Budget 2015: money for PCEHR reboot is to last four years
The $485 million that will be allocated to rebooting the PCEHR in tomorrow's federal budget will be spread over four years, meaning funding levels are on par with previous years.
Federal health minister Sussan Ley announced yesterday that the government was committed to the system, which is set to be renamed the myHealth record, but intended to swap over to an opt-out model as recommended by the Royle review in 2013.
The government will also wind up the operations of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and transfer its role – and the operation of the PCEHR itself – to a new Australian Commission on eHealth (ACeH).
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said ACeH will be established as a statutory authority in the form of a corporate Commonwealth entity and will operate under similar accountabilities as other Commonwealth agencies, meaning it will subject to Freedom of Information (FOI) rules. A chair for the new agency has not yet been selected or appointed, she said.
The spokeswoman said the new opt-out model will be trialled in at least two places, the location and size of which are also undecided.
“In an opt-out trial the people involved in the trial will have an eHealth record created for them unless they opt out of the system,” the spokeswoman said.
“The local population would be advised in advance how the system worked, the benefits and the process to opt out if that’s their choice. After this period, a record would be created for everyone that hadn't opted out.”
She said a trial was necessary as it was important that the government trial the implementation of opt-out to ensure public confidence in the system is maintained.
“[It] will also assist in evaluating the effectiveness of associated public awareness and information dissemination and education and training for healthcare providers.”
A decision is yet to be made about who will provide the training and education services, she said.
Shadow health minister Catherine King said Labor would look at the results of any trial on changing the system from opt-in to opt-out, but wanted the government to get on with supporting the system almost 18 months after receiving the Royle review.
“Opting out of eHealth was the recommendation of the review on eHealth the government received over 500 days ago, and is only acting on now,” Ms King said.
“The expert review found that eHealth records were a piece of critical national infrastructure. The review found eHealth could save the health system $7 billion a year through fewer diagnoses, treatment and prescription errors, and in the process avoid thousands of unnecessary hospital admissions.
“Labor will look at the results of any trials on changing the system from opt in to opt out, but what is most needed now is a government, and a minister prepared to abandon politically driven attacks on eHealth and wholeheartedly get behind the scheme.”
RACGP president Frank Jones said the college supported an integrated eHealth system and had long argued for one, but it needed to see more detail on the current proposals.
“The RACGP will be closely examining the federal government’s myHealth Record announcement and is keen to see detail around where the $485 million will be allocated and whether training for GPs to learn the new system will be provided,” Dr Jones said.
“It will be critical to review the fine detail as many medico-legal issues are as yet unresolved.”
He said the RACGP supports the trial of an opt-out system so that future policy can be based on evidence.
“The trial must be led by GPs and other clinicians, not bureaucrats based in Canberra,” he said.
The RACGP also supports replacing NEHTA with a new Australian Commission for eHealth. “However, the new commission must have appropriate governance and key health sector stakeholder representation, including the RACGP,” he said.
“Under the current arrangement, the NEHTA only represents and responds to the state and territory governments.”
A spokesperson for the AMA said it was also waiting for more detail on the proposals before commenting.
A spokesperson for NEHTA declined to comment.
Posted in Australian eHealth