Thursday, June 19, 2008

e-health

e-health is a convenient shorthand for national electronic health information. for consumers the electronic tag is important as the electronic/digital element provides the potential to provide consumers and health care providers with accessible up-to date health information of a good quality. however, it is important to recognise that the "e-" is the technology. The technology will allow the data to be easily updated, readily accessed and can assist in achieving better quality and uniformity data. The e-technology will provide the medium and a stimulus for better health information that is more accessible to consumers.

Report on CHF Workshop on “Delivering e-health for consumers”
held in Canberra on 12/13 June 2008



I recently participated in the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) national workshop to discuss electronic health information (e-health), the potential areas of benefit and concern and consumers’ expectations. There were useful sessions that gave participants up-to date information about national strategies, priorities and policies that were being developed in the e-health information realm. These were presented by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the National e-Health Transition Authority and CHF. There was also a valuable session the issues around e-prescribing. These presentations provided a structure for the subsequent debate and discussion.

The workshop promoted discussion on a number of aspects of e-health with the objective of defining a number of activities in the development of national e-health priorities that consumers see as being a priority. The range of consumer foci and priorities around e-health are however diverse and include a personal health record; greater e-health information emphasis on wellness and issues such as environmental conditions; the content of, access to and protection of national e-health information data; the desirability of mandatory participation versus voluntary participation; e-medication summaries; remote prescribing and medication review; e-discharge summaries/plans; e-“save-my-life’ basic health record; e-referrals; e-pathology results and digital imaging.

These issues are ones that were seen as important from a consumer point of view, assisted health care providers in improving care and provided a suitable basis (or building block) on which the broader e-health network can be developed. There was not a unanimous view from the consumer participants at the workshop on some of the issues, for example the voluntary versus mandatory issue and the priority ranking. These are therefore, e-health issues on which consumers may be called to express a view as e-health develops and may need to be better informed.

Tony

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