Opinion: the eHealth world moves on

This story first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

As a new government starts to exert control of the Australian eHealth system, it is timely to look back on the last three years to consider how many of the building blocks of eHealth have fared. Secure message delivery is one success, but there are precious few others. Perhaps it is time to take a more pragmatic approach.

I haven’t written for Pulse+IT for a couple of years, as I've been spending my time in the obscurity of industry after serving time as president of the MSIA for two years. Since that time, some things have changed and some things have remained the same.

In an article from 2010, I wrote :“The (recent) budget initiative for Personally Controlled Electronic Healthcare Records (PCEHR) has two years to demonstrate benefits of PCEHR, but there is a longer time table to deliver the actual building blocks that will underpin the initiative”.

Since then, the PCEHR has come and politicians have gone. Many of the top public servants in DoHA, Medicare Australia and NEHTA have changed as well. “Cash for comment” commentators have gone. There have been high profile doctors walking away from the cause despite being willingly on board for many years. The marketing spin of 'how great eHealth will be' changed to 'how great it would be if only you were registered for a PCEHR'.

There has been taxpayers’ money plastered on to buses, eHealth travelling road shows, Medicare Locals funded to drive change in markets worth less than what their allocated funding is and squadrons of recruiters working hospitals over, bailing up would-be beneficiaries of health information available anywhere – anytime.

It seems that hanging onto the dream of a centralised repository is vanishing from the memory. One feels that we maybe waking from a fitful dream, waking to the world that is moving on regardless of the ambitions of dreamers.

NEHTA was established under Tony Abbott’s reign as health minister many years ago, but it seems that many no longer see NEHTA’s relevance. Countless consultants paid well and well-travelled are now telling us what we should have done. Companies that have cashed in on the largess of the taxpayers' purse have disappeared from our radars or apparently lost interest.

To read the full story, click here for the October 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Author details

Dr Geoffrey Sayer
BSc(Psychol), MCH, PhD
Head of Operations, HealthLink
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Geoff Sayer is head of operations for HealthLink. For over 12 years, he has occupied senior management positions in medical software companies in Australia and New Zealand. He is a past president of the MSIA and has 22 years' experience working as an epidemiologist.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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