Hon Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Hon Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Former Premier; Minister for Tourism; Science

    Healthy research outlook at Science on the Swan

    3/05/2016 9:00 AM
    • Conference focus on population health research data and disease prevention
    • Hackathon targets burns, Body Mass Index and blood testing
    • Review of WA health data linkage system aims to broaden research benefits 

    The role of genetics in cancer diagnosis and the potential for artificial intelligence to help predict and prevent chronic conditions are among the innovations to be explored at Science on the Swan 2016.


    Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett said the three-day international conference, starting today and run in parallel with Perth Big Data Week 2016, would focus on how data application and research could improve public health outcomes.


    "We know that a strong and vibrant health system is one that values and promotes medical research," Mr Barnett said.


    "Science on the Swan will see international presentations alongside leading Western Australian research, including a tool that should one day enable doctors to diagnose and monitor the treatment of rare diseases simply by taking a 3D photograph of a patient's face.


    "The conference will also include a two-day 'Health and Well-being Ideation' hackathon, where secondary and tertiary student teams will target solutions to important health challenges through collaborative computer programming."


    The hackathon will tackle three key issues: better burns patient management, especially in regional WA; innovative charting of blood test results to encourage personal preventative healthcare; and improved Body Mass Index systems to target the $253 million annual cost of managing overweight and obese West Australians.


    The Premier also announced a high-level review of data linkage capabilities.  Data linkage is a research technique that connects pieces of information from a variety of sources that relate to the same person or family, a valuable tool for analysing health trends and promoting preventative medicine.


    "WA has been a leader in population health data linkage for decades, with other jurisdictions taking the State's lead, particularly on systems to protect privacy," Mr Barnett said.


    "We are looking to replicate our outstanding health data linkage systems across other areas of government, with Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken to chair an expert advisory group including Professor Fiona Stanley and Government Chief Information Officer Giles Nunis."


    The advisory group is due to report to the Premier in August 2016.


    Fact File

    Premier and Science Minister's office - 6552 5000