Govt names new e-health leadership

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Govt names new e-health leadership

Preparing for the abolition of NeHTA.

The federal government has named the 11 board members set to steer its new e-health directive as it prepares to establish the Australian Digital Health Agency in place of the soon-to-be-abolished NeHTA.

The ADHA will lead the Commonwealth’s revised approach to electronic healthcare, which has been driven by the recommendations of the 2013 Royle review into the failings of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR).

That review (pdf) found that the agency in charge of implementing the government’s e-health policy, the National e-Health Transition Authority, “does not have the confidence of the industry or audience that it is attempting to represent”.

It said the composition of the NeHTA board, which was made up of directors general from state, territory and federal health departments, failed to reflect the objectives of the agency. It also said stakeholder ideas and concerns were prone to be overruled or lost in the bureaucracy of the organisation.

Health Minister Sussan Ley in response pieced together a panel of health officials to work alongside bankers, health insurers, practitioners and private healthcare providers to head the ADHA.

The board will be chaired by former head of the South Australian health department Jim Birch.

In a statement, Birch said his board boasted “a strong involvement with health consumers and digital innovation, bringing the right skills mix to drive the innovation needed to meet the ongoing and future health needs of Australians”.

The government has also called in professionals from as far and wide as Commonwealth Bank’s retail chief Lyn McGrath and health informatics professor Johanna Westbrook.

Australia's states and territories will be represented by former NSW Health CIO and current director general of Queensland Health Michael Walsh, and NT Department of Health and Families CIO Stephen Moo.

Federal Department of Health special e-health adviser Paul Madden has also been given a seat at the table.

“Today’s technology is constantly evolving or superseded by new innovation, so it is important the agency leads and provides direction in developing digital health, bringing our health system into the digital century,” Ley said in a statement.

The government has started trials of its new ‘opt-out’ approach to personal electronic health records at pilot sites in north Queensland and the NSW Blue Mountains.

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