Accelerating eHealth through national infrastructure and leadership
In part, the program was intended to create greater equity between the federal governments and the individual states and territories. But it was also expected to tackle some of the challenges in treating chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. According to its five strategic priorities, NEHTA aims to deliver, establish and enhance the essential foundations of eHealth; coordinate the progress of key eHealth initiatives; and accelerate national adoption of the program.
One of the more immediate benefits of NEHTA has been the ability to provide leadership and a national focus on implementing eHealth. The organization has also accelerated the development of national eHealth infrastructure and, as a result, has effectively shifted the national focus from using a range of different products across the system to “full end-to-end interoperability based on national standards,” according to Stephen Moo, CIO of the Northern Territory.
NEHTA and its partners have learned several lessons along the way. Echoing the basic premise of collaborative alignment, the program found that engaging with all stakeholders was critical to ensuring that technology is adopted and fully utilized. In the Northern Territory, for example, a ‘consumer registration team’ worked closely with the community to encourage user adoption, and has resulted in a 70 percent coverage of the target population. At the same time, clinician commitment was encouraged through dedicated clinical engagement teams who focus on making sure professionals understand the benefits of the system in terms of enhancing their clinical practice.
Where will NEHTA take the program from here? According to John Zelcer, Head of Strategy for NEHTA, the program has “significant capacity to drive improvements in the delivery of safer, quality healthcare for many years.”