A letter sent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey argues that e-health – using communication technology means to improve the flow of health information – is a key driver of future productivity gains in health.
The letter says 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 ensure that the potential benefits for patients and the sector are realised.
The letter is supported by an eight-page paper that summarises the proposed implementation plan for e-health. It supports and 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 were set out in the BCA’s Fit for the Job paper. That paper said Australia’s healthcare services need to be integrated into a true system in order both to provide for patient needs and to drive efficiency.