Baird govt pledges AU$300m for e-health if re-elected

The NSW Liberal government has pledged to spend AU$300 million on the state's e-health initiatives over the next four years if it is re-elected for another term on Saturday's election.

New South Wales Minister for Health Jillian Skinner has said that the state's Liberal government will invest AU$300 million over the next four years on electronic health initiatives if it is re-elected for another term in the polls on Saturday.

Skinner announced the pledge on Thursday, saying that a re-elected Baird government would continue to modernise the state's health system through further e-health investments.

"To deliver an efficient, integrated health system, we must adopt the latest technologies," said Skinner. "For patients, this means safer, higher-quality, more efficient, and better coordinated health care. For staff, this means greater productivity and contemporary resources."

Skinner said that if re-elected, the state Liberal government would continue funding existing programs being rolled out, and commit new funding to a range of initiatives. This includes AU$48 million to expand the Rural eHealth Program, which provides a mix of infrastructure and clinical programs that support the rollout of eHealth across rural and remote areas.

It will also invest AU$4 million to roll out an additional 100 telehealth sites, adding to the 1,000 sites already in operation across rural and regional areas, and AU$4.9 million to roll out HealtheNet to a further 11 Local Health Districts.

Additionally, Skinner said the government would pump AU$3.5 million into enhancements in the Hospital in the Home provision in rural areas through new eHealth initiatives, and develop a new NSW Health eHealth Strategic Plan: Enabling eHealth 2021 to provide a "clear direction for future IT investment and e-health programs".

Skinner outlined the e-health programs that had been rolled out under the Baird government's first term, including the HealtheNet program, which connects hospitals, GPs, and community health providers. Other programs include the Electronic Medications Management system, and the Electronic Medical Records system.

"The days of paper records being lugged around and physically transferred from treating doctor to doctor will soon be behind us," said Skinner. "We are upgrading our Electronic Medical Records system by adding voice-recognition capacity.

"Every day in NSW, more than 23,000 clinicians log on to 250,000 electronic records and order 140,000 tests, making it Australia's largest electronic records system," she said. "I am excited about the potential for e-health to provide seamless linkages between all parts of the health system."

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