Australian e-health system would prevent deaths: report

21:53, May 06, 2010      

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Australian federal government's plan to give every patient and doctor a unique e-health record would save the Australian health system 7.6 billion dollars (6.86 billion U.S. dollars) a year and prevent 5,000 deaths, a report said on Thursday.

The roll out of a nationwide electronic health identifier system would reduce errors caused by uninformed doctors giving patients the wrong drugs, an analysis by U.S. management consultancy Booz and Company found.

The report has estimated the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission's proposed e-health model would save 7.6 billion dollars (6.86 billion U.S. dollars) a year by 2020.

More than a third of this amount, 2.8 billion dollars (2.52 billion U.S. dollars), would come from a reduction in errors.

An e-health system would also prevent an estimated 5,000 deaths in Australia every year, the report said.

Report co-author Klaus Boehncke said many deaths were caused by doctors giving the wrong drugs because they were unaware of a patient's medical history.

"There are a lot of studies that correlate - there are real issues for Australia," Boehncke told Australian Associated Press.

"If you don't have the full information about a patient, it's hard to make the right choice."

His report has cited Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association data showing one in 10 Australian patients treated every year by a General Practice were given the wrong drugs, resulting in up to 18,000 deaths.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has introduced legislation to the lower house of parliament in February to set up an Australian healthcare identifier system.

Boehncke said the government's flagged health reforms, including a four-hour emergency waiting and treatment times, would depend on e-health records.

E-health records have been used in the United States, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The government wanted the e-health program to begin in July 2012.

Source: Xinhua


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