Use it or lose it – PCEHR for PIP
General practices will be required to participate in the PCEHR program or become ineligible for the eHealth Practice Incentive Program (PIP) under new measures announced in yesterday's federal budget.
The incentives, which can range up to $50,000 depending on the size and needs of the practice, require practices to have secure messaging capability, site and individual PKI certificates and to provide GPs with access to a range of electronic clinical resources.
The new requirement is part of a range of measures that will change the PIP, including tighter criteria for some of the 13 PIP areas in order to save $83.5 million over four years.
A DoHA spokeswoman said the government was continuing to support doctors to develop their eHealth capacity through practice incentive payments, but now that many practices have improved their IT capability, the focus will change to supporting the PCEHR.
“Government support has helped more than 96 per cent of practices to get the IT they need for eHealth,” the spokeswoman said. “Australia's GP workforce is now the fifth most computerised in the world.
“In 2012-13 the government will invest in the over 4000 general practices who are eligible to receive up to $50,000 each through this program.
“Following consultation, revised 2012-13 Practice Incentive Program payments will make sure that now many practices have most of the IT in place, the government focuses its support on the roll-out and take up of the eHealth record.
“We've supported GPs to develop their IT systems, and now we're supporting them to deliver eHealth to their patients through adopting the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.”
The spokeswoman said GPs with non-conformant software can view a patient's PCEHR (providing the patient has given consent) via the planned PCEHR provider portal, which can be accessed via a web browser.
$2.1 million has been allocated to the Department of Human Services for 2012-2013 for the new measures, while the Department of Health and Ageing will on average lose $25 million per year for the PIP scheme, leading to a net saving to the government of $83.5 million over four years.
The savings will predominantly come from increased targets for the cervical cancer screening and diabetes initiatives and the discontinuation of the immunisation incentive scheme, money for which is being redirected to consumers through changes to the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement.
The change will link parents’ eligibility for the supplement to the vaccination status of their children at ages one, two and five years against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said he had strong objections to the changes to the broader PIP program.
“The General Practice Immunisation Incentive has ceased. This has serious public health implications,” he said.
“And GPs will only be eligible for the electronic PIP if they participate in the PCEHR. We will challenge this decision. This will be a roadblock to the system working properly.”
The Health and Ageing portfolio's budget papers state that the new requirements "will encourage general practices to safely and securely share accurate electronic patient records to enhance the quality of care provided to patients and undertake activities such as electronic prescribing and use of the PCEHR system".
"The Department will continue to consult closely with the National eHealth Transition Authority, the PIP Advisory Group, medical software developers and Medicare Australia in the development of the new requirements and to ensure that the appropriate software is available to practices with sufficient lead time to prepare for implementation."
The new measures will be introduced from February 1, 2013.
Posted in Australian eHealth