The Business Council of Australia has called on the federal government to lead an urgent implementation of the national e-health strategy.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister last month and released today, BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey says e-health – that is, using communication technology to improve the flow of health information – is a key to a more efficient health system.
But e-health “will require national leadership and commitment to investment in national infrastructure to make it happen”, the letter says.
Private investment as well as public investment will be needed to make e-health effective, it notes. But before business can begin to invest, state and federal governments must commit to making their own investments in the national infrastructure. Governments must also commit to invest in connecting public health providers to realise the potential benefits for patients and the sector.
The letter is supported by a paper summarising the proposed implementation plan for e-health. It endorses the national e-health strategy adopted by the ministers for health, and the draft implementation plan produced recently by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).
The paper reiterates that the estimated e-health benefits of $27.8 billion in the first eight years of implementation outstrip the costs of e-health investment – $6.3 billion over five years.
The economic imperatives for healthcare reform are set out in the BCA’s Fit for the Job paper, published in March 2009. That paper said Australia’s healthcare services needed to be fully integrated to both provide for patient needs and drive efficiency.