$50m extra for PCEHR implementation

The federal government has allocated an extra $50 million over two years to assist Medicare Locals to help GPs use the eHealth records system.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the funding was part of a package to support doctors to help roll out the new system.

The extra funds come on the back of a change to the eHealth Practice Incentive Program (PIP) announced in last week's federal budget, which will now require GPs to participate in the PCEHR system to become eligible.

The government has also released more details on how the changes to the PIP will work. In a statement, Ms Plibersek said that from February 2013, up to $50,000 will be available to each practice that shows it has a number of capabilities.

These include:

  • secure messaging
  • integrating healthcare identifiers into electronic practice records
  • using data records and clinical coding of diagnoses
  • the capability to upload Shared Health Summaries and Event Summaries using compliant eHealth record software
  • electronic transfer of prescriptions to a prescription exchange service.

She said further consultation with professional associations will occur in the coming weeks about how the criteria will apply in practice.

She said the funding for Medicare Locals will enable them to provide practical training to practices and other healthcare providers and to drive awareness and consumer literacy of the potential of eHealth records at a regional level.

The Australian Medicare Local Alliance (AML Alliance), which was recently established to represent Medicare Locals, welcomed the extra money.

Its new chair, Arn Sprogis, said the funding was a good start to a new era for Medicare Locals.

“This investment over the next two years will significantly shift the momentum for developing the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) program for patients and general practices,” Dr Sprogis said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) said the $50m for Medicare Locals is part of a "comprehensive investment to assist the rollout of eHealth records".

"The Department of Health and Ageing is currently in discussions with the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) and Medicare Locals on how they can best support general practitioners and other health professionals in this," the spokeswoman said.

The AGPN is currently transitioning into the AML Alliance. It has previously called for extra funding through Medicare Locals to support the implementation of the PCEHR.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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