HIC2015: PCEHR not perfect but in for the long haul – Ley
The national PCEHR – soon to be renamed the My Health Record – does not need to be perfect right now but it does need to become functional, practical and beneficial, according to federal Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Ms Ley told the Health Informatics Conference (HIC 2015) in Brisbane today that the PCEHR will not deliver its full benefits – including mooted savings of $2.5 billion per year within a decade – for some years even with better take-up by patients and clinicians, as envisioned under the proposed move to an opt-out system.
“We need to acknowledge that the benefits will flow sometime after we have broad use by patients and providers,” Ms Ley said.
“We need to be honest about the path ahead. My Health Record won’t deliver its full benefits for some years. It will take time, even with a better take-up rate by patients and clinicians, to build up the clinical data held in each person’s record.”
While the system has its problems and uptake has been poor due to a combination of complexity and poor communication, it does not need to be perfect right now, she said.
“In fact innovation and consumer choice will ensure that what we think consumers want now will be superseded very quickly, not to mention changes that will occur in clinical practice and service delivery over the next decade.
“What we need is for My Health Record to be functional, practical and beneficial. Let’s get some experience before we build longer term plans.”
Ms Ley said she believed it would be consumers who would drive the uptake of digital technologies and digital usage in in healthcare, and it was important for providers, developers and governments to recognise this.
“What government can do is empower and facilitate consumer-led change,” she said. “This needs to be seen as a consumer health system, and not just an IT system.
“Now is the time to make a determined and collective effort to make the digital world an accepted and widely used part of our health environment.”
The government plans to run trials starting in April next of opt-out models in four different sites, which Ms Ley said she hoped to announce shortly.
It also plans to take steps to raise awareness and provide access to education and training materials for doctors and other healthcare providers “so that they are able to reach a level where they can confidently use the system for their patients”, she said.
“We will also give them a bit of encouragement. The eligibility requirements for the Practice Incentives Program for GPs are being reviewed, and changes will require doctors to actually use the system to continue receiving the incentives, and not just have access to it.
“They may, for example, be required to upload shared health summaries for a proportion of their patients, and we will be consulting with peak bodies on these changes.”
In terms of the new Primary Health Networks (PHNs), Ms Ley said the government would not be prescriptive but would like to see real health benefits emerging from the use of eHealth, which is one of the six key planks of PHNs.
"[The PHNs'] framework of operations is that they need to report to government about how in their various areas of operation they are helping improve health outcomes,” she said.
“We have given them key tasks and eHealth is one of them. Ultimately though, what they will be doing is saying health has been improved in our population in this way by this much, and what government should be doing is not micromanaging a contract but giving them the resources and the ability to get on with it, and I'd like to see them being paid on that outcome.
“Yes, we've said use eHealth … it won't be perfect but use what is there. Remember they are very well resourced – there is $900 million over three years for the networks across Australia – so we look forward to some good ideas from them.”
Posted in Australian eHealth