The New South Wales Department of Health has announced plans to restructure its e-health operations into a single agency before the end of the year, in a bid to make NSW the leading state in Australia for e-health delivery.
The new eHealth NSW agency will be made up of fragments of the NSW Department of Health and Health Support Services to deliver a "whole-of-NSW Health" approach to e-health delivery.
"In NSW, the current ICT governance model can be regarded as a 'half-way house', with staff and functions spread between the department, which has a strategic role, Health Support Services, which is responsible for rolling out major corporate and clinical systems and Area Health Service-based ICT services," the government said in its report into agency governance released yesterday (PDF).
The report added that NSW eHealth will develop a master plan complete with delivery dates and realistic timelines for the roll-out of projects like personally controlled e-health records, telehealth initiatives and e-prescribing systems.
The head of eHealth NSW is also set to be included on the NSW director-general's executive leadership team to keep government adequately informed.
"eHealth NSW will become the system leader for the NSW Health information strategy, forward planning and delivery," the report said, adding that the delivery of the e-health master plan will come after extensive consultation with the healthcare industry in the state, a strategy similar to the government's ICT master plan.
"It is critical that an early objective of eHealth NSW is a re-setting of strategy based on extensive consultation with clinicians and other users, and the redesign of ICT governance to ensure clear state-wide plans and an appropriate balance with local initiatives."
It's currently unclear how the department will work with the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), with the Health Department promising more announcements in coming months.
Healthcare services provider CSC Australia today welcomed the planned new agency.
"CSC welcomes the creation of eHealth NSW. This model truly puts eHealth and IT at the centre of healthcare delivery. No longer is IT a back office function as this structure demonstrates that technology is a necessary part of a modern, safe and quality healthcare system that is fundamental to healthcare service delivery," said Lisa Pettigrew, CSC Australia's director of Health Services.