Delimiter 3 July 2013:
As at June 30, the Department of Health and Ageing said that total number of users was 397,745. The majority of these registrations resulted from a recent push by DoHA using consultants to sign people up at public hospitals and at eHealth roadshows.
Still, even if the government had met the target of 500,000, it would have been a meaningless gesture. The vast majority of those who have signed up, if they ever get around to logging in, will be greeted with an empty record. Given the lack of active participation on the part of GPs, as well as the lack of public hospital systems to integrate with PCEHR, there’s little evidence to suggest that this is going to change any time soon.
So far, only 4,805 individual providers have signed up to access the PCEHR portal. This is despite the fact that the government provides incentives to GPs to connect to the system by paying them the Practice Incentive Payments for eHealth (ePIP).
Despite these payments, GPs still struggle to see the benefit of spending time curating shared records when the legal liabilities are still unknown but are potentially severe.
The cost of the ongoing maintenance of these largely empty records is about AUS$80m a year. And that’s just the baseline. It’s clear that a great deal more funding will be needed to try and lift the level of meaningful use of PCEHR.
The problem for governments is that increasing spending on a system becomes progressively harder the longer it remains largely unused. What’s more, the devolved nature of the Australian health system makes it extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see true and meaningful use of the system. What we will continue to see however, are reports of increasing numbers of registrations, data about the number of people who accessed the system and how much administrative data has been added……
Funding for the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system does not extend beyond the end of this financial year, but both federal and state governments appear determined to retain this flawed national database.