WCC2010: E-health to be held back by doctors?

Technophobic healthcare practitioners along with immature technology could be preventing the accelerated rollout of e-health in Australia, according to one e-health industry expert.

Speaking at the World Computer Congress 2010 in Brisbane, John Neville from Data Agility, a provider of e-health technology, said while e-health records will be a natural progression, the challenges on the road ahead will be intense.

“The science of IT is nowhere near as mature as the science of medicine, and doctors don’t trust IT systems,” he said.

"If you want to implement a medication management system into a hospital that in any way, shape or form gives guidance, provides decision support or tells a doctor what to prescribe, you better be very, very sure that the science behind that system is more robust than the science behind the doctor's brain."

Neville said an under investment in technology could be another inhibitor to the slow uptake in the e-health sector.

“Currently we’re looking in Victoria at an order of $10 million to $15 million for IT systems, and this can only come from the federal government and not the state level," he said.

“There’s been a massive under investment in IT, and at the hospital level this is really evident. IT departments need to find this out of day to day operations expenditure.”

Neville said another challenge tied to e-health could be a change in who owns e-health records.

“There is the potential to change the ownership of information from the patient to the provider. This provides a significant business model challenge around information and where it can be used,” he said.

A joint effort between the state and federal government is important to the future of e-health, with Neville saying funding should be financed from a federal level, and procurement should be initiated at the state level.

Neville said providing IT systems with easy navigation is important, but so too is integration with other systems in hospitals and other facilities.

“Most of the things we use in hospitals are computers, but if they look like medical equipment rather than IT equipment, they won’t be left in the corner,” he said.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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