The global electronic health record (EHR) industry is set to blossom this year but Australia’s muddled national e-health strategy may stymie local growth, according to research firm, Ovum.
In its 2010 Trends to Watch: Healthcare Technology report, Ovum claims 2010 will be a pivotal year for EHR adoption. It credits worldwide government e-health initiatives and the recovering economy with spurringIT uptake by healthcare providers.
However, Ovum claims Australia risks sluggish EHR growth as the Federal Government fails to ratify a detailed direction for e-health. This will only be resolved when the National E-Health Strategy pushed by the Rudd government back in 2008 to standardise health record formats and integrating public and private health data is formalised.
While the country is already advanced in terms of healthcare and related IT systems, the e-health agenda has made little progress, Ovum research director, Steve Hodgkinson, said.
“[It’s] a lot of talk and not much action,” Hodgkinson, said. “Action is happening at a local and regional level with individual health organisations and hospitals implementing health record solutions but the issue is how they integrate together, which is the preoccupation of the strategy.
Hodgkinson said the Government was in the lurch as these kinds of issues required agreement amongst the various political parties. But without clear national directions the E-Health strategy has become an obstacle in healthcare technology investments.
“It is a two-edged sword,” he said. “The Government can speed things up if it makes effective and decisive decisions and funds are allocated to get things moving.
“I think it’s fair to say many people in the industry are frustrated by the time everything is taking and the lack of clarity of directions and people are holding off investment to wait and see what happens.”
The Ovum report also tipped software-as-a-service (SaaS) and speech recognition tools to drive EHR uptake. While Hodgkinson said these technologies were gaining traction in the health sector, patient information security concerns meant it would be some time before they would be adopted across the board.