Sunday, August 08, 2010

Less Than Two Weeks to the Election - Are We Adequately Informed Yet?

The following appeared a day or so ago

E-health missing from Abbott plan

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 06, 2010 12:19PM

E-HEALTH supporters are disappointed the coalition has overlooked health IT as a key reform objective in its election policy.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott did not make any commitment to future e-health programs, despite his former advocacy as health minister in the Howard government.

Australian Medical Association president Andrew Pesce said the absence was "a major concern because, without e-health, we cannot make the best use of existing health care services and avoid errors, duplication and waste."

Dr Pesce has previously pointed to the potential for the national broadband network to give Australians in rural areas access to improved medical services through tele-consultations, high-quality diagnostic imaging and fast access to electronic health records.

But the AMA remains uncertain what benefits will accrue from Labor's $467 million personally-controlled e-health records scheme funded in the recent budget, as details are yet to be revealed.


The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners welcomed the coalition's commitment to GP services and infrastructure-building, but is also pursuing a broader e-health agenda.

RACGP president Chris Mitchell said governments must recognise that the greatest benefit to patients and the most effective healthcare occurs in the community setting.

In particular, GPs are seeking a shift in focus from hospitals to community care, prevention, supported teamwork, greater access to diagnostic tools and investment in e-health.

The RACGP has recently signed an agreement with Telstra to deliver web-hosted services to its membership, providing GPs with secure access to healthcare applications such as decision-support, care planning, electronic referrals and prescribing, plus online training and administrative services.

“Staying up-to-date is important," Dr Mitchell said. "This partnership will make it easy for GPs to take advantage of technology that is now available.

Using the web means doctors can access applications from anywhere; from their practices, homes, hospitals or aged care facilities.”

More here:

All I can say is that this is getting all too hard. Here are the basics of what they say.

Here is the relevant page from the ALP.

The key policy platform is this:

From July 1 this year, the Gillard Labor Government began delivering $7.3 billion in investments over the next five years to provide:

  • 1,300 new sub-acute hospital beds
  • Emergency department waiting times capped at four hours;
  • Elective surgery delivered in clinically recommended times for 95 per cent of Australians;
  • Training for 6,000 more doctors, including doubling the number of GPs trained every year;
  • Better support for nurses working in GP and primary care, aged care and mental health;
  • A national after hours GP service – with a 24 hour hotline that provides GP advice and can arrange a follow-up visit in your local community;
  • Support to upgrade around 425 GP practices and health clinics across the country – so that GPs can expand their facilities and locate more services in a single community location.
  • Support for 2,500 additional aged care beds;
  • A personally controlled electronic health record for every Australian that wants one;
  • new investments in prevention, including tough new action to tackle smoking; and
  • new investments in mental health services, with 20,000 extra young people per year to get assistance.

From the Coalition we have the following link.

As best I can tell there is no recent information on e-health there.

However ZDNet has published the following:

Coalition e-health black hole worries AMA

By Josh Taylor, on August 6th, 2010

update Australia's peak medical body, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), has expressed concern over the Coalition's seeming lack of e-health policy.

Ahead of the 21 August election day, the Coalition this week announced some of its health policies, should it win government. While the AMA welcomed various health initiatives from the party including money for general practitioners and extra hospital beds, it noted there was a distinct absence of any policy in relation to e-health.

"We also note that there is no commitment from the Coalition yet on e-health," said AMA president Dr Andrew Pesce in a statement.


In a statement, Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said that the Coalition was "absolutely" committed to e-health.

"We are committed to e-health into the future. We do strongly support a roll-out of e-health and the funding is there until 2012."

"We don't trust Labor with money; we don't trust them because they have wasted it in every other area," he said. "We will review why Labor has gone nowhere on e-health in three years and whether or not the money is being most efficiently spent."

Updated at 3:00pm, 6 August 2010: comment included from Peter Dutton.

This position was put a month a so before the election:

Peter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source

by leave—It is widely recognised and acknowledged that the introduction of a unique individual healthcare identifier is one of the important pieces of architecture in e-health in our country. The opposition understands this. We support e-health. We supported it in government. For example, the widespread computerisation of general practice was an initiative of the Howard government almost a decade ago. We support the introduction of a unique individual healthcare identifier; however, as many submissions to the Senate inquiry identified, the healthcare identifier legislation is too broad. That is why the opposition has drafted a number of sensible amendments to prevent function creep and to see that there is greater parliamentary scrutiny of the laws that will underpin the healthcare identifying service.

----- End Extract.

Joe Hockey has also spoken on this:

You can read his comments close to the end of the transcript.

At the end of the day I fear we are not all that much further ahead. At least both sides, in generality, support e-Health. The details are vague – so I suspect you decision on voting preference should be based on other issues – sadly!


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