Digital health companies have blasted the Australian Federal Government, claiming it stifles innovation and called an overhaul of procurement processes.
More than half (53%) of respondents surveyed In the Medical Software Industry Association’s “Beyond The Pandemic – Future Proofing Australia’s Health Technology Industry” report also see the government’s ICT procurement processes as unfair.
A further 74 per cent felt unsupported by government.
The report features responses from 150 companies from start-ups to large listed entities, two thirds of which (68%) provided pandemic-related services.
International companies ‘being favoured’
Almost 61% believe they are being denied a fair go with international companies being favoured over Australian companies in Federal Government contracts.
“We need to be able to compete on a level playing field in a fair ICT procurement framework,” the report says.
The report acknowledges the pandemic led to “unprecedented cooperation between the industry and government, with an enhanced level of collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency and the Department of Health.
Thirty-five percent of respondents received government funding for pandemic-related work but, of those, only 6% said it covered expenditure.
The MSIA represents the interests of the Australian commercial software industry, which develops, supplies and services information management products throughout the nation’s healthcare system.
What the report recommends
Of the five recommendations presented in the report, one suggests: “A scheme whereby guarantees are provided to match the balance sheets of the large internationals who get the contracts at over price because they can bear the cost of future failures if things go wrong. Big names don’t always match homegrown successes. In 2018-19, Australian Government expenditure on ICT related goods and services was over $3.9 billion, so much is at stake.”
The other four recommendations include:
- A sustainable business case for MBS or other transaction payments for services to support industry and reduce medication errors ‘costing $1.4 billion annually.’
- A calibrated healthcare system to allow individuals to interact with their healthcare and funding to enable the thousands of healthcare systems to be safely interconnected.
- ‘A fair go’ in selling products to government and providers: “There are nine sets of differing requirements that software companies need to manage to sell their software. It is expensive for all parties, especially taxpayers,” the report says.
- Training incentives and investment in talent, including in cybersecurity.
Go to the MSIA website to read the full report.