Sunday, April 22, 2012

The 2012 Budget Will Be Critical for E-Health. What Will Happen Is Anyone’s Guess.

The Federal Budget for 2012/2013 is due to be released in May 8, 2012. That is just 15 days away.
There are a number of reasons why it will be critical for e-Health going forward.
As background we know.
1. The Government is desperate to achieve a Budget Surplus and this will mean about $40 Billion in savings are needed as opposed to 2011/2012.
2. This is a fiscal contraction of the order of 2% of GDP and so it will hurt - no matter how executed and what attempts are made to diminish the impact.
3. There are a lot of smart economists that it might be more sensible to say just bring the deficit down to $20 Billion this year and then finish the job the year after to avoid too much pain.
From a specific e-Health perspective we know.
1. Funding for the NEHRS comes to a sudden end June 30, 2012 unless renewed.
2. Funding for associated infrastructure, the wave sites and so on has the same drop dead date.
3. NEHTA’s annual budget of about $100 Million also stops at June, 30, 2012 unless renewed.
4. At the last Council of Australian Government meeting a week or two back there was no mention of e-Health or NEHTA.
Here are the links to what was decided:

Council of Australian Governments Meeting - 13 April 2012, Canberra

COAG Communiqué

Related Documents

Themes of Strategic Importance

Skills Reform

Progress on Seamless National Economy Reforms

Mental Health Reform

Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Annual Report

Review of National Agreements and National Partnership Agreements

Last Updated:  16 April, 2012
This is the web site:
Simply not a mention of e-Health or anything even close. Given there seem to be only 2-3 meetings a year which could fund NEHTA (It is a joint State / Federal effort) the signs for June 30 can’t be seen as great unless NEHTA is suddenly going to be transferred to the Federal Budget.
It seems to me that to have the basic infrastructure work continue (Identifiers, NASH, SNOMED, AMT, Supply Chain etc.) that $50-100 million p.a. is needed.
To press on with the NEHRS (Wave Sites, Clinician Incentive Payments, Software Vendor Payments, NASH Tokens and so on) there has to be another $100 million +.
To see an overall $200 million p.a. being provided - without business cases and any evidence of the e-Health program having actually made a difference - in these difficult times seems a pretty big ask.
Frankly I don’t think it will happen. What do others think?
David.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to think Minister Plibersek has got a handle on the monumental wastage that is NEHTA and has told her Departmental Head Ms Halton that enough is enough. Chop and allocate some selective funding to some less ambitious ehealth projects. However, after reading this weekend's Australian "Plibersek defends script alert system" one has to assume the Department has her well and truly under the thumb.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that eHealth needs funding, but they could cut out the NEHTA and Wave budgets and get rid of the entire eHealth branch of DOHA and everyone would win, well at least the public would win and eHealth would win as we are going no where fast at the moment with these eHealth masters of the universe in charge.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't NEHTA funding come under the COAG Standing Council on Health now? http://www.ahmac.gov.au/site/home.aspx - read the fine print on what they look after.

This would mean that NEHTA's future would not be part of a plenary meeting of COAG members.

As much as eHealth might be the most important thing for some, there must be dozens of other statutory bodies in other fields who now find that they never get a slot at the tri-annual COAG meetings either.

Dr David More MB PhD FACHI said...

You may be right but in the past there has usually been a couple of lines in the main meeting communique when funding decisions have been taken.

Reading the Standing Council Role it does not seem to specifically go to funding issues for e-health but does plan shares of funding for it as I read it.

Notably there is no communique since August 2011. I wonder what that means. They act in secret or don't meet often.

David.