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 opportunity to address Australia's health challenges
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.