The Australian Digital Health Agency wants to create an interoperability framework for Australia's healthcare environment that would link up all systems in order to better share health data.
It has set itself an ambitious five to ten-year timeline to have digital interoperability across the healthcare system.
The agency has released a request for tender [pdf] for a "strategic interoperability framework" made up of digital technologies and standards that would create a seamless digital experience for those using healthcare services.
The ADHA said it recognises the complexity involved in the task, as well as the data and privacy security concerns of patients and providers.
It promised that the Australian government would continue to own and operate the infrastructure underpinning this interoperability.
The firm it eventually selects to create the framework will be required to undertake a review of similar health system interoperability efforts overseas to learn from their mistakes and successes.
"Interoperability of Australia's health systems is a key driver of social justice in health care," the agency said.
"The challenge for the Australian health care sector is to recognise the opportunities and challenges of sharing data for its citizens through achieving a digitally interoperable environment, whilst ensuring the protection and confidentiality of their personal health information."
It acknowledged that the healthcare system is currently difficult to navigate in terms of being able to easily access the cost, quality, and availability of various services.
"A digitally interoperable environment for the Australian health and care system is a key enabler needed to support the delivery of the core requirements for raising Australia's standards of health and well-being," the agency said.
The ADHA defines interoperability as the ability for two or more systems to share, communicate and co-operate, but said its envisioned framework goes beyond the technical foundation to include the broader social and economic context.
"The ambition to achieve interoperability within Australia's health system recognises that its successful delivery serves people rather than systems, by ensuring that the care and support of Australians is paramount, both when well and unwell, and regardless of their ability to pay at the point of service," the agency said.
"Ultimately, an interoperable health system will provide a seamless service experience for a person using health services."
The framework will be used as the foundation for an implementation plan that will "address current disconnections" and make Australia's healthcare system interoperable within between five and ten years.
The ADHA expects to start the procuremant phase for the development of the framework in the middle of the year. RFT responses close June 26.