I Am Wondering Just What is Driving The Comment Stream on the PCEHR Blogs? Are They Just Hoping Against Hope It Will Work?

It seems that in the last 48 hours there have been a number of comments on my remarks on the PCEHR program that I find rather surprising.

It seems, just on a quick browse, that there are many correspondents who are expressing the view that the PCEHR program is much better than doing nothing. I would like to suggest there are much better ways the invest the funds - as highlighted in the blog here:


A little history is in order. The idea for a PCEHR sprang from a report to the National Health and Hospital Commission (NHHRC) that came out late in 2009.

As far as I can tell the PCEHR popped up earlier in 2009.

NHHRC Backs Person-controlled Electronic Health Records

Media Release - 30 April 2009

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) today released a supplementary paper to its Interim Report, which outlines the Commission’s support for person-controlled electronic health records for every Australian.

NHHRC Chair, Dr Christine Bennett, said today that the supplementary paper spells out the Commission’s position that an electronic health record is arguably the single most important enabler of truly person-centred care.

“The timely and accurate communication of pertinent, up-to-date health details of an individual can enhance the quality, safety and continuity of health care,” Dr Bennett said.

“A person-controlled electronic health record would enable people to take a more active role in managing their health and making informed health care decisions.”

According to recent research commissioned by the National Electronic Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), 82 per cent of consumers in Australia support the establishment of an electronic health record.

The Commission has made seven recommendations to make person-controlled electronic health records a reality. These include:

    • By 2012, every Australian should be able to have a personal electronic health record that will at all times be owned and controlled by that person;
    • The Commonwealth Government must legislate to ensure the privacy of a person’s electronic health data, while enabling secure access to the data by the person’s authorised health providers;
    • The Commonwealth Government must introduce unique personal identifiers for health care by 1 July 2010;
    • The Commonwealth Government must develop and implement an appropriate national social marketing strategy to inform consumers and health professionals about the significant benefits and safeguards of the proposed e-health approach; and
    • The Commonwealth Government must mandate that the payment of public and private benefits for all health and aged care services be dependent upon the provision of data to patients, their authorised carers, and their authorised health providers, in a format that can be integrated into a personal electronic health record.

The NHHRC supplementary paper, Person-controlled Electronic Health Records, is available on the NHHRC website at www.nhhrc.org.au under Interim Report of the NHHRC. Feedback can be sent to talkhealth@nhhrc.org.au but must be received by Friday 8 May.

The release is here:


The supplementary paper is found here:


As far as I can tell nothing in the paper demonstrates any proven value in the concept of a PCEHR and the reference provided earlier in the blog today confirms that view.

You can read my detailed negative submission on the whole idea dated May, 2009


As I pointed out then, and re-iterate now, this is an concept which is just not supported by any evidence at present that I am aware of.

Please send the refereed papers along that now confirm the PCEHR concept is a proven one.

Just doing something because it seems like a good idea - and to also plan to spend half a billion dollars in the process - is just not good enough and is appalling process and project management.

This project seems a bit like the NBN that was apparently just made up on the back of an envelope initially and has now grown a life of its own - on very flimsy evidence indeed. I believe there are much better ways to improve Australian E-Health than this nonsense idea.

If any correspondents have evidence that confirms the value of the specific PCEHR proposal - other than to the service providers who hope to deliver it - I look forward to the link!



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