Telstra Health has won a $10 million contract from the Western Australian government to roll out a community health information system across the state.
The information system, which will be based on Telstra Health’s Communicare offering – a fully integrated electronic health and practice management system aimed for use in the healthcare industry – will be rolled out in all country areas of the state.
The state’s Health Minister, John Day, revealed on 1 January that the healthcare industry business of Australia’s largest telco had been awarded the contract for the new system, saying that the project would be funded from the $500 million Southern Inland Health Initiative.
"The Community Health Information System will provide an electronic clinical record for patients attending WA Country Health Service's community and primary health centres," Day said in a statement.
"It will help streamline consistent health care across WA, particularly for highly mobile patients and high-risk client groups, and will promote better regional health outcomes," he said.
According to Day, the incoming system will first be introduced in the Kimberley region by May, before being rolled out to the remaining WA Country Health Service regions.
For Day, the rollout is aimed at helping WA close the gap in health outcomes between regional and city residents.
“An important aspect will be the information system's capacity to monitor clinical and practice reforms and thereby promote continuous improvement," Day said.
Telstra is no stranger to the WA healthcare network, having implemented a medical records system in a Perth-based medical facility in late 2015, and winning a $3.2 million contract early the same year for the provision of its iScheduler product to the WA Country Health Service's Statewide Telehealth Service.
The new deal comes six months after Australia’s peak medical lobby group, the Australian Medical Association, raised concerns over the government’s move to award Telstra Health a contract to manage sensitive medical records.
In May 2016, Telstra was awarded the $220 million contract by the Commonwealth Department of Health to deliver and operate the Australian National Cancer Screening Register.
The National Cancer Screening Register is aimed at managing cancer screening for more than 11 million Australians, integrating and extending the existing national bowel cancer register and the eight separate state and territory-based cervical cancer registers.
The five-year contract sees Telstra Health link a number of Government agencies, such as My Health Record and Medicare, and private health providers.
“The register will deliver a single database with one record per patient. People will be able to access their records online and with patient consent, general practitioners and medical specialists will have access to patient data and records from any state or territory from their clinical desktops,” Telstra group executive, international and new businesses, Cynthia Whelan, said at the time.
However, the plan subsequently received criticism, with Labor’s shadow health minister, Catherine King, launching an attack in September last year on the government over its decision to award to Telstra the contract, in addition to the concerns about the deal from the Australian Medical Association.“Labor accepts that this information is necessary for the operation of the register, but we do not accept that Telstra – frankly with a questionable record of privacy breaches – should have Australians’ most private and sensitive health data,” King said at the time.
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