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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Not-so-Special e-Health Budget Special

It is fair to say it has been a bad budget for e-Health in Australia at the Federal Level.

The National e-Health Implementation Expenditure has essentially been halved from the 2006/7 financial year to the 2007/8 year.

According to the Departmental Papers the plan is as follows:

Progressing the e-Health Agenda

In 2007-08, the Government, through the Department, will continue to work with all states and territories, health professional groups and consumers, to address those aspects of e-Health which require national leadership and coordination. The Government will continue to invest in key elements of e-Health infrastructure where a common, national approach is required. The Department will specifically oversee the development of national standards to ensure compatibility of e-Health systems across the health network.

Program 10.2: e-Health Implementation

The e-Health Implementation program funds a range of activities aimed at delivering e-Health infrastructure where a common, national approach is required. This is achieved through encouraging the development of national standards to ensure compatibility of e-Health systems across the health sector. The contribution to this outcome is measured by the uptake of e-Health initiatives.

Program 10.2: e-Health Implementation

Appropriation Bill 1

$,000

2006/7 2007/8

Budgeted 78,972 40,041

Actual 78,972 40,041

It is useful to compare this with what was said last year( 2006/7).

Leadership in eHealth

In 2006-07, the Department will focus on supporting the development of the electronic clinical communication’s architecture, individual health identifier and provider index, to enable a national electronic health record, which will contain a summary of important health information for use by both health care providers and consumers. The Department continues work in collaboration with all States and Territories on the e-Health strategy, and with the National E-Health Transition Authority on standards and infrastructure.

Program 10.2: e-Health Implementation

The Broadband for Health Program provides funding to health care providers for connection to high speed broadband. The program’s success is measured by the number of community pharmacies, general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services who have connected to a broadband service that qualifies under the Broadband for Health Program.

Program 10.2: e-Health Implementation

Appropriation Bill 1

$,000

2005/6 2006/7

Budgeted 53,670 56,768

Actual 53,670 56,768

The most interesting changes from last year are:

1. We now have no mention of national e-health strategy

2. The concept of an national electronic health record has gone from the papers

3. The proposed funding has been essentially halved.

4. Broadband for Health seems also to have vanished.

For context the total Commonwealth Health spend is 42,964M, so the e-health spend is less than 0.001% of the total!

Note that neither HealthConnect or NEHTA are not mentioned as being funded in either sets of papers – so I have no idea where the NEHTA money as well as money being spent in Tasmania, SA and the NT actually comes from. Certainly it seems HealthConnect is dead!

The other implication of all this is that should the Australian Health Information Council come up with a useful e-health strategy it would be be the 2008/9 budget before it would get funded - barring a real miracle and Health Ministerial change of mind.

I think it is pretty clear the Commonwealth Government simply does not get it! If anyone can spot any other e-health investments in the papers please let me know

A sad day.

David.

2 comments:

Aus HIT Man said...

Peter Williams from NSW Health explains COAG Funding
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David

With respect to NEHTA , I am not sure how it works at the Australian Government level but in NSW funding for the COAG sponsored initiatives (which account for 80-90% of NEHTA's current costs) come out of a separate pool of funds made available from Treasury as part of the states contribution to the overall COAG program rather than being drawn from NSW Health's core ICT budget.

Peter.
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Thanks Peter

David.

Anonymous said...

From CHIK Services:
Pharmacies and Aged Care catch budget breeze. Australia's 2007 Federal Budget was released this week and while Health ICT kept a low profile, a few items with implications for ICT made it through including:
+ Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) Online - software support. Installation of PBS Online from 16 November 2006 will attract incentive payments of up to $2000 to software vendors in addition to new incentives to pharmacies to process prescriptions via PBS Online. Funded to $17.9million over 4 years
+ 4th Community Pharmacy Agreement - to support improvements in community pharmacy business practices and systems. Funded to $24.4 million over 4 years
+ Aged Care Funding Instrument implementation - implications for aged care software providers with this new funding tool replacing the current Resident Classification Scheme from 20 March 2008. Funded to $393.5 million over 4 years
+ Assistive Technology in Community Care - aims to increase availability of ‘assistive technology' to support the independence of frail elderly to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Aim is to a) establish industry body to promote the use of such technology and negotiate volume discounts and 2) to establish a grants program from 2008-9 ($15.3million over 3 years) to fund innovation in assistive technology. Funded to $21.4million over 4 years.