Digital Health Festival in Melbourne

Digital Health Festival in Melbourne23 May 2024

Report from the Digital Health Festival in Melbourne

Our CEO, Jenni Falconer, has had an exciting and busy couple of weeks, speaking and collaborating at various conferences. A standout highlight was attending the Digital Health Festival 2024 which took place in Melbourne mid- May 2024.

Jenni attended along with 250 other New Zealanders eager to progress the telehealth space here in Aotearoa. She reported that it was heartening to see that innovation and aspiration is alive and well in our sector.

Here’s her quick report on the festival…

Day one got me thinking about how we, in the health sector, tackle challenges in a timely manner. Old school thinking is that you can go it alone and go fast (that’s tactical) or you can go together, with central leadership, but it’s slow-going (though strategic). I like the contemporary framework provided that encourages us to collaborate cross organisations and go smart. With clear direction and common goals, we can surely be both fast and strategic.

A key message that resonated throughout day one was that healthcare reform requires shared goals, agreed framework, and shared information. It reminds me of a Māori proverb we often use in Emergency Consult when onboarding business partners: Ehara tāku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini (our strength is not as individuals but as a collective). Health care is a team game!

I was excited to look around the massive exhibition. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise hosted a pavilion within the exhibition, which helped shine a light on some of our local companies keen to disrupt and connect in health tech. The Orion Health booth was notable with its stirring haka performance – they sure know how to draw a crowd unite all the Kiwis in attendance!

The tech being discussed and exhibited was inspiring - everything from robots to wearables. Samsung and Visionflex were just two of the companies that caught my eye – it’s easy to see how these techy tools can enhance virtual health.

The case studies on the Victorian Virtual ED and Mercy Virtual (in the US) were thought provoking and inspiring. While there are many similarities between what they’re doing and our service, these state-wide services are funded and properly integrated hybrid models at much larger scale.

A panel session featured New Zealand HealthTech disruptors (including executives from Orion Health, Stella Ward of Streamliners, Dr Stephen Pool of Core Schedule, and NZTE’s Robert Milson) inspired their audience with snippets from their work undertaken here in Aotearoa to connect care across the globe.

Networking within the NZ cohort was valuable, but I also enjoyed the opportunity to network with, and learn from, international delegates. The Digital Health Festival is Australia’s premiere health technology event and draws together approximately 3,000 health leaders. It’s a place where ideas spark, business cards are swapped, and collaboration is explored.

It was interesting and refreshing to see what’s happening within telehealth in Australia and aboard – as well as learning more about how technological advancements such as AI and devices (including wearables, hi-definition cameras, and thermal imaging) are shaping the future of virtual healthcare.

The festival was a full throttle, if short-lived, event. With 250-odd speakers, 5 stages, and a huge exhibition it was the perfect place to reenergise surrounded by thousands of like-minded people with a common mission to innovate and improve for the sake of driving healthcare into the future and making a difference.

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