Tech metrics missing from e-health records blueprint

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Tech metrics missing from e-health records blueprint
Thumbs up from medical practitioners

NBN expected to 'facilitate new opportunities'.

The National E-health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has released a 125-page blueprint for Australia's $467 million personally controlled e-health records system (PCEHR), but was unable to provide further detail on the technology required to deliver the service.

The draft report (pdf) made no mention of response times, latency or any other key technology details behind the PCEHR -- intended as a centralised system for collecting and sharing Australia's healthcare data.

While viewing rates, the number of records added, and consumer surveys were highlighted as 'key performance indicators', there was no explicit reference to critical issues such as the speed of access to data repositories.

"The existing Internet capability in Australia is able to support most current eHealth applications," NEHTA wrote.

"Once implemented, the National Broadband Network will extend broadband support and facilitate new opportunities in eHealth."

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Ageing deferred iTnews' questions on data performance to NEHTA.

Last month, the department advised prospective tenderers that the "performance of the [PCEHR] system should not hinder the end user experience. Suppliers should provide details on how they will address performance issues."

No uptake estimates for opt-in system

The departmental spokesperson was also unable to provide an estimate of PCEHR uptake by individuals once the opt-in system was rolled out.

The spokesman said the Government expected to have "up to 500,000" Australians on the system prior to the official 1 July 2012 launch, following grants to a dozen healthcare organisations to run pilot projects for their clients announced earlier this year.

Those were:

  • Hunter Urban Division of General Practice
  • GP Partners Ltd (Brisbane)
  • Melbourne East General Practice Ltd.
  • Medibank Private Limited
  • Brisbane South Division Limited
  • Mater Misericordiae Health Project
  • Northern Territory Department of Health and Families Project
  • Greater Western Sydney eHealth Consortium (NSW Department of Health)
  • Cradle Coast, North-West Area Health Service Project
  • St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney Project
  • FRED IT Group MedView Project
  • Calvary Healthcare Project

The opt-in provision was expected to allay privacy concerns. PCEHR users also had the ability to control which parts of their health records would be shared with whom, and could "deactivate" their PCEHR at any time.

According to the draft blueprint, individuals may also request healthcare providers to not send information to their PCEHR -- which could potentially leave the system as fragmented as current clinical records.

The draft was developed in consultation with patient groups, the health and IT sectors, other Governments and stakeholders. NEHTA has invited feedback at http://yourhealth.gov.au until 31 May 2011.

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