Dutton “committed” to electronic health record

Health Minister Peter Dutton has told the Standing Council on Health (SCoH) meeting of state and territory health ministers that the federal government is “committed” to an electronic health record and “will be working with the states and territories to implement it properly”.

The statement – issued as part of an official communique from the SCoH on Friday – is the clearest indication yet that while the government may not keep the PCEHR in its present form, it does not plan to cancel the $700 million project.

According to the communique, Mr Dutton told the meeting that there were “a number of concerns identified” in the report compiled by the Royle review into the system and handed to Mr Dutton before Christmas last year.

Both Mr Dutton's office and the Department of Health have refused to release a copy of the report.

Mr Dutton told the meeting that the concerns included clinician engagement, and that the government “is working through the issues”.

The communique states that all health ministers “supported the concept of the PCEHR but agreed that there was work to be done on making this a much better system that is properly coordinated and really works”.

Funding for the operation of the system runs out on June 30. DoH figures show that the national infrastructure partner, Accenture, was paid $87.7 million for operational services for the PCEHR between June 26, 2012 and June 30, 2014.

Accenture was also paid $47.8 million in 2011 to build the system in association with Oracle and Orion Health, which received $11 million and $17.8 million respectively.

A DoH spokeswoman said Accenture had also done additional work such as designing the Child eHealth Record and the standalone assisted registration tool (ART), bringing the total value of the contract to $154.3m.

Additional funding from the states through NEHTA and commonwealth funding for eHealth uptake activity through Medicare Locals is estimated to have brought the total cost of the project to $1 billion.

The health ministers also agreed to work together to improve the consistency of reporting of hospital in- and outpatient service capacity, including the ability to capture data on services such as hospital in the home, same-day dialysis and chemotherapy chairs, capacity contracted from the private sector and ambulatory care services.

Increased sharing of information and data between jurisdictions was also identified as a way to improve integrated care.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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