NT Govt commits $186m to e-health record system


news The Northern Territory has announced plans to spend $186 million on a jurisdiction-wide, integrated electronic health record system.

Implemented as part of the 2016 Budget, the investment will be spread over five years as part of the Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program (CCSRP).

Minister for Corporate and Information Services Peter Styles said the program to upgrade the existing core clinical information systems will be the “largest ICT reform ever undertaken” in the Territory.

“For the first time clinicians will be able to electronically access patient records from any public health care facility, anywhere in the Territory,” he said.

The e-health program will replace four existing clinical information systems with a single end-to-end clinical information system at the point of care for all public health facilities, including all NT public hospitals and more then 50 health clinics.

“It will improve efficiency, eliminate outdated, manual systems of patient support and ultimately improve health outcomes,” Styles said.

John Elferink, Minister for Health, said the NT Government has set out to revolutionise healthcare delivery in the Territory by modernising the “outdated” ICT system to ensure correct information on patients is available at the point of treatment.

“The program will transform our public health care network meaning clinicians will no longer need to re-assess a patient’s history each time they visit a Territory public health service,” Elferink said.

He added that immediate access to patient records will improve the delivery of healthcare in the Territory through reduced readmissions, reduced emergency department waiting times and improved patient safety.

The announcement extends the Country Liberal Government’s commitment to set the standard in core clinical health and follows the development and implementation of innovative health solutions such as Telehealth.

Since 2012, the Federal Government has also been developing a similar e-health system – the My Health Record (previously known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record).

My Health Record is intended to provide a secure online summary of individuals’ health information for doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to view and share, with the aim of providing the “best possible” care.

However, some observers, such as the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF), have warned that the scheme is a “privacy disaster waiting to happen”.

Dr Bernard Robertson-Dunn, chair of the health committee at the APF, said the government has failed to put in place much-needed protections, which “exposes patients to curious call centre operators whose prying and spying are unlikely to be detected”.

Previously, though, Minister for Health Sussan Ley has said patients would have “ultimate control over who accessed their information” and that legislation would mandate fines of up to $500,000 or jail sentences for anyone who deliberately misuses or inappropriately accesses users’ health information.