Summary of the National E-Health Strategy

5. E-Health Outcomes

This document is the Summary of the National E-Health Strategy

Page last updated: 02 December 2009

5.1 E-Health Implementation Targets
5.2 E-Health Benefits

5.1 E-Health Implementation Targets

The national E-Health strategy identifies indicative targets for the advancement of E-Health adoption across consumers, care providers, health care managers and vendors over the next 10 years. Achieving these targets will mean that Australia will have realised substantial improvements in the way health information is used to deliver safer, more effective and more efficient health care.

In 10 years time, we will be able to measure the success of the national E-Health strategy for each of the key stakeholder groups as follows.

Consumers

• Online interaction with the health sector has become commonplace. Rollout out of consumer identifiers is complete and high speed broadband connectivity is available to 98% of Australian consumers
• Consumer adoption of IEHRs has been driven to a tipping point, particularly among high priority consumer segments such as mothers and infants, those suffering chronic disease and the elderly. Over 90% of consumers, or their carers, have access to an individual electronic health record and over 50% actively access and use these records to manage their health and interact with the health system
• Consumers increasingly find their interactions with care provider are supported by E-Health. Electronic communication of health information is commonplace with over 80% of prescriptions, test orders/results and referrals being performed electronically
• Up to 20% of consultations use electronic consultation or telehealth capabilities
• The National Consumer Portal is viewed as a world class source of comprehensive and up to date health information and also provides access to IEHR information from organisations such as Medicare.

Care Providers

• The rollout of national identifiers is complete and they are being used for over 90% interactions between consumers and care providers. Broadband connectivity is available to all Australian care providers
• Over 95% of Australian care providers have appropriate levels of computing infrastructure in place to support the electronic exchange of health information. Maintenance of an acceptable baseline of physical computing infrastructure has been made a care provider accreditation requirement with criteria and accreditation processes in place
• Professional responsibilities for electronically collecting and sharing health information have been fully adopted by care provider practices and organisations and have been embedded in professional accreditation requirements
• Over 90% of care providers have adopted and are utilising standards compliant patient, clinical and practice management systems that support E-Health priority solutions such as the electronic transfer of prescriptions, test orders/results, referrals and event summaries
• The National Clinician Portal is viewed as a world class source of comprehensive and up to date clinical treatment and evidence information
• Care provider IT and health informatics education programs have been established and are producing a new breed of technology aware health care practitioners who understand the value and use of E-Health solutions. Specific qualifications are recognised for health informatics professionals.

Health Care Managers

• Health Care Managers have access to high quality, comprehensive longitudinal and aggregated datasets for improved analysis, decision making and research
• Health Care Managers utilise sophisticated data reporting and analysis tools which support the real time monitoring of Australian health system activities and outcomes
• The vast majority of reporting data is collected through normal E-Health enabled care delivery processes and a significant consolidation and rationalisation of data collections has been completed.

Vendors

• Vendors have a clearly defined and stable set of national E-Health standards on which to base product development. 100% of vendors in the Australian marketplace are delivering E-Health standards compliant solutions
• Vendors are bringing scalable and E-Health standards compliant solutions to market more quickly. The majority of vendors have twice yearly enhancement cycles that are aligned with national E-Health standards and priorities.
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5.2 E-Health Benefits

There is a growing amount of local and international research available to highlight the potentially important role E-Health may play in delivering Australians a higher quality, safer, more equitable and more efficient health system. From a macro, top down perspective, EHealth should be considered a means to potentially address the ever increasing costs of Australian health care. With the proportion of health care spending as a proportion of Australian GDP expected to grow from 9% today to an estimated 16 to 20% of GDP by 2045, any ability to constrain growing health care costs will directly support the future sustainability of the Australian health care system.

A nationally coordinated approach to E-Health will contribute to this outcome by improving the capacity of the Australian health system to do more with existing resources and by enabling these resources to be deployed against real need. This will result from improving system quality and safety (and therefore reducing avoidable demand for health care services), improving system accessibility and improving system processing and cost efficiency.

E-Health will improve the quality and safety of the Australian health system by:
• Empowering consumers to better manage their own health
• Providing care providers with access to decision support tools and up to date consumer information and knowledge sources at the point of care
• Reducing the number of medically avoidable adverse events
• Providing care providers and health care managers with access to better quality datasets of treatment effectiveness
• Supporting care providers with the ability to automatically monitor individual care plans and health status
• Providing health care managers with access to timely and comprehensive data to enable the more effective surveillance and management of public health.

E-Health will support a more accessible and equitable health system by:
• Providing consumers with better visibility of the location of care providers, the services offered and their availability
• Allowing care providers to readily know who and where other providers are located to facilitate referrals and timely access to care
• Providing rural, remote and disadvantaged communities with better access to a range of health care services through the use of technologies such as telehealth
• Supporting health care managers with access to quality data sources to inform service and workforce planning.

E-Health will improve system efficiency by:
• Reducing the time consumers and care providers spend manually booking appointments, ordering treatments, and repeating and sharing information across the health sector
• Reducing the time and cost spent undertaking unnecessary or duplicated treatment activities such as diagnostic tests
• Reducing the time and cost spent addressing avoidable medical errors or avoidable degradation of chronic conditions
• Reducing the amount of required travel to / from rural and remote communities
• Enabling health care managers to more effectively identify and address system inefficiencies.

The ultimate benefit achieved from implementation of a national E-Health strategy will be a safer and more sustainable health system that is suitably equipped to respond to emerging health sector cost and demand pressures. Improvements in the Australian health care system will also drive stronger workforce productivity and will therefore be integral to Australia’s long run economic prosperity. The biggest challenge facing the nation is therefore to decide where to spend on E-Health rather than how much.

The stakeholders engaged in the development of the E-Health strategy have created a workable plan that defines the major initial steps that Australia should take on the E-Health journey. The E-Health strategy is pragmatic, balances different priorities and will lead Australia towards the delivery of a safer, better connected and more sustainable health care system.
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