Telstra and Australia's General Practices reach agreement in e-health reform

17:07, July 08, 2010      

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Australian General Practices (GPs) and telecommunication company, Telstra on Thursday reached an agreement on the roll-out of "critical first step" e-health reforms.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with the telecommunication giant, outlining a range of hi-tech services to be brought online from next year.

The first would allow the nation's 17,200 GPs to access health care applications, diagnostic tools and an array of other clinical and administrative software programs using a "single log-on" web service.

"A web-hosted service will make GPs lives easier (allowing them to) access applications from anywhere - from their practices, homes, hospitals or aged care facilities," RACGP president Dr Chris Mitchell said in a statement on Thursday.

"GPs are busy and the implementation of a national e-health strategy might seem daunting, however ... this collaboration will make it easy for general practice to take advantage of the new technology we now have available."

The web service, to be operating from July next year, would also end the current need for clinics to each purchase their own copy of the software used by their GPs.

The agreement follows the passage of the Healthcare Identifiers Bill through the federal parliament, legislation that underpins Labor's plan to create personal electronic health records.

Telstra Business Group managing director Deena Shiff said GPs first needed secure methods of dealing with this patient data online, and this work could now get underway.

"We will work together to lay the foundations Australia needs to accelerate take-up of e-health solutions including patient identification, secure messaging and records storage," Shiff said.

"These capabilities are a critical first step in the evolution of a national e-health record for Australians."

Meanwhile, the Federal government on Thursday formally laid out a two-year timetable for delivering e-health to all Australians.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon indicated that the government will deliver the online portal that would allow patients access to their e-health records by July 2012.

Source: Xinhua


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