National eHealth strategy review to be considered this year

Federal, state and territory health ministers will later this year examine a review of the 2008 national eHealth strategy, which is currently being conducted by Deloitte.

Linda Powell, first assistant secretary for eHealth policy, change and adoption with the Department of Health, told an industry forum recently that the department had contracted Deloitte to conduct the review at the half-way point of the strategy's 10-year roadmap.

The 2008 eHealth strategy, which was written by Deloitte and was agreed to by all governments, set out a roadmap to embed eHealth within the healthcare system.

Ms Powell said the “refresh” of that strategy had been requested by the health ministers at the end of 2011.

Ms Powell told the forum that the 2008 strategy underpinned all of the work that has been done to develop eHealth foundations over the last five years, including the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service, the National Authentication Service for Health (NASH), the clinical terminology service, the National Health Services Directory (NHSD) and the National Product Catalogue (NPC), as well as standards and specifications for conformance, compliance and accreditation, secure messaging and interoperability.

The 2008 strategy also recommended the creation of individual electronic health records (IEHRs), which later became the basis for the personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) system. A DoH spokesperson told Pulse+IT that as at midnight on Sunday, October 13, 978,195 people had registered for a PCEHR.

“Five years on [from the 2008 strategy], we have come a very long way,” Ms Powell said. “We've got eHealth foundations … we've got connectivity, secure messaging interoperability happening very well in some places and a bit in others. We have a much more patient-centred approach to information sharing and we have the PCEHR, which is going to drive a lot of the directions that we go in.

“We've got NEHTA in place, we've got NASH, we've got the PCEHR – all of these things are happening. The NHSD, clinical terminology reference sets, the NPC – they are all in place. Obviously as part of the refresh, it is asking how well did that go and is that the sort of thing we want to build upon.”

Ms Powell said the review had been contracted to Deloitte, which has undertaken consultations with the sector and peak bodies.

“That has all been pulled together into a strategy that ministers will be considering later this year,” she said. “It will spell out a confirmation of a whole range of things we have been doing and set some new visions and ways forward potentially.”

She said the review would look at some of the benefits that have eventuated, including medications management, care planning and coordination, and achieving the eHealth foundations recommended in the 2008 strategy.

“It will also look at [whether] we need to refresh some of the governance arrangements,” she said. “That has been one of the big things we have been working on. We need – and we have – commitment and collaboration between governments, the sector, industry and providers, so we will look at how well that has gone and what do we need to have in terms of infrastructure and systems and processes going forward.”

It will also look at adoption and meaningful use, she said. “[How] do we ensure that doctors and the other healthcare providers actually take up and use in a meaningful way the personally controlled electronic health record.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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