Australian ehealth implementation is progressing at a dynamic rate, towards the implementation of the personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) (PCEHR) scheduled to go live in June 2012. The Australian government has identified and confirmed its commitment to ehealth as a key part of its strategy to transform the delivery of healthcare in Australia.
The business needs of the Australian healthcare system are:
• Chronic disease management: Investments to the tune of A$872 million has been made for preventive health programs targeted at schools, workplaces, and local communities, and the National Preventive Health Agency has been created. Super GP Clinics also bring together GPs, nurses, specialists, and allied health professionals to provide integrated care for chronic diseases at a single point of care.
• Healthcare funds maximization: To ensure future sustainability, the government has been tapping private insurance funds to supplement the expenditure on healthcare by the public system. Recent measures by the Federal Government to take majority funding responsibility of the public hospitals, GP clinics, and primary healthcare, as well as the introduction of activity-based funding at the local hospital network level, are both positive steps towards the maximisation of healthcare funds.
• National healthcare standards: The health infrastructure and availability of medical personnel in the rural and underserved regions is still vastly different from the urban counterparts. There have been initiatives to generate effective national standards, and transparent reporting system.
These business trends require a technological strategy that will help Australia achieve better chronic disease management by focusing on the individual, improve financial outcomes by avoiding overlap of resources, and create a universal healthcare system across the country that can be evaluated and improved on constantly. Health record digitization is the foundation on which these can be based. The Australian Government has identified and confirmed its commitment to ehealth as a key part of its strategy to transform the delivery of healthcare in Australia.
The Australian health industry and government agencies involved in its delivery, now need to focus on ensuring that the very significant investments that have been made so far to build the foundation, can start to deliver greater efficiencies, as well as productivity improvements that will ultimately reduce the cost of healthcare delivery in Australia.
In the wake of citizen-centric focus, there is a need for governments to justify to its citizens the investments they make in all areas, including healthcare. There has been expressed scepticism about the benefits of the ehealth implementations from several angles in Australia. To be able to answer these sceptics, the government needs to use analytics to evaluate and justify the costs that they are incurring, and dynamically update its compliance regulations regarding security, privacy and access, as the PCEHR is implemented to its full potential.