NEHTA Clinical Lead Dr Mukesh Haikerwal has said there is much work to be done in order for healthcare professionals to be on board with the personally controlled electronic healthcare record (PCEHR).
Speaking in an exclusive interview with eHealthspace.org at the recent Health-e-Nation conference, he conceded the ability of GPs to claim MBS items for setting up a shared care record had removed one of the major barriers for the system. “The rest has still to follow,” he said.
Achieving buy-in from specialists, allied health professionals and hospitals is critical, Dr Haikerwal said. Without those groups, GPs will experience much less benefit from the system. “There is no doubt that the other clinical groups are saying ‘well what about us?’”
“That obviously has to be an ongoing discussion with government, but it is a legitimate question,” he added.
Dr Haikerwal noted out there is much more to the discussion than “just money”, saying the nuts and bolts of recruiting patients depends in large part on an ehealth records system that is straightforward to use. “[It] must not be cumbersome, must not be too onerous and must not bring a whole lot of additional barriers. That needs to be smoothed out”, he admitted.
Dr Haikerwal was however quick to point out the overall success of the work that has been done between the announcement of the PCEHR in May 2010 and now. “The building blocks that have taken us along this pathway have now been set to go,” he said. “We can do registration of the professions, we can start getting identifiers, we can start getting people sending messages securely electronically so that by the time we get to the first of July they're used to using technology a bit more, they get a good feel and a good taste and they want to do more.”
On the question of NEHTA’s ongoing role in Australia’s ehealth journey, Dr Haikerwal remarked there should be no “T” in the Authority’s title as transition is no longer what it is about. “A whole new paradigm this is now, not just the planning, building, not just implementing, it's actually about widespread usage and about ongoing development and user support.”
He said the end users are multiple: patients, clinicians and the people who provide the software for them. “So there are multiple roles that are required.” And far from the federal and state layers of government involvement hindering the process, Dr Haikerwal said “I think the beauty of an organisation like NEHTA is that you have all the states and territories and the Commonwealth governments working together in one model.”
Still, the NEHTA Clinical Lead suggested the states could be more supportive compared with their federal counterparts, but also admitted NEHTA also has work to do in this regard: “It’s not as though the states haven’t got an investment to make and we’ve got to be able to show them benefits from doing this.”
“Each state and territory health department has much to gain from this, but they also have to prove their worth to their electorates”, he said.