Update on facts and figures for the PCEHR

More than 1.66 million consumers have now signed up to the PCEHR, representing about eight per cent of the total population, Department of Health representatives told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra last night.

The department also revealed that funding for the ongoing operation of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) was still being decided, with three states still to commit to their share of funding for the coming year.

DoH CIO Paul Madden said the federal government's share of funding for another year was $34 million, with the states and territories combining to provide a similar amount. It is understood that the Commonwealth's share is part of the $140 million allocated to the operation of the PCEHR in the May budget.

Mr Madden took a question about which three states had still to commit to funding on notice. He also said the total appropriation for NEHTA was for only one year, but also covered the operation of eHealth foundations such as the Healthcare Identifier Service and the National Authentication Service for Health, as well for standards.

The DoH spokeswoman total Pulse+IT today that the federal contribution for 2014-2015 was $34 million, but that “jurisdictional funding is a matter for NEHTA and the respective state and territory governments”.

“NEHTA is currently in discussion with jurisdictions in relation to these arrangements, with payments not due until next financial year,” she said.

DoH secretary Jane Halton said that in the ACT, 15 per cent of the population now has a PCEHR, and that number grew by three or four thousand each day.

The DoH spokeswoman said that as of yesterday, PCEHR figures showed that there were approximately:

  • Consumer registrations: 1,664,000
  • HPI-O registrations: 7000
  • Shared health summaries uploaded: 23,000
  • Discharge summaries uploaded: 36,000
  • Event summaries uploaded: 1800
  • Clinical views of patient records in last week: 3700

In terms of public hospitals connected to the system, DoH eHealth division first assistant secretary Linda Powell said there was a total of 265 public hospitals connected to the PCEHR, including 28 in NSW, seven in South Australia, one in the ACT, 219 in Queensland, three in Tasmania and seven in Victoria.

In Queensland, 111 hospitals are able to upload discharge summaries while the rest are able to view a record if a patient has one.

Ms Powell said it was uncertain as to when all public hospitals will be connected, as each state has a different roll-out strategy.

“NEHTA [has] been working closely with all of the state governments and the way that they have been doing the roll-out has varied according to different things that are happening in their states,” Ms Powell said.

“For example, Queensland, because they had a number of upgrades happening across the state, at the same time they were able to connect the whole state. In NSW, they have started in smaller numbers and they have been progressively rolling it out.

“I’m not sure when we’ll have all of them connected. [In] WA, for example, there is a much more staggered approach, where they will be starting in the urban areas and rolling out much more slowly.”

On the PCEHR review, which was released on May 19 and cost $196,000 in total, the government said it was working through its response at the moment.

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash said she would take a question on when the response would be released on notice, but could not make an assumption about a date.

Ms Halton said the government had responded in some way through providing funding for the ongoing operation of the PCEHR for 2014-15.

“The minister [for health] is on the record in relation to the forward commitment,” Ms Halton said. “Go to the language from the minister: there are some issues that need to be resolved, but as the minister says, the PCEHR – and what it becomes – this is an important part of the infrastructure.”

No appropriation had been made for the transition from the PCEHR to the review panel's preferred name of 'My Health Record (MyHR)' as this recommendation was still under consideration, Mr Madden said.

He also said there was no formal marketing or communication strategy for the promotion of the PCEHR.

“We continue to provide help, support and information to people who make inquiries or wishing to connect to the system,” he said. “There is a level of information and communication out there through public hospitals through the admission process, so people are made aware of the fact that they can have an eHealth record, but we don’t have any publicly espoused communication strategy at the moment.

“All of the information that has been released publicly about the eHealth system is still out there in primary practice and is available through hospitals. We haven’t embarked on a campaign of advertising or communication beyond what we have done already so far.”

PCEHR registrations by state
South Australia169,000
Western Australia147,000
ACT 57,000
Northern Territory21,000

Posted in Australian eHealth

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