Despite these comments in the Budget Papers (p157)
“Improved Clinical Practice and Decision-Making Through e-Health
The Australian Government’s e-Health agenda aims to support improved safety and quality outcomes, and better clinical and administrative decision-making. The Australian Government will provide national leadership in e-Health, in demonstrating to the Australian community the health care safety and quality benefits of e-Health, and developing measures to ensure the necessary privacy of health information.
In 2008-09, the Australian Government, through the Department, will work with the states and territories, professional groups and consumers, to address the aspects of e-Health requiring national leadership and coordination. This includes the development of a national e-Health strategy.
The Department will specifically oversee the development of national standards to enable compatibility of e-Health systems across the national health network and ensure these standards align with national e-Health policy. The Department is working to ensure health systems are interoperable, and can safely and securely exchange electronic health information between health professionals with patients’ permission. The Government will consult with medical groups, the software industry, other professions and the community to ensure the needs of all are taken into account and the benefits of e-Health are communicated.
The challenges facing this work relate to the high-level of complexity and pace of technology development in e-Health, and the willingness of the health sector to embrace it. The Department will manage this challenge through effective consultation strategies, and the ongoing involvement of appropriate stakeholders.
Funding for this major activity is sourced from Program 10.2 – e-Health Implementation”
Additionally the papers say.
“Program 10.2 – e-Health Implementation
The e-Health Implementation Program funds a range of activities aimed at improving health outcomes through the use of technology to promote a more integrated and coordinated approach to health care. 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”
There are two main areas of activity cited
1. Key stakeholders use electronic clinical communications to support quality and safety in health care.
2.Australian Government investment in the National E-Health Transition Authority contributes to the development of nationally consistent e-Health standards and basic infrastructure
The outcomes are hoped to be:
1. Increased use of electronic communications by service providers for electronic prescribing, secure electronic messaging and the components of shared health records.
2. Timely input to National E-Health Transition Authority programs and ensure work is delivered within agreed timeframes.
However the actual figures are as follows.
Program 10.2: e-Health Implementation
Subtotal for Program 10.2
2008-9 $60,630 million
2007-8 $64,689 million
So we see a $4 million or so cut for next year.
A bit sad I must say. So much for taking any real notice of the Health Reform Commission view of the importance of e-Health.
There also appears to be another cut to e-Health here:
Responsible Economic Management - Practice Incentives Program - new e-Health incentive payment for General Practitioners
There seems to be almost $110 million dollars cut from this program over the forward estimates. This is in the form of changes to the incentives for the use of EHR's and Decision Support. Additionally some vaccination incentives have been reduced.
This will not amuse the GPs I am sure!