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Doubts e-health record launch will deliver
THE personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) could begin with a whimper, not a bang, according to industry experts who expect the government to offer little more at launch than an internet portal where consumers can register for an electronic record.
The speculation follows questioning of the launch date by software industry groups and warnings from the AMA that the system would be an “empty promise” if it was launched without essential infrastructure in place.
UNSW Centre for Health Informatics director Professor Enrico Coiera said the government had been careful to only promise that consumers could register for a record in July, and it was likely to be some time before a fully functioning PCEHR was widely used.
“I think when you listen to what the government [is] saying, there will be a soft launch in July,” he said.
Health Informatics Society of Australia CEO Dr Louise Schaper (PhD) said the July deadline had always been about “the ability to register for a PCEHR”.
“A populated and functional record on July 1 was never promised by [Health Minister Tanya Plibersek] or her predecessor,” she said. “The functionality and content of the PCEHR will build up over time.”
Medical Software Industry Association president Jon Hughes said a soft launch would be a wasted opportunity when it was possible to deliver a pared down system by 1 July.
A health department spokesperson said the 1 July launch would allow consumers to “access, view and update their health information”. Infrastructure testing allowing healthcare providers to connect to the PCEHR would be completed by the launch date, she said.