Surprise, surprise – e-health records >3 years away

The Australian Doctor website reports today that Australia “is at least three years away from introducing shared e-health records for every patient — despite $150 million being sunk into e-health programs over the past eight years.”

 

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, when interviewed by the Australian Financial Review last week, refused to commit to a 2012 deadline for a national e-health record system.Clinical leader of the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and ex-AMA president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal told Australian Doctor, “There is no element of the reform agenda that can succeed unless we have a decent underpinning by a robust e-health system.”NEHTA is believed to be looking initially at a minimum-quality data set – limited to information such as allergies, hospital history and medical conditions to ensure there is enough information “to treat the patient safely”.

RACGP e-health spokesperson, Dr Nathan Pinskier, said while a national e-health record would provide an informed framework for each patient’s care, “GPs were concerned about being overloaded with information not related to their interactions with the patient.”

More on the budget

David More’s Australian Health Information Technology blog has published a comprehensive e-health budget analysis, looking at the breakdown of spending in this year’s Federal Budget on e-health initiatives. The analysis is provided by ICT analyst Richard Dixon Hughes. Highlights include:

  • One of the major cost saving measures was the abolition of the Access Card project (being managed within the Human Services portfolio) leading to an all up reduction of $1.2 billion over 5 years.
  • Previous ICT incentives for General Practice are being abolished and a new incentive payment of $6.50 per patient introduced in their place – however the net result is planned to be a saving of $110.7 million over the next 4 years.
  • Cuts to the previous e-health implementation program totalled $10.5 million over three years and were part of a basket of cuts, though it is not clear what the extent and nature of the specific reductions within the e‑Health Implementation Program have been