Dr. Ian Rodgers, Director of eHealth and ICT Strategy Branch at NSW Health has announced that over the next six months NSW Health will engage in a refresh of its 2006 ICT Strategic Plan.
The Department will also develop a specialised eHealth strategy document in line with the national eHealth agenda and PCEHR program.
The 2006 ICT Strategic Plan aimed to consolidate and improve ICT systems while increasing the Department’s capacity to meet their objectives. The Plan had five sub-strategic components: clinical systems; corporate systems; business information strategy; sustainable infrastructure strategy and ICT management by Health.
Speaking at the CeBIT eHealth Conference on 1 June 2011, Dr. Rodgers announced the document would be reviewed in 2011 as it had reached the end of its five year timeframe, with new measures now needed to reflect the Department’s future needs.
Dr. Rogers also spoke at length about the Department’s experiences with implementing eHealth and particularly the Electronic Medical Record (EMR)(part of the clinical systems sub-strategy), suggesting that the project has demonstrated that successful eHealth projects are about business transformation processes, the internet and adaptability, as opposed to data sharing.
In his ‘The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in NSW – Next Steps’ address, Dr. Rodgers said that the NSW Health experience had sent an important message regarding the importance of business and change management procedures.
He also stressed the importance of the internet in eHealth through the establishing of a ‘hospital grade network’ to support the state-wide eHealth system. Clinical systems must be available 99.99% percent of the time, with good practices available to support users, he said.
The next stage of the eHealth journey for NSW Health will focus on the implementation of a number of initiatives, including:
- A five-year electronic medications management program, covering the prescribing, dispensing and administration of medications;
- Introducing EMR Phase 2, which extends to doctors in wards and clinics; and
- Implementing ICT Infrastructure Phase 2, which will build on the current project and convert ICT functions into a proper high grade system.
Also speaking at the eHealth Conference was Professor Michael Georgeff, CEO of Precedence Health Care, who shared his experiences of implementing electronic health record systems at a Federal level and emphasised the importance of taking note of overseas experiences with the model, such as in the UK.
Professor Georgoff, in his ‘The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and the Management of Chronic Disease’ address, suggested the current activity in the field of IT-related health reform has come about from the realisation that the industry’s management of knowledge (as opposed to the effectiveness of physical assets such as health personnel and equipment) was inefficient.
Georgeff called the design of the PCEHR system ‘very nice’ and spoke of the implementation of eHealth in the UK. The UK eHealth system, he said, had similar objectives to the Australian project, including better and safer care and greater efficiency. However, no evidence has been found to demonstrate that the UK ‘Healthspace’ program acquired these benefits, with very few individuals finding a health record useful for health management.
To avoid such negative results, Australia’s system must follow three principles:
- Applications, not data: the view that sharing data among health professionals and systems through eHealth will make a difference is misguided, Georgeff argues. Rather, business processes, solutions and applications are the key to achieving success. Like the iPhone, the value of the system lies in the applications, not the fact that it stores data.
- ‘Follow the internet road’: Healthcare is about knowledge, which is intrinsically tied to the internet world. The internet will also allow the model to be adaptable, connective and future proof.
- Awareness of the future: Georgeff argues that PCEHR infrastructure will not add any value by itself but must be combined with applications. A key issue for the future will also be convincing providers that it is time for a change.
As the biggest ICT initiative in last year’s budget, the PCEHR system received $466.7 million in funding in 2010-11, with $281.2 million to be spent in 2011-12.