Govt shells out $21m for final leg of e-health record system

The funding will cover the final scope of the project before it goes live on 1 July

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has allocated $21 million to the National E-Health Transition Authority’s (NEHTA) for the final scope of the national e-health record system.

The final round of funding for the government’s $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project has come some four months after it was scheduled for allocation last November.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed the figure and the completion of negotiations but would not comment on why the funding had been delayed.

The funding will support the management of delivery partners to complete the build of the system, to implement strategies for change and take-up of the PCEHR and to support the e-health sites in implementing and testing aspects of the e-health record system.

It follows the second round of funding received by NEHTA — $50.5 million for the period from May to October 2011 — and covered a number of areas including system architecture, detailed business requirements, security design, standard requirements and technical specifications. This followed the allocation of the initial $38.5 million to support the PCEHR project from November 2010 to April 2011.

The government recently confirmed it made amendments to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to provide incentives for GPs participating in the PCEHR, after much lobbying by industry groups.

“I am pleased to confirm MBS consultation items will be available to GPs as part of providing continuity of care to a patient, and if they are creating or adding to a shared health summary on an e-health record which involves taking a patient’s medical history as part of a consultation,” Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek said.

DoHA maintains the project is on track and will be ready to go-live on 1 July, despite recent issues with the implementation of primary care desktop software development at a number of NEHTA’s lead implementation sites.

The spokesperson for the authority told Computerworld Australia that NEHTA had revised the specifications on 21 March and said the hiccup had not caused any delay.

“The e-health sites and PCEHR national infrastructure projects have operated in parallel, but neither is dependent on the other, therefore, the paused implementation of Primary Care desktop software development will not impact on the roll out of the PCEHR system from 1 July 2012,” the spokesperson said.

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