Publication Date 01/09/2009         Volume. 1 No. 4   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the September 2009 issue of i2P E-Magazine - Information to Pharmacists.
In this edition I would point you to the Pharmedia link where trends in US pharmacy consumers are noted and matched to the Australian counterpart.
There is a strong similarity between the two countries.
In this commentary a direction and a strategy is suggested.
Please feel free to add your comment in the panel provided at the foot of this commentary, as it is a very important issue for Australian pharmacists.

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Health IT Needs More Money - What's New About That?

Staff Writer

articles by this author...

Editing and Researching news and stories about global and local Pharmacy Issues

The consistent mismatch of approaches to Health IT continue to occur, even with the best efforts of Minister for Health and Ageing (Nicola Roxon) trying to uncover the best way forward.
Costs, both in the government and private sectors, have continually expanded to now stellar $ numbers.
Nicola Roxon's focus on the patient and building out from that point, will see her win the day.
Vendors (such as the Pharmacy Guild) who are canny enough to mould their systems to her view of the world, may eventually get a "nod" of some sort, provided the systems developed genuinely provide a scale of economy, saving development costs as well as delivering the specified benefits to health generally.
Commitment has been made to a National Broadband Network (NBN) and a 16-digit patient identifier so movement to shared health records is nearly possible, with the AMA making some "noises" towards a form of electronic health record (but not a full record).

Source: Australian IT,24897,25975393-5013040,00.html

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Costs holding up e-health

Karen Dearne | August 25, 2009


THE health technology sector went to Canberra last week but received not much more than the Rudd government's best regards. 

With healthcare "at a tipping point", Health Minister Nicola Roxon said, the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission report had provided a blueprint "for the most significant reform since the introduction of Medicare 25 years ago" -- largely based on the benefits e-health could deliver.

"Fast-forward 50 years," she said. "Can you imagine our health system without instant access to our medical records?

"Where you have to carry your X-rays to each appointment, or have test results posted to your doctor? Where a simple click could deliver so much information, but doesn't because we didn't take action when we should have?

"It's unthinkable. I want our future health system to be connected, secure and efficient."

But cost is the sticking point. Ms Roxon said the reform commission put the price of a nationwide individual e-health record system at between $1.1 billion and $1.8bn -- "that's serious money, and it will require serious consideration".

Despite the potential to revolutionise service delivery, relieve patient distress, cut the costs of duplicated tests and treatment, and reduce medical and drug errors, the government needs to get its planned cuts to the private health insurance rebate through the Senate before it budgets for e-health.

"We are trying to change the rebate provided to high-income earners -- for example couples who earn over $250,000 -- and that would save the government an estimated $1.9bn," Ms Roxon told the CHIK Services' Health-e-Nation conference last Wednesday.

"As you can see, the e-health reforms are an example of what we could pay for if this measure is passed."

Despite this impediment, Ms Roxon was keen to confirm that controversial plans for patient identity numbers -- presently subject to public consultation -- were on track for an early rollout.

"By the middle of next year, all Australians will have been allocated a 16-digit healthcare identifier," she said. "This is the first step in building a secure e-health system.

"It will not replace your Medicare card -- it will be a totally new number -- and it will be the key that unlocks the information on your medical record."

Ms Roxon's assertion that individuals will "own" the key and "decide who gets access to your records" has been challenged by federal Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis and some consumer groups.

On Thursday, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was selling the national broadband network for its capacity to reform the healthcare system.

"I say to the health and aged care sectors, grasp this opportunity with both hands," he told the Health Informatics Conference 2009.

"Move now to advance e-health innovation and maximise the benefits made possible by the NBN."

Senator Conroy said the hi-tech sector and specialists were already driving developments based on greater broadband capacity for high-resolution digital imaging, remote consultations via videoconferencing, and paramedical access to records in emergency situations.

Given the government's interest in health as a prime customer for NBN services, some industry observers were disappointed no one with health expertise had been appointed to the new company's board.

Meanwhile, Australian Medical Association president Andrew Pesce said doctors were happy to give patients access to summary electronic records, but these would only be "an adjunct to the comprehensive patient records kept by the doctor".

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