Budget 2010-2011: e-Health records get $466.7 million

IT and health companies set to get a massive boost from the drive for centralised patient records

The Government has announced $466.7 million will be pumped into the creation of a national electronic medical record system (e-Health).

The records will be controlled by patients and start in 2012-2013. $185.6m will be spent over the next 12 months while $281.2m will be spent in the following year.

“This will mean patients and their doctors will have their health records at their fingertips, improving patient health care and delivery,” the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said.

The move is expected to be a boon for tech and health companies which have long pushed for the establishment of a nationalised patient record database.

IT services provider, CSC, claimed it was the world’s largest health systems integrator and welcomed the Government’s move.

“The $466.7 million investment is very important, enabling funding for e-health as part of modernising Australia's health system,” CSC director for health services, Lisa Pettigrew, said. “With an initial investment of $466.7 million as announced, Australia can make substantial progress.”

According to the Federal Budget 2010/2011 papers, the information will come from pre-existing sources of medical information. The Government’s ultimate aim is to consolidate general health history, pathology, radiology and prescription data into a single access point.

“Patients who choose to participate will be able to securely access, and permit their healthcare providers to access, their health information,” it said.

The system is designed to build upon the Healthcare Identifiers Service, which the Government claims will be a foundation service for all e-Health initiatives in Australia.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will also get $500,000 each year to manage the new health record database.