ausvotes-emoji-in-staticAustralia’s peak body for the digital health community, the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA), continues to advocate for investment in e-health and digital innovation for all Australians.

According to Dr Louise Schaper, CEO of HISA opinion polls consistently show that health is one of the top priorities for voters. Consumers expect and deserve to be more involved in their healthcare and they also expect that their health professionals have the right tools and the right information to do their jobs.

“We need to get clever about healthcare delivery. It’s 2016 and yet we still make very little use of the technologies that are available to make healthcare delivery more connected, more efficient, more safe. Along with the NBN roll-out, a robust, forward-thinking approach to e-health and digital innovation is essential to a viable future for Australian healthcare delivery,” Dr Schaper said.

HISA recently called on all major parties to articulate their policy positions on various digital health issues. The Australian Labor Party and the Greens responded.

Through broad consultation with industry stakeholders, a key priority issue that HISA has identified is regulations to incentivise interoperability of health information systems to promote exchange of clinical data.

According to a Labor spokesperson, “a Shorten Labor Government will … pursue a cross-sector Independent Data Council. … [It] would be modelled on New Zealand’s Data Futures Partnership and the United Kingdom’s Open Data Institute and would include experts from government, academia and the private sector. It would be tasked with promoting an optimal open data culture in Australia, supported by appropriate rules and institutions.”

Senator Richard Di Natale said that the Greens “support interoperability to reduce double-up and ensure a higher level of integration between health service providers and jurisdictions”.

HISA also asked the parties if they support changes to the MBS items covering telehealth that would make GP consultations ‘technology neutral’ so that clinicians and patients can choose online consultations rather than only traditional medical consultations.

Labor’s spokesperson said that “new models of primary care will include the design of a uniquely Australian model of patient-centred medical homes – Your Family Doctor. This new model will invest in innovative primary care that draws on new technology, for example the CSIRO pilot home monitoring trial.

“Labor will invest $100 million over two years to establish launch sites in an appropriate mix of metropolitan, regional and rural areas.”

Senator Richard Di Natale said “the Greens are supportive of the use of telehealth services … for patients in rural and remote Australia, those with mobility issues and others in the community who prefer to access services of GPs in this way. We would be interested to examine the impacts of amending MBS payments so that the payment received by GPs was equivalent whether in person or via telehealth.”

In the final days before the election, HISA is calling on voters to carefully scrutinise all parties’ healthcare policies at the polls.

At HISA’s upcoming Health Informatics Conference, 25­–27 July in Melbourne, the Federal Department of Health and the Australian Digital Health Agency will hold a workshop giving attendees a chance to hear about the Australian Digital Health Strategy and provide feedback.

Full copies of policy responses from Labor and the Greens can be found here:

ALP_response to HISA on Digital Health
Greens_response to HISA on Digital Health

For more information:
Ben Zipper, Communications, Marketing and Engagement Director, Health Informatics Society of Australia, mediaAThisa.org.au 03 9326 3311