20 November 2008
It’s a fact of life: no organisation, not even governments, likes to spend money on something unless they can see that it will make or save money. Well, here’s some evidence about the money-saving aspects of personal health records (PHRs) that should make governments, even in Australia, sit up and take notice. The AusHealthIT blog has uncovered a story about a US study that claims the implementation of PHRs across the American healthcare system will save more than US$21 billion a year, through things such as more efficient monitoring and sharing medication lists.
As AusHealthIT blogger David More writes, “If PHRs can deliver even half of these benefits I will take two, thanks!”
One important caveat – the study was funded by ‘unrestricted grants’ from companies including Microsoft and Google, which of course have a vested interest in the success of electronic PHRs…
19 November 2008
From today’s Australian IT: “Medicare Australia wants medical specialists who have largely resisted online connectivity to come on board with Eclipse, its e-claiming system for hospitals.
“The Electronic Claims Lodgement Information Processing Service Environment allows privately insured hospital patients to pay their doctors bill by lodging a single claim to both Medicare and their insurer. It also gives the patient warning of any out-of-pocket expenses.
“Only 40 per cent of medical specialists have computers and IT infrastructure to support online claiming, compared with over 90 per cent of GPs who use computers in their practices, and almost 100 per cent of pharmacists.
“As an incentive, medical specialists in metropolitan areas will receive a one-off $750 payment to cover start-up costs and $1000 for those in rural and remote areas. In addition, practices will receive an incentive payment of 18 cents every time a claim is sent electronically.”
Read the rest here.
13 November 2008
In a follow-up to my earlier post about NEHTA’s budget spend, they’ve gone from being criticised for underspending their budget to criticised for over-spending on the wrong things. Australian IT reports that the authority has more than doubled its spend on administration – staff, consultants, etc. – over last year, 169 people costing nearly $30 million. My calculator tells me that works out at nearly $178,000 per head, so either they have the best-paid staff in the public service, or the consultants, who account for $13 million of the total, are raking it in. Hey, how do I get on the gravy train?
12 November 2008
Australians support the introduction of an Individual Electronic Health Record (IEHR) and would agree to their medical records being included in the service.
This is according to a poll conducted on behalf of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), which showed that 82% of respondents believe an IEHR would save lives and improve health services by having important medical information immediately assessable. 77% of the 2,700 people surveyed across Australia indicated they would want their records added to the service.
“This research confirms Australians endorse the use of electronic health records if they are introduced with all the necessary levels of privacy and security,” said NEHTA chief executive Peter Fleming.
The news was welcomed by AMA president Rosanna Capolingua, who reiterated the organisation’s long-time support of electronic health records, but also highlighted issues such as patient confidentiality and system access, as the issues delaying implementation. “Maybe not next year, but hopefully soon after we may see some movement,” she suggested.
Security and safety around the electronic storage of medical information was a key consideration, with 79% of those polled indicating it was important any future IEHR offers patients the ability to quarantine sensitive or very personal medical information. The poll also showed that Australians feel strongly about choice in relation to the IEHR. 78% of respondents said the IEHR service should be voluntary.
– From 6 minutes
3 November 2008
I know governments are usually taken to task for overspending their budgets, but the Federal Department of Health is getting a reputation for underspending when it comes to e-health. The Australian reports that the DoH spent only $42.5 million out of the $53.8 million allocated for e-health implementation in 2007-08. This follows on from the previous year, when the Department spent only $37.5 million from a budget of $79 million allocated to national products, including the failed HealthConnect.
Exactly what did it spend money on? According to the report, the department saw success in the development with the National E-health Transition Authority (NEHTA) of individual and provider identifiers, standardised clinical terminologies and secure messaging standards.
“In addition, the department worked closely with NEHTA on the development of targeted packages to support the implementation of electronic discharge, specialist referral and pathology clinical services,” it says.
“The department also contributed to the development of the National E-Health Strategy through the national e-Health Information Principal committee. When the strategy is implemented, it will allow significantly greater inter-jurisdictional and national co-ordination of e-health policy direction.”
The report says a major achievement was an e-prescribing trial in the Northern Territory, in a community pharmacy and aged care setting, resulting in fewer misplaced prescriptions and delays in mailing or faxing scripts.
However, as The Australian points out, “industry observers have noted that the trial involved a limited, point-to-point transmission service, rather than a scalable interchange system needed for a robust national e-prescribing system.”
What we really need to know is, what was that $11 million supposed to be spent on? What is being unnecessarily delayed because of government disorganisation and apathy? How much longer has the promised e-health nirvana been pushed back?