Feds cut funding for GP's computing group

The federal government has withdrawn funding to the General Practice Computing Group (GPCG), an IT support body for GPs and clinicians.

Instead, scoping work and development of an e-health record system, known as HealthConnect, will be undertaken by the National E-Health Transition Authority.

The GPCG, which had been in operation for eight years receiving $1 million annually from the government, has vowed to fight on and is seeking financial support from the private sector.

GPCG chair Dr Ron Tomlins fears important clinical input to the HealthConnect project will now be watered down.

"We [GPCG] have been very supportive of HealthConnect as a concept, but the focus that is being taken at the moment does not recognize the contribution clinicians make to the development of policy and programs in implementing large IT experiments. You only need to look at the UK to see how experimental the project is," Tomlins said.

"The issue is not National E-Health Transition Authority as what they do is different to what we have been doing. Our focus is on looking at the issues from a general practice point of view, and while the broader agenda is without doubt important I am not convinced the narrow focus on HealthConnect is necessarily going to pick up all the issues that need to be addressed."

Tomlins added that over the past 12 months the GPCG has developed security guidelines, a firewalls guide and tutorial, six education modules to assist GPs on better use of instant messaging and products to support the software industry in delivering standards-based secure messaging.

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