Budget 2014: E-health records system gets $141m to continue on

Australia's e-health system will push on in its current form while the federal government plans a response to a recent review into the system.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Until the Australian federal government, and its Minister for Health Peter Dutton respond to the recently completed review into Australia's personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) system, the PCEHR will push on with AU$140.6m in funding for this financial year.

Perceived as an underutilised system, earlier this year it was revealed in Senate Estimates that the system had moved from 900,000 registered users in November 2013 to 1.4 million customers by late February 2014.

Dutton, however, aimed up at the lack of clinicians using the system, what he labelled as a rushed implementation by the former government, and stated that the federal government would look to make the system more "practical".

"Implementation issues have plagued the PCEHR from day one," Dutton said in a statement. "The government will need to make it effective, functional, and easy for all Australians to use, and clinically relevant to health providers."

There will be no hectic rush to change PCEHR, with the government saying that it will consider the recommendations to come out of its short PCEHR review over the coming months.

"The PCEHR review identified key flaws in the current designs and implementation of the PCEHR, and made some significant recommendations to the system.

"Careful planning and consultation are required to ensure that the government's response to the recommendation and future investment in the eHealth system provide the best results possible."

Along the lines of the Commission of Audit report delivered earlier this month that stated the federal government should embrace outsourcing, half a million dollars was set aside in the budget for the Department of Health, in consultation with the Department of Human Services, to develop a proposal and seek expressions of interest for an integrated health payments system.

"Expressions of interest will be sought from commercial providers to gauge interest in the proposal and to identify potential alternative approaches to the delivery of health payments," the budget papers said.

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