Victoria’s e-health system may still yield benefits: Experts

According to e-health experts, the state government should continue to patronize Victoria’s $360 million health technology program because it was finally starting to deliver some benefits.

According to Mukesh Haikerwal, who is federal government’s clinical advisor on e-health added that the HealthSMART program may not have been a roaring success but abandoning it now would only mean starting from the scratch to build an electronic system to share patient information in hospitals. There has been news that the state government was considering abandoning the program, which is five years late and $35 million over budget. Health Minister David Davis said the new government faced “a genuine dilemma with the make of the health system.”

Reports show that the HealthSMART was initially due to be completed in 2007 and was supposed to introduce clinical systems for electronic prescribing, ordering tests and reporting results to Victorian hospitals, but those programs are now partially running in just four hospitals.

Dr Haikerwal said one of the problems was that clinicians were not a part of designing the program. Many doctors complained that patient safety is compromised by existing procedures that lead them to duplicate paperwork and chase test results. However the Geelong Hospital had successfully created its own system to share patient histories, test results and medication details across its network and with GPs in the community. “The current government is aware of that and I think they see some solace in the benefits gained at Geelong being delivered on time and in a cost-effective way,” he added.

One of the main benefits was a medication management system now in place at Eastern Health, which includes the Box Hill and Maroondah hospitals. Dr Haikerwal added that now details of patients’ medication could be shared electronically by hospitals, GPs and pharmacists. This would ensure “your in-and-out of hospital care are joined up, they are all speaking the same language and can exchange that clinical information clearly and safely”.

“The trajectory of increased health costs can be contained much better if we have this sort of investment,” he concluded.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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