Australia’s foray into connected healthcare brings together a smorgasboard of technology platforms to deliver quality care. These include citizens’ access to portals for information-sharing in an on-line environment.
Among the trends, mobile apps, digital information management, and “digital hospitals” are helping deliver quality care. Connected care will drive the healthcare agenda this decade. This network encompasses public and private hospitals, as well as grass-roots patient care.
But this connectivity is not just about high-profile investments in ICT systems and platforms. It involves connecting people with their personal information, and being able to communicate more readily with caregivers and medical practitioners.
This connectivity empowers patients to manage their personal data and medication — while taking advantage of mobile devices, as well as information downloads over dedicated portals and gateways.
Increasingly, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) technology is helping busy clinicians manage and track workloads across dispersed sites.
Digital record-keeping is transforming the way hospitals manage medical records while migrating paper documents to an on-line environment. Across remote and regional areas, high-speed, fast-access broadband is helping deliver tele-health services while reducing pressures on over-stretched hospitals, and tackling long-distance travel time.
More broadly, funding for connected healthcare is a top priority at the federal and state levels. Recent reforms seek to engage patients in the personal management of healthcare, while delivering integrated services, reducing duplication, and managing the cost of runningICT systems.
These reforms are supported by broad-based funding, and their details are given below:
An integrated Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) offers an ambitious roadmap to e-health services. More than 2,000 healthcare organisations are already registered in the PCEHR system. The tally of PCEHR users peaked at 107,822 during April 2013.
New South Wales
New South Wales will spend nearly AUD 1.5 billion over the next 10 years on modernised healthcare. This investment incorporates mobile apps to track and manage personal information, broadband for telehealth, as well as digital information management, imaging, and voice recognition technology for clinicians.
The state’s 2012–13 budget establishes an e-health and communications technology fund to support service innovation and ICT development. The 2012–13 budget earmarks AUD 100 million over four years for the Victorian Innovation, E-Health and Communications Technology Fund. This fund supports health system innovation and information communication technology projects, including system and software upgrades and installations.
Policy planners are moving to streamline healthcare services. Recently, the administration carried out an audit of health-related services and operations. This review sought to identify potential savings and efficiencies ahead of projected rationalisation of assets and processes.
The government is committing AUD 42.6 million in 2012-13 and AUD 142.6 million over ten years for integrated healthcare projects. These include an enterprise patient administration system, and improvements to electronic record-keeping. South Australia is also rolling out an enterprise system for medical imaging while consolidating imaging services. The state’s e-health initiative also involves setting aside AUD 191.7 million to upgrade and implement IThealthcare systems.
The Department of Health has allocated AUD 5 billion for an ambitious Hospital Building Projects over five years. WA Health is also modernising its network of hospitals and health services. This state department employs 40,000 staff and provides health services to around 2.3 million people in metropolitan, rural and remote areas.
For Tasmania, the federal government has assigned an AUD 37 million e-health funding package as part of an AUD325 million “emergency rescue package” for the state’s health system. This allocation also support a roll-out of the PCEHR across hospitals, while enabling allied health, pathology and diagnostic services to be fully integrated with e-health services.