Australian eHealth Debate

In many blog posts over the past few months I have implored Canada Health Infoway to open a public debate on the Canadian eHealth strategy.  Most recently I made this plea in a blog post regarding significant changes that have been proposed for the Australian eHealth strategy.    Some reasons for considering a different approach to sharing patient health information are contained in a recent article on the Australian eHealth strategy. In this article, John Backhouse, Information Builders’ regional programme director for health care, asks some questions that we should, I believe, be asking in Canada: “What is it the government wants to achieve with the e-health record? Are we trying to get an entire health record for the patient or are we creating a care summary record?  Which one we are trying to achieve, and what is the usefulness of what it will enable the clinicians to do?”

Booz & Co  principal, Klaus Boehncke, co-author of a report on the Australian eHealth system, and Mr. Backhouse both warn that  a “top down” Government imposed information system for health authorities, patients and practitioners will not work.   Instead,  Mr. Backhouse recommends that  “You need to take it bottom up, then aggregate the data to provide to executives in the health areas.”  Mr. Barkhouse goes on to explains that:

“Clinicians treat as they find, and use diagnosis tools as methods to get to the root cause of the problem, so an e-health record will not have any impact on this clinical process. However an e-health record, if used as a summary record, is a powerful tool for managing community care, aged care and end of life care. This will enable continuity of care between multiple health care professionals. If this is done from a bottom up approach – local organisation to local authorities to regional areas – this will be a successful project.”

I think that a “bottom up” approach should be considered in Canada.  More importantly, I believe that we need an open and transparent debate on Canada’s eHealth agenda.  Anyone else feel the same way?


One response to “Australian eHealth Debate

  1. Nelson Shen

    I totally agree with you. I think a public dialog would give this movement more purpose and really help with user buy in. I just recently wrote a paper about adoption of PHR into the Canadian landscape and based on my lit search, I think that there are many myths/misconceptions that need to be dispelled or addressed. I think it is up to the healthcare community as a whole from clinical, research, policy, and administrative to sit down and define a purpose for this venture, create a knowledge base, and figure out how the roles and dynamics will change as a result of it. In order for it to be successful, there needs to be a clear vision and a supporting culture. That can only be built bottom up.

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