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The Institute salutes the extraordinary work of all healthcare professionals across Australasia this year. There is no doubt the pandemic tested – and continues to test – every facet of the health system, and there has been enormous participation by Institute Fellows and Members in the response to COVID-19. In our founding year, often in difficult circumstances, we have strengthened relationships and built many new connections which cements the future success of the Institute.

Members applauded when virtual care took the spotlight earlier in the year, with the Government switching GPs on to telehealth almost overnight. Health data went mainstream with dashboards monitoring every aspect of the pandemic, and digital public health has emerged as the new rising star.

With such a strong focus on digital health solutions in all quarters, it’s no surprise the Institute grew its membership with a surge in Fellowships and organisational partnerships.

None of us have emerged unscathed from the personal, economic and social impacts of the pandemic, but the Institute can report many advances nevertheless:

  • Our successful launch in February 2020 after the merger of the Australasian College of Health Informatics and the Health Informatics Society of Australia,
  • Setting a new course and workforce strategy under our new brand, with new avenues of collaboration and partnership,
  • A complete turnaround in member services during COVID-19 as we pivoted to virtual conferences, new online meeting formats, “ZoomBars” for networking and the first ever hybrid Institute Summit,
  • The launch of a new health executive pathway to Fellowship, opening up professional development and recognition to a strong sector,
  • Perfectly timed in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the development of a national Nursing Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework, in collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency and numerous nursing and midwifery peak bodies,
  • Acclaim for the growing certification program CHIA and applause for the 1000th CHIA Dr Andrew Brunton,
  • Publication of guiding safety and privacy principles for the Government’s launch of the COVID-Safe App,
  • A new white paper exploring transformational digital health by a Fellow, Board executive and senior health informatician David Rowlands,
  • The re-launch of a student network and engagement with PhD students through the Fellowship by Training program,
  • Formation of InGeNA, a new industry alliance to support genomics in the digital health space and pave the way for a major contribution to Australian genomics in 2021.

Next year will bring its own challenges and rewards. But today I want to thank all of our Fellows, Associate Fellows, Members, organisational partners and sponsors who are driving the #digitalhealth movement and who share the vision for healthier lives, digitally enabled, for all Australians.

I look forward to working with you all next year. See you in 2021!

Dr Louise Schaper PhD FAIDH FIAHSI CHIA BSc(OT)Hons
CEO, Australasian Institute of Digital Health

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