As state and territory governments meet to talk health reform at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra today, Google said it had "no time frame" for the deployment of Google Health in Australia, despite its CEO formerly saying he hoped to have the service available in Australia by late 2008.
Google Health allows users to volunteer their health records either manually or by logging into their accounts at partnered health service providers. The service is only available in the US.
On 18 March 2008, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was in Sydney talking up e-health. At the time, he acknowledged tough regulatory hurdles would need to be overcome first, but said he hoped to bring the Google Health service to Australia by the end of that year.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt (right) talks up health plans in 2008
(Credit: Builder AU)
"Because of the way health regulations work, we have to roll out Google Health on a per country basis. And so we would hope to bring it to here later this year, subject to us meeting regulatory requirements," Schmidt said in March 2008. The service is yet to be deployed in Australia.
ZDNet.com.au understands that since Schmidt announced he had hoped to have the service available locally by the end of 2008, no talks with government officials have taken place.
"We're always looking to extend our products and services to users worldwide, and we hope to continue to expand Google Health to other countries and languages in the future," Google Australia said in a statement to ZDNet.com.au.
"Because there are very different rules and regulations concerning the ways personal health data and medical records are stored in countries outside the US, this will not be a hasty process. We have no time frame to share right now for seeing Google Health in Australia."
In Australia, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is the government authority responsible for e-health record deployment in Australia. Currently, COAG has only agreed for the authority to deploy a 16-digit healthcare identifier number to most Australians.
In a statement from the health minister's office last week, all that was said was that it was "expected that e-health will be discussed at the COAG meeting on 19 April". Asked if that encompassed the business case for an electronic health record for all Australians, the minister's office declined to comment.
NEHTA has had the business case for rolling out an individual electronic health record (IEHR) for some time now, but it has been passed over for consideration in COAG meetings a number of times.
"We don't know what is going to be discussed at COAG but we can confirm that information has been given to Health to contribute to a business case for an IEHR," a statement from NEHTA said last week.
Earlier this month the Victorian Government called for an updated business case for the roll-out of a national IEHR to be approved at the COAG meeting today.