Tasmania pulled off a bit of a stunner this week with the release of its digital health strategy a day or so before the state budget, announcing the first tranche in what is a substantial investment for the state in digital health. $475 million over 10 years is a lot considering Tassie’s small population and its historic underspend on healthcare, and while money has certainly been shovelled into hospital infrastructure over the years – including $689m in Royal Hobart’s K-Block – digital health has never had much of a look in.
There have been some notable digital health initiatives – the country’s first prescription monitoring system, the Tasmanian medicines formulary and controlled drug management system, a statewide health directory, and the first real go at a statewide eReferrals system that is up and running and scoring runs. (A lot of this is with the help and initiative of Hobart software and data specialist HealthCare Software.) All of the state’s GPs use either Best Practice or MedicalDirector, the two pathology providers accept eOrders, and telehealth has been well established in the private sector for over 15 years.
No matter which party wins tomorrow’s Australian federal election or who holds the balance of power, there are three generation-defining issues facing the country: climate change, debt and healthcare. All three rank the highest in voters’ concerns, and detailed answers to all three have been tacitly avoided by the two major parties during this election campaign.
When it comes to health – whether that is primary care, hospital care, aged care, disability care or preventative health – the problems are stark and the answers are not easy, but they need to be confronted. The Coalition boasts of its record funding for Medicare and its response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, while the ALP conjures up urgent care clinics, voluntary patient enrolment and ensuring our elderly are properly fed. The Greens want to add dental care to the mix, and even though there is a very noticeable number of trained doctors standing for parliament, most are running on platforms concerned with climate change or political integrity rather than fixing the health system.
It was a very obscure little link on the Australian government’s AusTender website that first alerted technology news site ITnews and then Pulse+IT last week to the long-awaited announcement of the awarding of the JP2060 Phase 4 eHealth system replacement for the Australian Defence Force to Leidos Australia. The contract was costed at a very precise three hundred and twenty-nine million, six hundred and fifty-two thousand, six hundred and forty-three dollars and eighty cents, ($329,652,643.80), although Leidos this week in its PR said priced it at $299 million. According to ITnews the contract was signed last December, although there is no word on why it was not publicly announced at the time and was only revealed in April.