Dutton fails to provide clarity on PCEHR future

Health Minister Peter Dutton has committed to rolling out a “practical” eHealth record and to supporting primary care but has provided no detail on how this is to be achieved.

In a speech to the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney today, Mr Dutton said the government was committed to “re-building general practice” and to providing greater support to Australia's primary care network.

This would be done by concentrating “not just on remuneration, but on scope of practice and advanced payment models, including greater support from the private insurers,” he said.

“It means rolling out an e-health record with practical application and a genuine desire to work with and not against doctors.”

A spokesman for Mr Dutton did not respond to questions about when a report on the Royle review into the PCEHR would be released.

Pulse+IT, along with a number of other news organisations, has lodged a Freedom of Information request for the release of the report, which was handed to Mr Dutton four months ago.

The Department of Health, which also has a copy of the report, has refused our FOI on the grounds it is not in the public interest. Pulse+IT has appealed this decision on the grounds that access to the document would inform debate on a matter of public importance and promote effective oversight of public expenditure.

Mr Dutton did not mention the future of Medicare Locals, which are also under review. He said the government was committed to “providing greater support to our primary care network, and we will do that not just through funding, but through a greater concentration of our doctors' efforts on those with the most need”.

“The solution in part is about spending money more efficiently and keeping patients treated at a primary care level wherever clinically appropriate to do so, but it is a much broader discussion than that.

“Central to our task will be developing better models of caring for patients, particularly in community settings, and this can only be achieved through research and evaluation into different models currently developing. This includes the incredibly important issue of palliative care outside of the tertiary setting.

“I want to see those numbers grow; and I particularly want to see expansion in our research efforts in areas of preventive health, early intervention and clinical practice.

“There are huge opportunities for research to boost illness prevention and promote early intervention, reducing health costs while improving health outcomes.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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