Digital Baby Book Budget boost for parents

Investments in digital technologies and children’s health will have long term benefits for Australians.

The 2018 Federal Budget, announced on 8 May, is notable for its emphasis on long--term investments in the health of Australians, particularly in children’s health and digital health technologies.

Better health from day one

New parents currently receive a hard copy “blue book” to record and track their children’s health and immunisation milestones, but this will be phased out in favour of a digital record next year. The Budget allocated $5 million to the development of a Digital Baby Book, which will let parents compile a complete medical history for their children from the very start of life, ensuring that their children need never be without the medical information they need to ensure optimal health.

$77.9 million has also been allocated to programs targeted at improving infant and maternal health, such as diet and exercise recommendations for expectant mothers, as well as free whooping cough vaccines. Together, these initiatives are expected to save money over the longer term by reducing reliance on the healthcare system in later life.

Digital health investments

$1.3 billion will be invested over 10 years in a new National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan, which will cement Australia’s status as a global centre for medical research and innovation. This will include a $500 million investment in genomics research to develop the use of precision medicine.

Other investments include $92 million to the Digital Transformation Agency for the GovPass system, which enables unified digital identification across government services to improve access and reduce duplication. The Australian Health Institute of Health and Welfare received $30 million for technology upgrades and better data sharing capabilities.

Pharmacy gets a boost with $15.3 million allocated to introduce a national electronic prescribing system for the PBS, due to begin in October 2019. This measure will improve medicines safety and compliance, as well as overall efficiency.