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A billion dollars is such a nice, round figure. It is also a nice, big figure. So big in fact that it seems to have attached itself to every mention of the PCEHR despite it being difficult to find evidence that it is in fact the true cost of the system.
A recent example is an article by News Corp's veteran health reporter Sue Dunlevy following a Senate Estimates hearing, in which Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale asked a few pertinent questions about the hold up in the government's response to the Royle review into the PCEHR.
Ms Dunlevy calculated that if the PCEHR cost $1 billion to build, and there were currently about 42,000 shared health summaries on the system, then that would mean each shared health summary cost $24,000.
That sounds about right on the face of it, but that also means accepting that the $1 billion price tag is correct. There are some questions over this, despite it having become an article of faith.
In Senate Estimates, Senator Di Natale asked the Department of Health's first assistant secretary for eHealth, Linda Powell, how much both governments had invested in the system so far.
“It depends on what you count and when you want to count it from, Senator,” Ms Powell replied, rather mysteriously.