The IT solutions behind Australia’s and New Zealand’s COVID-19 responses have come in for some questioning over the 18 months of the pandemic, and no one seems to agree on whether they have proven to be effective or not, whether it be mobile phone proximity apps like Australia’s COVIDsafe (general consensus: dud) or QR code check-in systems (thumbs up).
They all do appear to be quite expensive though, which is nothing new, and as always when there are copious amounts of public money on offer, hands immediately reach out. This has never been more true than in the roll-out of online booking, inventory management, and vaccination registration systems on a jurisdictional and national scale.
Much has been said over the last 18 months about how the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a revolution in digital health adoption, but there’s a chance these predictions might turn out to be a bit overhyped, particularly when it comes to telehealth (or telephone health as it probably should be named for now).
What has become more obvious as the pandemic has drawn out is the benefit of automation when it comes to health service efficiency, especially in under-the-radar areas like practice management system interoperability, which may well trigger longer term benefits than the tech du jour.
Problems appear to be continuing to beset Far North Queensland’s Regional eHealth Project (ReHP), a long-winded drama first touted in 2012 which has officially come to an end at a cost of $34.5 million (at least according to the state’s very useful Digital Projects Dashboard).
Funding was originally obtained in 2012 from a federal government hospital investment grant, although the project itself only really kicked off in 2015, with the aim of building a primary and community care-focused eHealth solution for about 58 clinics and small hospitals in the Cairns, Cape York and Torres Strait regions.