Baird govt promises $300 million for NSW eHealth

Large portion of funds to benefit rural and regional areas

The Liberal government in New South Wales has pledged more investment in eHealth if re-elected on Satuday.

The NSW government under Premier Mike Baird promises to invest $300 million over the next four years, said Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

The package will include $48 million for rural eHealth, $4 million to deploy 100 more telehealth sites in rural and regional areas, and $3.5 million for hospital in the home services in rural areas, which will provide community nurses with laptops and mobile devices, and in-home monitoring devices for patients.

It also includes $4.9 million to roll out HealtheNet to 11 more local health districts. HealtheNet is a network connecting hospitals, GPs and community health providers.

The government didn’t specify what the remaining $239.6 million what go toward.

“To deliver an efficient, integrated health system, we must adopt the latest technologies,” Skinner said.

“For patients this means safer, higher quality, more efficient and better coordinated health care. For staff, this means greater productivity and contemporary resources.”

Skinner said that eHealth has major benefits for rural and remote communities in particular.

“Patients can receive routine consultations or post-operative check-ups via video-links, rather than requiring a round trip of hundreds of kilometres, which is much less stressful,” she said.

In its first term, the Baird government funded new technologies across the state’s 15 local health districts and two specialty networks. The government also developed new clinical systems, including HealtheNet, Electronic Medications Management (eMM) and Electronic Medical Records.

“The days of paper records being lugged around and physically transferred from treating doctor to doctor will soon be behind us,” Skinner said.

“We are upgrading our Electronic Medical Records system by adding voice recognition capacity. Every day in NSW more than 23,000 clinicians log on to 250,000 electronic records and order 140,000 tests, making it Australia’s largest electronic records system.

“The Electronic Medications Management (eMM) system allows us to store information more efficiently and safely.

“This system, which has been piloted at Concord Hospital, has already demonstrated a 66 per cent reduction in prescribing errors and a 44 per cent reduction in serious prescribing errors.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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