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H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

AMA President Talks e-Health - What a Good Thing!

The president of the Australian Medical Association spoke at the National Press Club Today.

The full transcript is found here:


AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce: Speech to National Press Club

21 July 2009 - 1:30pm

Making Health Reform Real

The speech covered a wide range of issues, including:

  • GP Week
  • AMA Advocacy
  • The Big Issues
    • Governance
    • Workforce
    • Rural health
    • e-health
  • 2 Big Areas of Planned AMA Leadership
  • Long Term Care (LTC) Scheme
  • Professional responsibility
  • Conclusion

Clearly here I want to focus on the e-Health comments.

The comments on e-Health were as follows:

“While all Australians will benefit from e-health initiatives, rural Australia is where new and innovative technology and information systems will pay off big time.

Until we see dramatic improvements in rural health workforce attraction and retention, patients’ access to health services can be improved through telemedicine.

E-health infrastructure in rural Australia must be a priority for all governments.

More generally on e-health, the AMA strongly supports moves to making electronic health records a reality.

Electronic health records will bring wide-ranging benefits to the Australian community, particularly for patient safety and quality health outcomes.

We are looking at the proposals for a person-controlled electronic health record very closely.

I believe that patients should have control over who has access to their information.

We must ensure, however, that this control does not inadvertently cause limitations to access – especially in the case of emergency physicians, for instance.

Rigorous privacy safeguards must be in place.

There is a lot happening in the ehealth sector at the moment – through COAG, NEHTA, and the NHHRC.

But fundamentally this is an issue on which governments must show leadership to ensure progress.

The AMA will be an active commentator and adviser on developments in e-health.

I’d like to turn now to a couple of important areas where the AMA intends to lead community and political debate.”


This is a good start indeed for what I believe is the first NPC appearance. Clear recognition of the need for leadership was a really important point to make as well as the preparedness to be involved in discussions etc.

Recognition of the importance of telemedicine – given the size of Australia – was also a well made point!

I look forward to more, in-depth comments, as time goes on.


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