Australian government won’t be drawn on e-health implementation

From Australian Doctor:

The Federal Government is refusing to set a deadline for national e-health records, despite admitting the system is fundamental to its ambitious reform program.

Recently, a further $216 million was handed over to fund the body responsible for making e-health a reality: the National E-Health Transition Authority.

An additional $1 billion is expected to be committed for infrastructure development via the Council of Australian Governments.

Federal Health Minister Ms Nicola Roxon said: “Workforce and e-health are the chief enablers of all the health reforms. Without them the reforms will not be able to work.”

But she would not be drawn on a timetable for when the system will be in place, only stressing that it would be after 2010.

“The steps are going ahead but I can’t give you a date. It takes a lot of time,” she told Australian Doctor.

She also said no decision had been made on the government’s role in delivering national e-health records.

The e-health system in the NHS cost the UK government about $15 billion. The first of some 50 million e-health records were rolled out in 2007, but the project’s implementation was dogged by delays and rising costs.

Ms Roxon said: “I don’t think it is necessary for us to go down the NHS route of us owning and running the entire storage system. It did seem to be very expensive in the UK. I’ve met with some of the people involved in the delivery of the NHS system. They are not convinced that it’s the model you would use if you started again.”

“I’m agnostic about it. We will go with what will work.”

– By Paul Smith