Grace Information Management Blog

Electronic health records have been touted as the way of the future, but now it seems Australia’s rollout scheme has been a failure.

Health Minister Peter Dutton announced the $1 billion electronic health records system will be reviewed after it failed to drum up enough support from doctors and patients.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, the Minister said only a few hundred doctors were using the system and only 5000 patients were using the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Program.

“It has been a scandal. On those numbers it runs at about $200,000 a patient,” said Mr Dutton.

“The government fully supports the concept of electronic health records, but it must be fit for purpose and cost effective,” he added.

The aim of electronic health records is to provide an online summary that approved healthcare providers and hospitals can use to view and share an individual’s health information, including diagnoses, allergies and medications.

The former government set up the $1 billion initiative with an aim of 500,000 patient users by June 30, but failed to reach its target.

An international survey conducted earlier this year by Accenture found that Australian doctors were more resistant to allowing patients full control over their electronic health records than many of their international counterparts.

However, the same report found that most Australian doctors believed that electronic sharing of health records reduced errors.

Minister Dutton has pointed to a lack of software that has prevented doctors from making full use of the system.

Grace Information Management has already worked with many private medical and dental practices to digitise paper records as many doctors see the benefits of going paperless. It is hoped that the outcomes from the review will simplify and increase the use of electronic health records more generally, which has potential benefits for every Australian.

The review will be chaired by UnitingCare Health group executive director Richard Royale, who will be assisted by Australian Medical Association president, Dr Steve Hambleton, and Australia Post’s Chief Information Officer, Andrew Walduck.

“The review team’s expertise encompasses information technology, patient and medical services, and business administration, which I believe is the right mix to put the electronic records program back on track,” Dutton said.

The review is open to submissions from the public as well as stakeholder groups.