The Australian Medical Association has named e-health infrastructure as one of the highest priorities to receive cash from the government's $10 billion Health and Hospitals fund, in a submission to the 2009-2010 Federal Budget released today.
"Further investment in e-health infrastructure, particularly in hospitals, medical practices, aged care, pharmacy and other allied health practices, is needed to fully enable the sharing of patient information electronically in Australia," the submission said.
The Health and Hospitals Fund was formed by the Rudd Government to enable investment in health and hospital facilities and equipment, medical technology and major medical research facilities. Applicant guidelines for the fund specify that capital funding can be used for information management and technology systems installation.
The AMA named e-health infrastructure as one of three "critical" investment areas alongside equipment in rural hospitals and training facilities in general practices.
Last week, the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) also lodged a submission to the Budget, calling for its e-health funding, which ends this June, to be extended. It recommended $13 million per year be allocated.
The AGPN would use the funding to continue and extend its current work on training and support of roll-outs on various e-health strategies. It would look to employ 60 new division-based e-health program officers as well as paying for current staff.
The National E-health Transition Authority (NEHTA), which has been charged with developing better ways of collecting and exchanging health information, would not be lodging a submission because it had a clear funding channel — Council of Australian Governments (COAG), a spokesperson for the authority said.
NEHTA was allocated $218 million at a COAG meeting last year. More money may be doled out at a future COAG meeting to fund the individual electronic health record business case.