PCEHR $233m commitment welcomed
EXPERTS have welcomed the government’s continued commitment to the personally controlled e-health records system but questioned the wisdom of forcing GPs to participate by threatening to withdraw practice incentive payments.
The government announced in last week’s budget it will spend $233.7 million on e-health over the next two years; $67.4 million on the National E-Health Transition Authority, $161.6 million on the PCEHR and another $4.6 million on privacy and security safeguards for the system.
But that money will come from a total of $257.5 million stripped out of the existing telehealth initiative, which will now end on 30 June next year instead of in 2015 as originally planned, and the HealthConnect program, which was designed to standardise secure electronic messaging.
The announcements came with one other proviso: GPs who do not participate in the system will no longer receive the e-health practice incentive payment.
NEHTA clinical lead Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said while the new funding was “a relief”, linking participation in the PCEHR to the PIP could “scare the horses”.
“It’s a relief there’s a commitment to ongoing funding and to the program, because it will allow us to capitalise on the investments that have already been made to bring the system to this point,” Dr Haikerwal said.
“[However] it is a very big ask for GPs to do all the things they are required to do for the PCEHR; there are a lot of compliance points,” he said.
RACGP president Professor Claire Jackson said it was “very disappointing” to see the government using the e-health PIP as “a stick” to prod GPs into using the PCEHR.
“There’s absolutely no detail about what’s going to be available to support practices in their preparation and readiness for the PCEHR and it launches in seven weeks,” she said.