E-health records on track: government

Summary:The Department of Health and Ageing and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) have rejected claims that NEHTA has mismanaged the national e-health record implementation.

The Department of Health and Ageing and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) have rejected claims that NEHTA has mismanaged the national e-health record implementation.

Responding to criticism levelled at the government-owned company by the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) that NEHTA staff are not qualified, NEHTA CEO Peter Flemming said that his staff are "very skilled and dedicated", with some being the "world's leading experts in their field".

The MSIA had suggested that specifications around health identifiers would not correct health records when a new identifier was issued to a patient. Flemming denied this, saying that Medicare Australia has a system in place to correct problems with multiple identifiers being used for the one person.

"There is a small possibility that something may be keyed in incorrectly. Medicare, the HI system operator, has very advanced systems to detect that, identify it and rectify it."

The Department of Human Services general manager for health e-business Sue Kruse told the hearing that the issue has been "worked through", and MSIA's claims that Medicare held back reports was news to the department.

"I'm not aware of what the MSIA was referring to. We do monthly reports for NEHTA on data-quality issues, and there are none that have been reported to us," she told the hearing.

Flemming acknowledged that NEHTA has "detractors", adding that their concerns are valid and that NEHTA is listening. He said that nothing happens in NEHTA "without clinician approval", and the organisation already has 1.4 million health identifiers being used at the lead trial sites.

Department of Health and Ageing deputy secretary, Rosmary Huxtable, said the $466.7 million in e-health funding set out for e-health record implementation will be available until 1 July, and, although there is no guaranteed funding from the government after that date, there are plans in place for after the launch.

"Clearly, there is consideration ... about future funding, but I can't really comment further than that. But we are planning," she said.

Despite criticism from the Australian Medical Association that in its current form, e-health records wouldn't be ready by 1 July, Huxtable said that the "national infrastructure" for e-health records is on track to be delivered by 1 July, and that Australians will be able to register for a PCEHR on that date.

Topics: Health

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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