eHealth has become an increasingly significant part of healthcare.

Starting with electronic records and emails, moving onto video consultations and secure messaging, and into apps and artificial intelligence, eHealth is ever evolving.

It is often seen as a way of making healthcare better, safer and more efficient.

It can do all those things, but only if done right.  This is where important issues of usability, practicality, clinical usefulness and reasonable expectations come into play.

This is why MIGA advocates on eHealth, most recently in the Australian Digital Health Agency’s consultation on a national health interoperability roadmap.  We have argued for augmenting and connecting existing eHealth systems to improve their operation, usefulness and uptake, and recognising the central role of doctors and other health professionals in eHealth design and development.

The scale of ambition, scope and purpose of an eHealth initiative can be an issue and potentially detract from important benefits it offers.  For example, My Health Record has inherent limitations, but can make some important clinical information more easily available.

What might seem relatively simple and limited initiatives can be important ones.  Granting Queensland online access to key public hospital records, an initiative supported by MIGA, allowed many GPs to access important information quickly.

Real-time prescribing systems are an important part of managing high risk medications, particularly opioids.  However it is imperative the systems are practical and easy to use, without unfair penalties for doctors who make mistakes using them.  These are issues we recently raised in a Queensland inquiry into prescription medication reforms.

The South Australian EPAS public hospital eHealth system is a recent example of challenges MIGA has seen its members face with eHealth record systems.   To the EPAS review we highlighted concerns with navigation, time burdens, record availability and communication, explaining the medico-legal and safety issues these can cause.

We appreciate the huge gains that can be made in eHealth and understand the risks that can surround these projects.  Our advocacy work on eHealth will continue, but if you have an interest in these issues, or would like to know more about our work, we encourage you to contact us.

Other resources

  1. My Health Record inquiry

    MIGA’s submission to the Senate My Health Record inquiry

  2. Queensland GP online access to public hospital records

    MIGA’s submission to a parliamentary inquiry

  3. Pulse IT article

    GP Access to The Viewer a ‘game-changer’ for Queensland GPs

  4. Opioid use and misuse

    MIGA’s submission to the TGA consultation

  5. Queensland inquiry into prescription medication reforms

    MIGA’s submission

  6. Queensland inquiry into prescription medication reforms

    Inquiry evidence

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