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Australian State Government Unveils US$1.5 Billion eHealth Agenda
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Friday, June 22, 2012
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Australia
Created: Jun 26, 2012

The government of New South Wales, Australia, has unveiled a US$1.5 billion (AUD$1.5 billion) eHealth agenda to deliver 21st century healthcare across the state. This initiative, spearheaded by NSW Health, is supported by a raft of technology investments over 10 years – taking the state into the forefront of healthcare reforms. The state government’s spending agenda was outlined at an inaugural FutureGov Forum NSW (21st June) by the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner. Minister Skinner told delegates the state is fast-tracking improvements to healthcare – while tapping into the latest technology. Better healthcare services are supported by smart apps, tablets, digital imaging, and voice recognition technology, among other platforms. The state government is investing in electronic medication and records management systems, clinical information management systems, and tele-health services that connect patients in regional and rural areas. These initiatives reflect a commitment to integrating technology with improvements to healthcare, Minister Skinner said.

Major technology projects include a US$170 million (AUD$170 million) investment in an electronic medications management system. This platform will help prevent errors, while reducing adverse effects from drugs. A US$85 million (AUD$85 million) electronic medical records system is streamlining patient tracking, clinical documentation, scheduling and reporting across wide-ranging clinical specialities. The state government is allocating US$43 million (AUD$43 million) on clinical information management systems. These systems offer a single point to collate data for clinicians in intensive care units. “Evidence shows clinical safety risks can be reduced or even eliminated by integrating patient diagnostic, medication and medical history into a single, accessible electronic record,” Minister Skinner said. She noted that technology does not substitute for high-quality care provided by clinicians. “Rather it enhances it. Providing those same clinicians with the modern tools and information they need, when they need it, enables them to achieve so much more for their patients.”

Among recent projects, smart apps and tablets are being used to provide instant access to clinical research and digital medical libraries. This real-time access is streamlining information-sharing between clinicians. Telehealth services connect patients across rural and regional NSW. These services offer “face-to-face” access to specialist care across capital cities and internationally. Voice recognition technology has freed up clinicians’ time in emergency departments. This technology is helping clinicians focus on more immediate patient care. In other areas, healthcare practitioners are tapping into instant digital imaging technology. These images can be reviewed and reported by specialist doctors before patients return to their wards. Digital imaging technology has slashed the waiting time for results – while delivering speedier treatment. Electronic health record-keeping trials are underway. These trials, when fully operational, will revolutionise the speed and accuracy with which medical information is shared between hospital wards, patients and GPs.
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