CHF calls for long-term funding and ePIP payments for PCEHR
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has called on the federal government to give a long-term commitment to implementing electronic health records, including incentivising general practices to contribute information to the PCEHR through the eHealth practice incentive payment (ePIP).
As part of its pre-budget submission, the CHF said it believes eHealth records and other electronic initiatives can provide an important mechanism to improve the safety of healthcare, as well as an avenue for consumers to better manage their own health.
However, it says the full value of the PCEHR will only be achieved if there is widespread adoption across the population, to ensure that there is sufficient data to make the system worthwhile to healthcare providers.
“Research into the Summary Care Record in the United Kingdom has shown that clinicians are unlikely to look for eHealth records if there is not widespread utilisation of the system, because they are unlikely to find them,” the submission states.
“Experiences of eHealth record systems in the United Kingdom and Germany also suggest that is very difficult to re-establish trust in the system if it lacks initial functionality.”
The CHF said it supports improved functionality in the PCEHR and the inclusion of other information, including access to test results, discharge summaries, shared health summaries, medicines lists, advance care plans and directives, religious, spiritual and cultural preferences, reports of adverse events and reactions, and resuscitation orders.
It also supports the inclusion of more dynamic avenues for consumer entered information to be included in the PCEHR as the system evolves. However, this will require a long-term commitment to funding the system and a way to incentivise providers to upload information.
“Currently there is only one year’s funding for the eHealth agenda with the government indicating that it would look at the outcomes of the recent review and decide what level of further investment it wanted to make in this area,” the submission states.
“CHF participated in the review and agreed with many of its recommendations, which it believes the government needs to fund, with a particular focus on ensuring the security of the system and safeguarding the privacy of the information it contains.
“Confidence about security and privacy will build consumer support for the eHealth system. This an important piece of health infrastructure which needs certainty and longer term investment to ensure the systems are fully implemented and the benefits, both for consumers and practitioners, will start to accrue.”
It recommends that specific funding be provided for:
- a rigorous security and privacy audit of the system
- an education campaign for consumers and clinicians on the change to an opt-out model
- changing the ePractice Incentive Payment (ePIP) to incentivise contribution of information to the electronic health record
- a scoping project to identify the options to encourage further take up of electronic transmission of data by specialist medical and allied health professionals and private practice.
As well as investing in eHealth, the CHF says the federal government should reverse its decisions to reduce Medicare rebates for GP visits and to freeze indexation.
“CHF has been consistent in opposing the imposition of a GP co-payment or any similar measure which effectively increases individuals’ co-payments for primary health care,” it says.
“[A] CHF survey confirmed the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data that showed people who need care are delaying visits to the GP or not getting prescriptions filled, because they cannot afford it.”
It recommends that the government work with health consumers and professionals to consider mechanisms for reducing waste in health expenditure through programs like Choosing Wisely, as well as more actively engage in international price surveillance and comparisons for devices, medicines and prostheses.
It wants the forthcoming Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) negotiations to be open and transparent, further measures to accelerate price disclosure, and any extended range of services provided by pharmacists to be subject to assessment through the MBS schedule rather than the 6CPA.
On Primary Health Networks (PHNs), it wants the government to merger the two different clinical and consumer advisory mechanisms.
“Apart from being very inefficient and difficult for PHNs to manage two agendas, it has the potential to mitigate against the development of a genuine partnership between clinicians and consumers in achieving improved health outcomes for communities,” the submission says.
It also wants action on dental health, obesity prevention, the restoration of funding cut from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health programs in last year's budget, and to re-examine the role of private health insurance.
Posted in Australian eHealth