Electronic Health Records should be regarded as Infrastructure Investments

The Abbott Government has committed over $11 Billion to roads and Mr Abbott has himself declared that he wants to be the infrastructure PM.

This is all well and good. Roads are important – especially given the weekend gridlock in Australian capital cities…..and we all know Rome was built on roads, and not in a day.

But is this 21st century infrastructure?

Health is flagged as one of the major sources of growing expenditure yet there is no investment, only disinvestment (at least from the States), and taxation.

On of the major things a Government could do to reduce duplication, waste and unwarranted clinical variation would be to introduce widespread use of electronic health records. These would serve the purpose of recording each individual’s medical history and provide a platform for communication of health information between medical providers. Furthermore, if properly implemented, the record becomes a system for documenting healthcare resource use which would in term allow for better planning as as well as quality and safety improvements.

But health records don’t seem tangible infrastructure?

Well if this is the case then what the heck is the National Broadband Network….a system for more rapid distribution of Instagram pictures of cute cats?

Electronic health records need to been urgently regarded as critical infrastructure for Australia. I don’t actually care if the Commonwealth doesn’t control it providing it provides funds for the States to implement it properly rather than in a piecemeal fashion. Or alternately, if we bypassed the traditional Federalist approach we could genuinely have a system that is National and timely, rather than 6 or 7 approaches that need to be harmonised.

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