Psychologists call for funds to assist with e-health roll out

Psychologists and other allied health providers require assistance to become e-health compliant in time for the program launch, scheduled for July 1, according to the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

GPs have already received funding to assist with implementation costs and will receive some funding for the administration of the electronic health records.

But Mr David Stokes, APS executive manager of Professional Practice, said that allied health professionals including psychologists also needed assistance to ensure multidisciplinary care was delivered and to ensure the viability of the personally controlled health care record (PECHR) system.

Mr Stokes - also a Clinical Lead for the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), representing Allied Health - said: “The whole initiative is underpinned by the idea that relevant health service providers can access the system to upload reports or letters at their patient’s request and review relevant information to enhance care.  Crucial to the program’s success will be the ability of all those involved in that patient’s care to use the system.”

“Unfortunately, many psychologists and relevant health providers will struggle to afford the relevant software and hardware without some funding support.”

The APS call follows the recent request by the Australian Physiotherapy Association for funding to assist physiotherapists to prepare for the e-health system.

The costs for software alone has been estimated at $3,000 for each provider, and the transfer of records into the electronic system is also expected to create a significant burden for psychologists, many of whom work in small private practices.

Mr Stokes said multidisciplinary care and information sharing between psychologists, GPs and a range of other health providers was vital to ensure the highest standards of care. 

Psychologists are crucially involved with providing mental health care and with the provision of psychological services to assist people with chronic disease, such as diabetes.

“By supporting psychologists and relevant health providers to prepare for the e-health system the Government can ensure its efficacy and success.   The more efficient the system, the greater the savings in health costs that will be made because the result is more tailored and effective care.”

 “All health providers involved must have access to the e-health software in order for the program to work.  Such funding is an investment in better health care for Australians,” Mr Stokes said.

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The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 20,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples’ lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.