Govt to probe e-health record's rollout

Review to examine possible private sector role for PCEHR

The former Labor government's rollout of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record "has wasted over a billion dollars," according to federal health minister Peter Dutton.

Dutton yesterday announced a review into the current status and future of the PCEHR program. The review will be led by Richard Royle, executive director of the UnitingCare Health group in Queensland and vice-president of the Australian Private Hospitals Association.

Working with Royle will be AMA chief Dr Steve Hambleton and Australia Post CIO Andrew Walduck.

In a statement Dutton said that the federal Coalition government backs the concept of electronic health records, but a e-health record system "must be fit for purpose and cost effective."

By the end of July this year, one year since the PCHER was launched, just north of 610,000 Australians had registered to take part in the system. The rollout has not been well-received by many GPs.

An international survey conducted earlier this year found that Australian doctors were more resistant to allowing patients full control over their electronic health records than many of their international counterparts.

However, the survey, conducted by Accenture and covering 500 Australian medical practitioners, also found that most Australian doctors believed that electronic sharing of health records reduced errors.

The PCEHR review is due to report to Dutton by the middle of next month. Its terms of reference include examining the uptake and barriers to uptake of the system, as well the "future role of the private sector in providing solutions" and the "policy settings required to generate private sector solutions".

In the leadup to the federal election Coalition leader Tony Abbott indicated he would seek a review of the PCEHR.

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