Melissa Martin, senior market analyst IT Spending & Vertical Markets, at IDC Australia, said
EMR is an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorised clinicians and staff within one healthcare organisation.
While, EHR refers to an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognised interoperability standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorised clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organisation.
Martin told CRN the potential for system integrators is to get this EPR data together from the disparate sources, standards and databases it resides in now - to one record/system.
"SI deployed in hardware and software, and integrated with existing solutions and operation management to run data centres and networks, maintenance and support for the solution," she said.
"Admittedly - the results of the upcoming National Health & Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) Combined with the NBN rollout will provide a huge level of enablement for ICT in Health.
"However, I believe the potential for e-health is still real, irrespective of the NBN."
Martin said for example, other information-centric consumer industries such as telecommunications and financial services have undertaken sustained investment in ICT over the last 10 years.
This investment has enabled companies in these sectors to integrate systems and databases across all parts of their national and global businesses and business partner networks.
"An Australian consumer can use an ATM anywhere around the globe to access their bank accounts. Australian consumers can also seamlessly transfer their telephone and broadband services from one provider to another - all without the benefit of the NBN," she said.
"By contrast, the healthcare sector struggles to share potentially critical patient information amongst SPs within the same state.
"Despite its size, complexity, and information intensiveness, some could say that the health sector has under-invested in ICT."
Based on IDC's current forecasts, ICT spending by the Healthcare sector in Australia is approx $2,121 million in 2009 - with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5 percent until 2012.
Interestingly, healthcare ICT spending in the Asia Pacific region is growing at a CAGR of 9.9 percent.
Martin said 1.5 - 2 percent of the budget of hospitals is spent on ICT in Australia, by comparison, in Singapore 5 percent of the budget of hospitals is spent on ICT.
"However, now we see that Federal and State governments are seriously looking at Health ICT investment," she said.
"Queensland includes $87.1 million in 2009/2010 on clinical systems that will contribute to an EMR, plus a further $86 million for ICT equipment and infrastructure upgrades.
"New South Wales puts a priority on ICT to enhance patient services over the next four years with $63.1 million in 2009/2010 to upgrade business IT including medical imaging and clinical systems."
Martin said the final report from a Federal government perspective on Health ICT investment via the NHHRC will also be released at the end of this month.
"Also we see major vendors specifically targeting the Health ICT market now, for example Microsoft with HealthVault," she said.
"Also Microsoft's upcoming national electronic prescribing project: eRX, intended to create a secure gateway that allows doctors to send scripts to pharmacies online."
The main inhibitor is not that the NBN hasn't come to fruition yet, but the fact that governments are only now seeing the proper potential and investing in health ICT - and the lack of interoperability and standards for the national EPR.
"So exciting times for Health ICT," said Martin.