While access to digital primary healthcare services has improved over the years, a digital divide remains for some Australian communities.
Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability among First Nations Australians, a population impacted by the disparity of available and culturally appropriate digital healthcare services.
Now Professor Khorshed Alam of the University of Southern Queensland will join a team of researchers to address the issue of digital health inequality, thanks to a $926,568 Medical Research Future Fund grant from the Australian Government.
Professor Alam says the project, led by The University of Queensland, aims to provide a new model of innovative and tailored digital health care services to help prevent, detect and manage chronic illnesses among the at-risk First Nations people.
“My research, undertaken in rural and regional Queensland over the past ten years, will serve as the foundation for understanding the digital divide and social determinants of health,” Professor Alam said.
“I have learned that every successful strategy needs to be customised, culturally appropriate and should have a sense of ownership among the receivers.”
Currently, the rates of preventable hospitalisations for chronic illnesses are higher among First Nations communities, with residents in remote and isolated locations being the most vulnerable.
According to Professor Alam, achieving improved health outcomes requires timely screening and early intervention, which would help slow the course of chronic diseases and hospital admissions while enhancing quality of life.
“We aim to achieve this by co-designing a new model of healthcare through consultation with the First Nations community,” he said.
“These digitally enabled primary care services will utilise point-of-care testing devices and remote patient monitoring tools.
“The health outcomes of this project, as well as its sustainability and scalability, will be monitored and assessed, and an economic evaluation of health outcomes will be conducted to determine value for money.”
Learn more about the University’s School of Business.