With the rapid evolution of technology and the gradual expansion of Australia’s NBN, significant developments are taking place in areas such as the digital delivery of medical service. Hot on the heels of CSC’s acquisition of iSoft, Patrick Budmar talks to CSC Australia national director for health services, Lisa Pettigrew, on what lies ahead for eHealth in Australia.
What are the challenges associated with eHealth in Australia?
Lisa Pettigrew (LP): I think Australia is not unique in the challenges posed by eHealth, and by far the biggest challenge is the consumer engagement and the changing balance of patients’ and doctors’ autonomy. So what we’re seeing now with the advent of new technologies is the patient wanting and needing more control, and with chronic instead of infectious diseases dominating the landscape, consumers want to play an active part in their health care. That has created natural healthy tension between patients and doctors over control of the diagnosis.
The other issues are public perception and how to balance the need for privacy. On the one hand, we have people that are very passionate about privacy and consent, and want to have quite stringent control over sharing of their data. At the other end of the spectrum, we have consumers that we refer to as 'frequent fliers,' who want open access and want to make sure every clinical provider can access to their data to speed up their health care. It’s a challenge in every country to find the right balance of privacy control with ease of use.
What opportunities in eHealth do you see for resellers and distributors?
LP: I think any company that has a good value proposition has a growing role to play in the eHealth sector. Our acquisition of iSoft represents a changing ecosystem where IP is becoming more important and we're increasingly heading towards a digital convergence, and no one company can or should dominate that. The name of our game is partnering and we’re looking forward to working with other organisations to interlock iSoft with other software solutions. So we see a lot of opportunities for resellers and distributors, and I think it’s just an issue of people keeping up with how the eHealth landscape is changing very quickly.
What still needs to happen in the health industry from your perspective?
LP: The IT industry needs to balance looking after the individual needs of the company and helping to contribute to the industry, so we need to work together as an industry to inform the government of what’s needed to improve the way health care is delivered and not get to protective of our own patches of turf. We need to understand how the payment model has to change and how to contribute to the public debate on this. The government also needs to send a message of clarity and direction around their direction for eHealth, as well as political and clinical leadership around the engagement of consumers and carers.
Finally, how difficult is it to focus on Australian needs and the Australian picture when CSC is such a global company?
LP: Australia and New Zealand form a large part of CSC’s global enterprise, and we get quite a big say of what goes on particularly in the health space. In some instances, what we do in Australia will lead what is done at CSC, as Australia is a mature market where we can explore partnerships with other IT companies. If that works well, we can then export that knowledge to other parts of the world. Australia has a very strong voice within the world of CSC, and this will continue at iSoft.