Australia moves to Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records

Last fall I wrote about a possible dramatic shift in eHealth strategy in Australia.  Today,the Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, announced a $466.7M (AU$) investment in “a secure system of personally controlled electronic health records” that are accessible over the Internet.  Patients will be able to “present for treatment anywhere in the country, and give permission for health professionals to access their relevant history at the touch of a button“.

There are increasing calls across Canada a open and public review of Canada’s eHealth strategy which is heavily oriented on a centralized system of electronic health records.   The Australians had embarked on a similar approach which they have abandoned in favour personally controlled health records.  Perhaps it is time for Canada to at least consider a similar approach.

Mike

One response to “Australia moves to Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records

  1. A major problem with the concept of an interoperable EHR (iEHR) is that people have been selling the concept with the expectation of great financial savings. In fact, I found a quick quote on Infoway’s website stating “The Booz Allen Hamilton study in Canada estimated savings of $6 billion annually with a fully developed EHR”.

    The problem with this is that we are telling citizens that the EHR will straight out save us money, when studies contradicting this are piling up. In fact there was a recent study that found “It takes at least four and more typically up to nine years before initiatives produce their first positive annual SER and six to eleven years to realise a cumulative net benefit” (http://www.ehealtheurope.net/news/5480/ehrs_deliver_soft_benefits_for_hard_cash).

    I’m sure that one of the major reasons for Australia’s shift was that they realized EHR’s are hard to defend fiscally and thus chose for the PCHR option instead. I think it’s high time that Canada stop promising cost savings for the iEHR facing such overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise. We need to start telling the truth, EHRs will improve quality of care, but don’t expect massive savings at the start.

    At this rate I’m not sure if I want to be around in 2015 when the pipe-dream fades away….

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