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Thursday, 05 September 2013 16:38

E-health needs urgent care after election


The Consumers e-Health Alliance says the incoming government needs to address the troubled national medical information-sharing system with some urgency if any benefits are to accrue from efforts to date.

“The primary aim of any e-health system must be to improve outcomes of individual patients who choose to participate, and to also address population health improvements,” CeHA convenor Peter Brown said.

“But the Personally Controlled e-Health Record program is not yet achieving that goal, nor is it delivering the broader community and productivity benefits needed to sustain a quality healthcare service.

“We consider the key issue preventing successful implementation is the failure of the various government agencies to act together upon the clear advice given to them to create a separate oversighting entity representing all relevant community interests.”

Brown said the need for collaboration, and an independent management structure, was clearly set out in the Parliamentary “Health Online” report of 2001 and underscored in subsequent reports underpinning the agreed National e-Health Strategy in 2008.

“Many of those involved in the development process remain frustrated that the many arms of our Federated Governments, whilst having endorsed the obvious validity of this key recommendation, have not actioned it,” he said.

This has resulted in spending over $2 billion of public funding in a decade on misdirected, uncoordinated programs without any identifiable progress towards the much needed, 85% community supported, National Electronic Health Service.

“The existing siloed structure across the entire health system needs to be changed within an integrated network of services,” Brown said.

CeHA hopes momentum can be restored to the e-health program by adopting the recommended governance approach and initially keeping things simple by building on what exists and in a clinical sense is working.

It considers the basic PCEHR (Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record) system could become a foundation for a revitalised and effective patient health information-sharing service that is used and trusted by both clinicians and consumers.

“We hope to work with the new government to establish a truly independent National E-Health Governing Council that brings medicos, consumers, the local health IT industry and government agencies together,” he said.

“This council to have oversight of a new entity tasked with implementation and operational responsibilities.

“In this way, we can restart work on providing an efficient, useful, secure and economically funded health information network that delivers important, agreed and prioritised benefits for all participants.”

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