Feds promise extra $130m for e-health

Prime Minister John Howard has approved an additional $130 million in joint funding to further push electronic health initiatives.

On Friday, February 10 at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, Howard and state premiers announced the funding to create a common language for electronic communications in healthcare and identifying numbers for individuals and healthcare professionals.

As part of the initiative, every one of more than 400,000 healthcare practitioners in Australia will receive a unique identifying number. Creating a common language for electronic communication would not only ensure interoperability and security but aid in Australia's bio-surveillance projects.

COAG also announced commonwealth, state and territory governments will promote compliance with national e-health standards.

Dr Ian Reinecke, CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) said the initiatives will result in rapid progress in e-health.

"The decision is a clear commitment by all Australian governments to reforming outdated communication practices in health," Dr Reinecke said.

"Studies have shown the clear link between avoidable patient deaths and poor communication and record-keeping by healthcare practitioners.

"E-health allows doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to communicate quickly, reliably and securely by electronic means ... these decisions by COAG recognize NEHTA's unique ability to foster consensus amongst governments on e-health matters."

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