An e-health system that connects patient information across health care settings, and which can be accessed and contributed to by treating doctors and other health professionals, will improve the safety and quality of medical care in Australia.
The benefits of e-health in making the best use of existing health care services and avoiding errors, duplication and waste are well known. To treating doctors, e-health means being able to access all of the clinically relevant medical information about a patient at the time of diagnosis or treatment.
Australia has made significant progress in developing technical specifications and standards for e-health systems. The time has come to build the overarching infrastructure to make e-health a reality.
Health care of the patient is best served when the medical practitioner has access to the full health record.
Personally controlled electronic health records empower and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own health, but their use may be severely limited for medical practitioners in terms of their content, accuracy, and the comprehensiveness of information.
Therefore, a shared secure electronic medical record, in addition to any personally controlled health record, is needed to improve the safety of patient care.
A commercial approach that relies solely on private investment and private engagement has not served the e-health agenda well. The next Government, with the State and Territory Governments, must drive and fully fund the development and implementation of a shared electronic medical record.
To make e-health a reality, the next Government must fund and build the overarching infrastructure to connect patient information and facilitate access by medical practitioners across the public and private health care sectors so that a summary electronic medical record can finally become a reality.
The medical profession must be a key driver of the design and implementation of the infrastructure to ensure that it works on the ground in medical practices.
A shared electronic medical record that links reliable and relevant medical information across health care settings will help provide treating doctors with the information required to inform clinical decisions.
The next Government must fund and implement a shared electronic medical record that:
- Contains reliable and relevant medical information about individuals;
- Aligns with clinical workflows and integrates with existing medical practice software;
- Is governed by a single national entity; and
- Is fully funded by Governments and supported by appropriate incentives, education and training.
* For a full pdf version of the Key Health Issues for the 2010 Federal Election click here