news The New South Wales Government has launched a 10-year eHealth strategy, saying it will bring “smart, safe, sustainable and digitally-enabled care” to patients.
The state’s developing eHealth initiative includes a raft of measaures aimed to use digital technologies to transform the way healthcare is delivered.
“By harnessing technology, the NSW Government has made NSW Health the most advanced eHealth system in Australia,” Health Minister Jillian Skinner said when launching the 10-year scheme at the CeBIT Australia conference in Sydney.
According to Skinner, the new eHealth Strategy for NSW Health 2016–2026 builds on the 2013 Blueprint for eHealth and outlines the way forward for the state’s investment in the sector for the coming decade.
In her introduction, the Minister said the strategy “takes into account recent
Whole‑of‑Government ICT strategies, the latest advances in health technology, policy directions including Integrated Care and ongoing enhancements to performance, quality and safety in our health system.”
She added that it also supports hospital building and redevelopment programs, while guiding investment in creating “smart hospitals for the future, a connected health system and effective community‑based services in NSW”.
The strategy further sets out seven key areas for investment in fields such as integrated care, health analytics and personalised healthcare that will be delivered in three phases
over the 10 years of the plan.
The eHealth initiatives announced include electronic medical records (EMRs) that integrate patients’ diagnostic, medication and medical history into one electronic record. This can then be shared across public hospital or health facilities, as well as in outpatient healthcare settings, according to a statement.
EMRs, which Skinner said improve processes of care and help reduce clinical risks and errors, now cover around 80% of the NSW hospital bed base.
Currently being rolled out at hospitals, an electronic medication management system (eMeds) makes prescribing and dispensing medications fast and accurate, and allows the detection of potentially dangerous medication errors.
Then there is HealtheNet, which is aimed to improve communication between hospitals and community and private healthcare facilities by sharing patient information “electronically and securely”.
Telehealth addresses challenges of distance for rural and remote communities by allowing the use of mobile devices helps community nurses and remote families connect to expert care. It complements face-to-face consultation, reduces travel time and improves access to specialists and advice, according to the statement.
Other features include clinical analytics, workforce and business management systems, data analytics and more.
“We allocated over $400 million in our first term of Government to support advances in technology in our hospitals and health facilities to deliver safer, higher quality, more efficient and better coordinated care for patients,” said Skinner. “This strategy will build on those positive, patient-centred changes.”