Wednesday, 16 October 2013 23:56

GPs raise concerns over e-health record system

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Australia’s general practice (GP) leaders are calling on the federal government to heed what they say are concerns raised by GPs regarding the “significant clinical utility issues” associated with the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR) system.

The GPs, through the United General Practice Australia (UGPA) – the overarching organisation comprising a number of Australia’s medical bodies- say the government needs to give urgent priority to addressing the issues with the PCEHR system.

According to the UGPA, its members meeting in Canberra unanimously agreed that the focus of the PCEHR needs to be redirected to clinical utility and standardisation to ensure seamless clinical adoption.

In a statement issued by the UGPA, it says that significant issues have been identified and currently there is no alignment between consumer registration and meaningful use through engagement of the clinical community and assurance of improvement of patient health outcomes.

The organisation points to the fact that in August a number of key clinical leads resigned from National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), amidst what it says was “ongoing concerns and requests for NEHTA and the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) to review the PCEHR development cycle and re-establish meaningful clinical l input.”

It also says that since August, DoHA has become the PCEHR system operator and “opportunities for clinical engagement have been less clear.”

According to UGPA, e-health and the PCEHR have the potential to transform Australia’s health system and provide superior, safer and more efficient healthcare to all Australian patients, and its members believe that this potential will only be fully realised if there is meaningful clinical engagement at a grassroots level.

UGPA said it was calling on the government to implement strategies to ensure the PCEHR is best structured to improve the health outcomes of all Australians, and that the process should be profession-led and include:

•    GP input at every level of the PCEHR development life cycle; including planning through to implementation

•    Ensuring the system is clinically safe, usable and fit for purpose

•    Supported by an acceptable, and robust  legal and privacy framework

•    Secure messaging interoperability is a critical dependency priority.

UGPA points to the fact that the government has announced it will review implementation of the PCEHR, and that it supports the review and looks forward to contributing to the review and “expect that the clinical voice and the concerns raised will be heard.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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