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Future of e-health hinges on election result

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Future of e-health hinges on election result

E-health is one key health policy area that is likely to take a significantly different path depending on who wins the federal election.

We know the Labor vision because they are in government and the Department of Health and Ageing is implementing their vision.

However, Dr Andrew Southcott, the opposition e-health spokesperson, has made it very clear that if the coalition wins the election a very different path will be taken.

The Guild has used e-health to accentuate the value add that community pharmacy can provide the health sector and our patients. E-Health will embed the role of the pharmacist in the health system.

There is one key government e-Health report that is currently being revisited and any revised outcomes will hopefully highlight the success of community pharmacy in e-Health with hopefully recommendations of a higher profile role for pharmacists and our sector moving forward.

In early 2008, Australian Health Ministers, through the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council, commissioned Deloitte to develop a strategic framework and plan to guide national coordination and collaboration in E-Health.

The National E-Health Strategy developed by Deloitte provided a guide to the development of E-Health in Australia.

The first key recommendation was to leverage what currently exists in the Australian E-Health landscape. For pharmacy there was very little in place but since that time through the work of the Guild and eRx we now have achieved a stunning 3.5 million e-health prescription records per week as eScripts.

The second recommendation was to manage the underlying variation in capacity across the health sector and states and territories. Nothing highlights the difference more than the difference between doctors and pharmacists and their respective rate of adaptation to e-Health.

The third point was to allow scope for change as lessons are learned and technology is developed further. It is now 2013 and with the low uptake of the PCEHR because of doctor inaction and with the lack of a narrative for patients to embrace e-health, it is now time for a chance and a change that acknowledges a key future role for community pharmacy.

I am delighted that Deloitte was again recently commissioned to work on the 2013 refreshed version of the National Health Strategy for the Department of Health and Ageing.

They set up a series of national consultation sessions with key stakeholders within the Australian health sector and that obviously includes the Guild. The intent of these sessions was to gain input from across the health sector to feed into the development of the updated National e-Health Strategy.

From a Guild perspective a great deal has changed since 2008 and that must take into account. The progress the Guild has undertaken on behalf of community pharmacy must be acknowledged and further work nurtured. I am always surprised at the blockages the Guild faced and continues to face.

One hopes future priorities and directions listed by Deloitte place community pharmacy in a strong position independent of who wins the Federal election.


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