eHealth records: there are alternatives to the PCEHR

PCEHR alternatives

When Dr Mukesh Haikerwal tried to connect his Melbourne practice to the PCEHR system, the eHealth records database was offline. He contacted the Department of Health and Ageing and said: “Hey guys, the PCEHR is has crashed!” The answer from the help desk: “No it isn’t.”

Image: other eHealth record solutions in Australia offer advantages over the PCEHR. E.g. the confidential patient data only goes to health providers selected by the patient, and not to the government.

Dr Haikerwal commented in the Sydney Morning Herald: “If the Qantas website was like this, you would say, ‘I will go to the travel agent instead.’” I’d like to mention here that Dr Haikerwal is a clinical lead, meaning that he should get the Rolls Royce treatment from the help desk (clinical leads are also supposed to promote the PCEHR amongst colleagues). If this is the Rolls Royce treatment, then I have no hope whatsoever…

We’re all wondering what the government is doing with the eHealth budget. It appears The Australian knows the answer as it reported last year: “NEHTA has spent part of its $218 million budget on more than 731 functions for stakeholders, including lavish seafood dinners, after-dinner speakers, flights and accommodation in five-star hotels. The authority spent $871,000 on taxi fares in the past two financial years, $118,000 on business-class international airfares and $2.1m in total on travel.”

I need a reliable shared eHealth record system in my practice. A system that makes things easier, not hinders me in my work or creates more risks and liability. The last thing I want is to send all my confidential patient data to an unreliable governmental system, with a help desk that doesn’t seem to listen to health professionals.

Are there alternatives? Interestingly, some regional eHealth solutions are miles ahead of the PCEHR, like RecordPoint, cdmNet and Wedgetail. Health care is mostly regional. Instead of building their own expensive national system, the government should have supported an existing system.

Here are some advantages of RecordPoint’s shared health record system over the PCEHR:

  • Less complex
  • Community based custodian model
  • No data access by government agencies
  • Less liability for health providers and practices
  • Needs & requirements can be customised to local preferences
  • No honey pot for hackers
  • Trialled & tested over many years
  • Better customer service

It will take at least another 2-3 years before the PCEHR is up to speed with these existing systems. If nothing changes the budget will further blow out because the government will be forced to incentivise health professionals to keep using the PCEHR.

What can I say? I’ll just quote Dr Haikerwal again: “If the Qantas website was like this, you would say, ‘I will go to the travel agent instead.’”

Edit 14/04/13 10.40 am: as someone mentioned to me, cdmNet is not a fully-fledged shared record, more a care planning tool.



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