisbane, she co-founded venture capital firm, CM Capital and led its Life Sciences team, investing and taking an active rôle on the board of pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies. Carrie has also served on government, charity and university commercialisation company boards and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Passionate about assisting young people to achieve their life and career goals, she mentors those looking for industry connections or to redirect their careers into industry, most recently through ATSE’s IMNIS program. She is involved in the start-up ecosystem and mentors founders and entrepreneurs developing their ideas.
In recognition of her contributions to biotechnology, she has received awards from AusBiotech and Women in Technology and a Centenary medal.
Carmel was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2019.
Abstract – Turning health tech into better health outcomes: how ready are we to adopt disruptive healthcare technologies?
The aim of developing any health technology is to improve human health outcomes but the most innovative, efficacious technology in the world will not be effective if it is not adopted into practice. Sometimes the market just isn’t ready, leading to missed opportunities for treating, diagnosing or preventing major health issues.
So how can we ensure that introduction of new technologies is as rapid and smooth as possible? A range of barriers can slow or prevent widespread adoption of new, disruptive health technologies by the target market which can include a range of end-users including clinicians, healthcare workers, patients and in some cases, the wider population. Assessing technology readiness can help overcome these barriers and quickly lead to widespread use and health impact.
In this presentation, Carrie will discuss a methodology for assessing tech readiness developed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), which has been applied to the health sector in Australia. This approach aims to identify major barriers and prioritise actions needed to prepare for introduction of new technology. It is designed as a broadly applicable method that could be applied to other nations, sectors other than health and specific target groups or technologies.
When applied to the Australian health sector, ATSE’s readiness analysis found that there were several barriers to adoption of new health technologies in Australia as we move towards a technology-enabled health system. Furthermore, these could be addressed through targeted action. The key findings and recommendations from the study were provided to the Australian Government and distributed widely across the sector.
To address the key barriers, Australia needs to:
- Transition to interoperable electronic health records – Australia has federal and state-based healthcare systems with limited interoperability across healthcare settings from hospitals to primary care (ie general practice), across both public and private healthcare. A switch to electronic health records for all healthcare providers would be a significant first step to addressing this barrier. This should be supported with clear communications about privacy and cybersecurity, which were the main concerns raised regarding widespread use of electronic records.
- Improve equity of access to healthcare through technology – Use of telehealth and AI-enabled devices must increase to support equitable outcomes for people living with disadvantage, to improve access and reduce financial burden.
- Support the existing and future healthcare workforce in the transition. The healthcare workforce – existing and future – must be equipped with the skills to adopt new technologies in daily practice. Supporting and empowering the national healthcare workforce to retrain, adapt and develop digital skills will be essential for introduction of new digital technologies in healthcare.
- Provide targeted support for a thriving health technology sector. Australian Governments must support investment in improving pathways to commercialisation for Australian-developed medical technology.
Carrie will also share examples of new disruptive health technologies developed in Australia, discuss barriers to their adoption and how the inventors are tackling these to increase likelihood of uptake in both Australian and global markets. These include Clinials, a digital, interactive platform for more efficient recruitment of participants in clinical trials and Fitgenes, which was one of the first companies globally to use genomics to assist with wellness and prevent chronic disease but struggled with uptake by medical practitioners.
While there is an appetite for new disruptive health technology across the globe, each nation likely faces different barriers to translation into widespread health practice. The methodology developed and published by ATSE and discussed in this presentation can be used to understand your country’s technology readiness, what could slow down adoption of life saving health technology and how to put measures in place to accelerate uptake and improve health outcomes.