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The challenge

Australia’s existing healthcare system cannot support our ageing population

Australia’s population is ageing rapidly, with the number of people aged over 85 almost doubling between 1996 and 2016. The money required to manage the chronic disease and illness management associated with an ageing population places an enormous strain on our nation’s healthcare spending, currently about nine per cent of GDP.

Our existing model of healthcare, where 80 per cent of our healthcare spending provides illness management for 20 per cent of the population, will not continue to cope with this change. If the system does not adapt, CSIRO megatrends research shows our healthcare spending will bankrupt the nation by 2100.

Thanks to continued advancements in science, people will be living longer and longer. Australia needs to move away from a trial-and-error approach in managing illness, and increase the focus on preventing illness and keeping healthy people healthy.

Our response

Our opportunity to address Australia's health challenges

[Animation images move through of stars in a night sky, a digital image of a world globe, and then a glowing light flits across from left to right in front of the globe and text appears across the middle: LIFE]

Narrator: Life, full of mystery and wonder, a journey with no road map to guide us.

[Animation image shows circles appearing around the glowing light and then a grid with pinpointed dots appearing underneath the glowing light as it speeds towards a glowing circle]

But, what if there was a map?

[Animation image shows an aerial view of the glowing circle and with the glowing light flitting across the surface]

What if we could see what was coming?

[Music plays and the animation image morphs into a night sky and then morphs into a digital image of  the human body with arms outstretched and text appears: Would you want to know early?]

If there was a high chance you would develop cancer later in life, would you want to know early?

[Animation image changes to show a digital image of a world globe encircled with green rings and with Australia facing outwards]

What if knowing early meant you could get better help to prevent it?

[Animation image morphs into a digital image of a person wearing a breathing mask and text appears: Sicker than any other developed country]

While Australia has the third highest life expectancy in the world, we also spend more of our last years of life sicker than any other developed country.

[Animation image changes to show a digital image of a microscope and the camera zooms in on the microscope and text appears: Healthier for longer]

But now science is giving us the chance to stay healthier for longer.

[Animation image then morphs into a spiralling DNA chain encircled with rings and then the image changes to show coloured dots encircled inside a membrane and text appears: Gene Activation, Microbiome, The microorganisms in a particular environment (Including the body or part of the body)]

We now know that while DNA is important, how and why your body activates genes within your DNA maybe even more important and by uncovering secrets about the microbiome and its role in different diseases,

[Animation image changes to show digital images of three people in a row and the image rotates in an anticlockwise direction and then the camera focuses on the middle person spinning and text appears: A personalised system based on you]

we can move from a health system based on the average person to a personalised system based on you.

[Animation image of the person continues to spin with arms held out and text flashes through: Diet, Lifestyle, Medical advice, Disease risks]

A system where diet, lifestyle and medical advice is based on what diseases you’re most at risk of and early planning on how to intervene.

[Animation images move through of the person running towards and then away from the camera, digital images of fish, digital images of trees and then the person running through the trees]

Imagine exercise tailored for your genetic make-up and new foods, diets and ingredients that give you all the nutrition your body needs.

[Camera zooms in on the person running and then the camera zooms out to show three people running and then the people gradually move down and disappear off the bottom of the screen]

Knowing your body better gives you the power to take control of your own personal health profile and gives a road map to live your best life.

[Animation image changes to show a blue screen and the CSIRO logo and text appears: Precision Health]

Precision health, your future, your health.

[Music plays and text appears on a blue screen: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]

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The advent of precision health offers the promise of, more affordably, keeping people healthy by better anticipating and preventing disease (by taking into account the variability in genes, lifestyle and environment of each person).

The impact of precision health is rapidly accelerating, powered by advances in biosciences (gene sequencing, microbiome and epigenetics) and digital technologies (data analytics, artificial intelligence, biosensors and digital health strategies). Australia has an opportunity to build a healthier and wealthier Australia by harnessing its world‑class expertise, in medical research, digital health, agrifood and medical technologies, to help lead global advances in precision health.

Precision Health will transform the way we manage our health by:

  • changing the emphasis from treating illness to keeping people healthy by better predicting, and delaying, the on‑set of chronic disease
  • adopting a wider view of health (beyond the 10 percent that is driven by clinical care) to include other key influencers of health (genomics, gut microbiome, environmental, behavioural and social factors)
  • integrating data to deliver insights through predictive data platforms that capture, integrate and analyse data sets to build personal health profiles
  • moving from a ‘one-sized-fits all’ trial and error to more effective, personalised solutions to keep people healthy
  • shifting from a provider centric to consumer centric model supported by digital tools to help people track their health status and make better decisions.

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