The following appeared a day or so ago.
Govt should subsidise prescribing resources
MEDICAL leaders want electronic prescribing resources for doctors to be subsidised and regularly updated as the federal government puts more emphasis on e-health initiatives.
Professor Jon Emery, professor of general practice and head of the school of primary, Aboriginal and rural health care at the University of Western Australia, said quality use of medicines was an important issue and the federal government should look at ways to make the Australian medicines handbook (AMH) freely, or at very least more cheaply, available to all GPs.
The AMH currently costs $160 for an annual online subscription.
Professor Nick Buckley, consultant clinical pharmacologist and chair of the AMH editorial advisory committee, said the cost of the AMH or the Therapeutic guidelines should be subsidised because the community and patients paid a very high price when poor prescribing decisions were made.
Professor Buckley estimated it would cost less than 10 cents per GP prescription to subsidise the AMH or the Therapeutic guidelines.
He said such a subsidy would be cost-effective in improving health and would be likely to generate net savings.
“The total budget for the two organisations providing these resources is less than the average PBS [Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme] expenditure on just one of the 717 … subsidised medicines,” Professor Buckley said.
The two experts were commenting on a study reported in Family Practice, which looked at GPs’ use of electronic information sources and computerised clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) for prescribing.(1)
It seems to me that this is really a very un-ambitious proposal. In the National E-Health Strategy in 2008 it was proposed that a modest sum should be spent ensuring all clinical practitioners have access to a service similar to the Clinical Information Access Program (CIAP) offered by NSW Health to public health employees in NSW.
The limitation in providing extended services to other groups is that the information providers retain copyright on some of the material and want to know the number of users so the correct fees can be charged.
With the HI Service and NASH we are promised that we will know who is accessing what and when they are doing that. This would be a great situation to have, with robust professional authentication, when negotiating the relevant licensing conditions with information providers.
We know the CIAP program has been especially useful to the more remote practitioners and a true nationwide extension would be not only be good clinically (CIAP has been evaluated and found to improve care) and better would be something that might bring faster adoption of the HI Service and NASH as there would be a reason for practitioners to adopt using the identifiers and credentials.
Sadly I fear this might just be too sensible to actually happen. Pity!