HIC 2014: Implementation plan for PCEHR review due by year end

The Department of Health is planning to devise a strategy on implementing the recommendations of the review into the PCEHR by the end of the year, as the national eHealth system moves “out of the crawl into the walk position”, DoH CIO Paul Madden said.

Mr Madden told the Health Informatics conference (HIC) in Melbourne yesterday that the department was at the tail end of the consultation phase following the release of the review in May. DoH has hosted consultation sessions with clinicians and consumers this month, and yesterday convened another for the health informatics sector at HIC.

The department is also hosting an online survey until September 1. Mr Madden said a bug in the SurveyMonkey program, in which participants could not select multiple answers to a question, had been fixed.

“Before the end of the year we’ll be presenting a package which I'll call an overall implementation plan ... that says to implement these things, this is the approach we will take, this is how long some of these elements might take and this is the way that they might manifest themselves,” Mr Madden said.

“We need to get that so the government knows it is not as simple as we agree with [the recommendations], let's implement them. It is what are the consequences of that in terms of money, time, communication and education and community views.”

Mr Madden said the department did not want to rush the implementation and get it half right. “We want to get it completely right and I think we can do this properly and listen to the people who really count.”

Saying it was “too early to start running – we are moving out of crawl into the walk position”, Mr Madden said the department wants to encourage the private sector and third parties to begin to add value to the system. The role of the government is to build the infrastructure and provide the data, and then allow others to make that data useful, he said.

“We're not setting out to have a really flash portal,” he said. “We'd like to be the retailer of last choice. We'll provide you access to the data, but we are really looking for businesses to look at the innovation and what we can do to use that data to its fullest extent to digitise health practices.

“[T]he ability to access information from another source, whether it happens to turn up on an iPad or iPhone or PC, whatever, all of those innovations are possible because the data exists, the protocols are there.”

While the department works on the implementation strategy, it is also working on enabling the upload of pathology and radiology reports to the PCEHR. These are two of three key modules, the other being medications, that are essential to have functioning before moving to an opt-out model, according to the head of the review panel, Richard Royle.

“Much has been talked about on the opt-out recommendation, which we saw as pretty important in order to gain scale, mass and acceptability across the country,” Mr Royle said. “What has been more silent as part of that recommendation was that you don’t move to an opt-out system until you get at least one of what we saw as three core modules working in the PCEHR, they being medications, radiology and pathology.

“If you get at least one of those operating and operating well, that will lead to a level of genuine desire by clinicians to actually use the system because it is going to be of use to them, let alone for the consumers to get benefit.”

He said once one of those modules was up and running, the system could then move to opt-out. If the government agrees to opt-out, it will require a very large advertising and promotional campaign on a national scale to ensure that both the general community and healthcare providers are aware of what is coming, he said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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