​Commonwealth appoints Telstra strategy director as Digital Health Agency CEO

Tim Kelsey has been appointed as the CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency, a newly established agency which is responsible for all national digital health services and systems.

The federal government has announced the appointment of Tim Kelsey as the chief executive officer for the Australian Digital Health Agency, established last week to ensure Australia's health system is technologically up to date.

Kelsey will begin his employment with the government agency this month, leaving his tenure at Telstra Health, where he is currently the strategy and commercial director tasked with implementing the telco's technology to support Telstra-backed healthcare initiatives.

Prior to landing at Telstra, Kelsey was the first national director for patients and information in NHS England which saw him responsible for patient and public participation, marketing, brand, and communications for the national commissioner for health and care services.

During his time at the NHS, Kelsey designed and launched NHS Choices website, the national online information service which Kelsey said reports around 20 million unique users per month.

He took up the post at NHS England in 2012 after serving as the British government's first executive director of transparency and open data.

In 2000, Kelsey co-founded Dr Foster, an organisation he said pioneered publication of patient outcomes in healthcare.

"I believe that digital and social media can transform the customer experience in public services," Kelsey says on his LinkedIn profile.

Among other things, the Australian Digital Health Agency will become the system operator for My Health Record, the Australian government's e-health record system, which has been automatically assigning citizens with an online account since late 2015.

Originally switched on in 2012, the system was given a further AU$485 million in funding during the 2015-16 Budget. At the same time, it was rebranded from the "personally controlled e-health record system" (PCEHR) to My Health Record.

It has since been pitched by the government that a properly functioning national e-health system could save taxpayers up to AU$2.5 billion per year within a decade's time, with another AU$1.6 billion per year savings for the states.

Speaking last week at the Health Informatics Conference 2016 in Melbourne, Minister for Health Sussan Ley said she expects that within the "next week or so", 4 million Australians will have a My Health Record.

In addition to being the system operator for the My Health Record, the new agency will also be involved closely with the trial and implementation of the AU$21 million Health Care Homes initiative, which forms part of the government's Healthier Medicare package that includes a clinician-led review of all 5,700 items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

The Department of Health contracted Telstra Health in May to construct and run the new Australian National Cancer Screening Register for the next five years, with the database to maintain patient records for cancer testing across the country.

The register will be overseen by health professionals, and will link records from federal, state, and territory government agencies, My Health Record, and Medicare, as well as private health service providers, pathologists, and general practices. It will provide mail-based reminders for patients whose cancer screening is due, and a contact centre for those needing assistance.

The contract came after Telstra Health announced it successfully implemented an enterprise electronic medical record (EMR) system at the two newest Australian hospitals, which was also built to complement the My Health Record system.