Information management missing from PCEHR review

The Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) has urged the federal government to include people with skills in health information management and clinical coding in implementing the recommendations of the PCEHR review.

HIMAA CEO Richard Lawrance said his organisation was concerned about the lack of health information management expertise in plans to implement the report's recommendations. Health information managers and clinical coders are experts in managing the vast volume of data that is expected to result from better sharing of information, and are also experts in making sense of that data.

In a letter to the Department of Health regarding its current round of consultations on the review’s implementation, Mr Lawrance said that if the PCEHR was not functional as a health information management system, its impact upon the quality of care improvements expected of eHealth and in curtailing spiralling health care costs to the community will be severely impaired.

“The PCEHR review report mentions ‘information’ 235 times,” Mr Lawrance said. “It is most commonly qualified as ‘clinical’, next as ‘health’. ‘Health information professionals’ are mentioned just once in appendices, and ‘health’, ‘information’ and ‘management’ do not occur together at all, even the name of the Health Information Management Association of Australia, which is omitted from the list of 86 other contributors to the review.”

Mr Lawrance said he was concerned that the review's report was being taken as read, and consultations were focused on the practicalities of the implementation of its 38 recommendations.

“HIMAA is largely supportive of the recommendations, but collectively they fail to address the need for a longer term and systemic plan for the management of the volume of information the PCEHR will store over time, such that the relevant information is actually accessible to point of care clinical decision making, both to clinicians and their patients,” Mr Lawrance said.

“The PCEHR also needs an adequate classification system that renders it meaningful for population health management and research, and the application of its data as information for funders.”

He said that the absence of health information management as a central organising concept was even more worrying in that it was also missing from the recent Health Information Workforce (HIW) report from Health Workforce Australia.

“The HIW report places a more informatics-focused chief information officer as the ICT coordinator of a range of clinically oriented CIOs – nursing, medical, clinical,” Mr Lawrance said. “Information management expertise is completely absent from the report’s future configuration of health information at the executive level.”

“It would be disturbing if the exclusion of health information management from eHealth development represents a trend in government thinking.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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