Health IT research gets $20M boost

ICT aiming to improve healthcare industry

The Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) became a national institution today with $20 million in funding from the federal and Queensland governments.

Established in 2003 as a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland government, the Brisbane-based AEHRC is used for ICT-related CSIRO health research.

Funding of $20 million will be provided to fund the centre's operations until 2012, CSIRO announced today.

The AEHRC has also relocated to new premises at the University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

CSIRO ICT Centre deputy director Dr Darrell Williamson said the AEHRC has established research nodes in Adelaide and Melbourne, and is realizing the potential of ICT for improving health outcomes.

The AEHRC research program delivers to CSIRO's Preventative Health Flagship.

Research at the AEHRC is leading to the development of simulated training tools, home monitoring systems for patients recovering from heart problems, and improved imaging techniques to facilitate early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

Advanced software tools are also being used to analyze data sets to help improve cancer care, better understand the risks associated with anaesthesia, and enable secure and ready access of electronic medical records for health professionals.

AEHRC medical director Professor Bruce Barraclough said the centre's research is starting to fulfil expectations that health IT can make a real difference to the delivery of healthcare.

The centre's CEO Gary Morgan said there is a strong focus on seeing research innovation translated into outcomes for patients and health professionals.

"The funding renewal will allow us to complete some major projects as well as initiate some new projects with a national focus," Morgan said.

"They will be undertaken with some of the best practitioners and hospitals across Australia - ensuring we have the critical mass to apply technology to make a real difference to health outcomes."

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