PCEHR on track for 1 July rollout

The e-health record system will be open for registration on 1 July

The rollout schedule for the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project is currently on track, according to the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA).

DoHA deputy secretary, Rosemary Huxtable, told a Senate committee examining the PCEHR (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 that the “national infrastructure” for the e-health record is currently on track, with Australians being able to register for a PCEHR on 1 July.

“The second release provides the functionality for consumers to register for the PCEHR,” she said. “Design for this release has been substantially completed and is scheduled to be completed prior 1 July 2012.”

However, later in the hearing Huxtable hinted at some doubts in the system being completed by the proposed date, saying that PCEHR will “hopefully be operating from 1 July”.

The confirmation comes amid criticism by the Medical Software Industry Association that the e-health system will be far from finished by 1 July and instead, called for the reduction in complexity and scope of the program.

Security issues concerning the clinical records of patients were also raised during the hearing, in addition to the funding of the $467 million PCEHR project that will be finishing up on 30 June 2012.

“Clearly there is consideration both within government and between governments about our future funding, but I can’t really comment further than that,” Huxtable said. “But yes, we are planning and discussing.”

Huxtable also said the government was looking into restructuring the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) in two years, which in its current state is vested within the commonwealth.

“Where there is the capacity to hold and provide governance over health information and private health information, the view was that it should be vested in to the sort of protections of the government rather than in a company-type structure,” she said.

“The reality is to move to a more jurisdictionally statutory authorities is probably a fairly time-consuming development process where you’re looking at what’s the sort of legislative requirements that not only cover the commonwealth, but also the states and territories.

“The legislation certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of moving more into a jurisdictionally statutory authority-type governance structure and does in fact require a review of the functions, et cetera within two years. But the value of the responsibility that is vested within the commonwealth and within the department is subject to all the requirements of commonwealth law in terms of agency.”

DoHA today confirmed a figure has been finalised for the next round of funding for the PCEHR to 30 June 2012, which will be published soon.

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