Govt stays silent on PCEHR “rescue package” report

The federal government has refused to confirm or deny a Fairfax Media report on the weekend that it plans to allocate more money in next week's federal budget to the PCEHR, saying only that it would make an eHealth announcement soon.

Fairfax claimed the government has decided to try to “save” the system and will make the announcement in the May 12 budget of a “rescue package” worth hundreds of millions over four years.

In a statement to Pulse+IT today, Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government was committed to the need for Australia to have a functioning eHealth system but refused to answer questions about ongoing funding for the PCEHR, the government's plans for NEHTA or whether there was truth to rumours that it had tapped a prominent figure in the health industry to head a new national eHealth agency.

In the statement, Ms Ley criticised the previous Labor government for what what she called a poor implementation, and said the problems with the system were not an easy overnight fix.

“Unfortunately Labor’s rush for glory has ended up with a false start costing taxpayers and doctors in the long run due to poor implementation and take up,” Ms Ley said.

She gave no indication of her government's plans, but said “we’re continuing to put the time and effort into getting the right outcome for all involved.”

Ms Ley said the government would make an announcement about eHealth "soon".

When in opposition in 2013, the Coalition announced it would do a stocktake of the PCEHR should it win government.

In November of that year, then Health Minister Peter Dutton ordered a quick-fire review of the system, which was conducted within six weeks and handed to him just before Christmas.

However, Mr Dutton sat on the review until after the 2014 budget, which allocated an extra $140 million to keep the system, and NEHTA, in operation for another year.

Despite a series of consultation events conducted by the Department of Health in August and September last year, the government has refused to release its response to the review or to the findings of the consultations.

The government has also failed to release the refresh of the 2008 national eHealth strategy by Deloitte, which was also completed in late 2013.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Terry Hannan 2015-05-05 11:32
The PCEHR is a complex problem and the "political" ball bouncing of the problem does not help. What needs to be addressed are the issues surrounding the "PCEHR model" and whether it is the suitable solution for eHealth in Australia. Existing evidence argues strongly against this model as a significant effective solution to eHealth in this country.
In addition even if we get the "eHealth modelling correct" it will take at least a decade to see any effective implementation because of the multitude on "non-PCEHR" factors. Just read Lucien Leape's "Five years after To Err is Human. What have we Learned?" Also Enrico Coera's "Guide to health informatics-3rd Edition" that has just been published.
0 # Davd Glance 2015-05-05 20:46
I agree with Terry and would like to reiterate what I said for the SMH article - the PCEHR is irredeemable and was a fundamentally flawed idea. What we need is for health data specifically related to a patient's condition, to be shareable with the patient and the patient's care team. There are a number of ways of achieving this without needing a centralised infrastructure (peer-to-peer sharing for example) or Government involvement at all.

We also don't need NEHTA or their particular talent of spending large amounts of money without listening to industry and clinician input to produce an over-architecte d and redundant system.

Clearly there are better ways of spending the nearly $200 million a year that the PCEHR is costing to keep running it.

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