E-health record still too unsexy for COAG?

Health Minister Nicola Roxon's office has refused to say whether it will take the business case for an individual electronic health record (IEHR) to the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting on Monday.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon's office has refused to say whether it will take the business case for an individual electronic health record (IEHR) to the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting on Monday.

The authority the Federal Government has put in charge of rolling out a 16-digit number for most Australians, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), has said that an electronic healthcare record would be a "secure, electronic record of your medical history, stored and shared in a network of connected systems" which would give patients "the opportunity to look at [their] health information using a computer".

NEHTA has had the business case for rolling out such a record for some time now, but it has been passed over for consideration in COAG meetings a number of times.

"We don't know what is going to be discussed at COAG but we can confirm that information has been given to Health to contribute to a business case for an IEHR," a statement from NEHTA said.

In a statement from the minister's office, all that was said was that it is "expected that e-health will be discussed at the COAG meeting on 19 April". Asked if that encompassed the business case for an electronic health record for all Australians, the minister's office declined to comment.

Nicola Roxon

Nicola Roxon
(Credit: Australian Labor Party)

Roxon's office pointed ZDNet.com.au to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's health reform report (PDF), released to states and territories on Monday, which has one paragraph on e-health.

"In addition, e-health reforms will work to provide additional foundations to support improvements to the quality and efficiency of care across the National Health and Hospitals Network. The government will be making further announcements on these reforms over the coming weeks and months," the report states.

The issues in the report are intended to be discussed at the COAG meeting.

On Friday, the Victorian Government called for an updated business case for the roll-out of the electronic health record to be approved at the COAG meeting.

In December 2009, COAG committed to introducing an individual healthcare identifier. That identifier is planned to be introduced from 1 July.