We must admit to being momentarily gobsmacked when we received a joint press release from the NSW Treasurer and Minister for Health last Saturday proclaiming that the state was spending $536 million on eHealth over the next eight years, with a portion of the money starting to flow this year. We double-checked the figures on Monday morning just to be sure there was no double counting, but right it was.
When added to the approximately $400 million shelled out by the Coalition since 2011, we're looking at close to a billion dollars, and that's just from the current government. Granted, that money is spread over 16 years, but it's still a massive number, even among the eye-popping overall annual budget for NSW Health of $23 billion.
Remember 2012? No, neither do I, but this time five years ago the biggest deal in eHealth was the imminent launch of a fab new national IT project that heralded the dawn of a new age in healthcare. This system would link health professionals together, improve the flow of information throughout the entire health system, save the government eleventy billion dollars in needlessly duplicated lab tests, and better yet, allow patients to see their own health information for the very first time.
And it was just four years ago that the minister for health at the time, Tanya Plibersek, fronted up at the HIC conference and announced a massive $8 million grant to NEHTA to get pathology and diagnostic imaging onto the system. This was greeted as big news by Pulse+IT and by everyone else. Test results were going to be the deal breaker, the game changer, the thing that would put the PC in the PCEHR.