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$30 million for patient care and improved electronic records.



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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

3 June 2003

$30 MILLION FOR PATIENT CARE AND IMPROVED ELECTRONIC RECORDS

Accredited GPs were given an average of $6800 to help them develop or upgrade their electronic patient records and enable them to spend more time with their patients, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Patterson said today.

The Government last month gave $30 million from within the existing Practice Incentive Program (PIP) to assist GPs, who were accredited, to record vital patient information in an electronic format while reducing paperwork and ensuring all information was protected by strong privacy protocols.

Senator Patterson said: "This money will help doctors easily access up-to-date information about their patients' health status and history and will help identify which patients would benefit from health prevention activities and make follow-up with patients easier."

She said the money for the GPs was well spent because it would streamline electronic record keeping and help doctors to spend more time with their patients instead of being caught up with paperwork.

Senator Patterson rejected claims by the Opposition that the money was a handout.

It was targeted to accredited practices, which had met all the standards to be eligible for PIP payments, and gives financial encouragement to doctors to deliver quality health outcomes for patients.

The money was already allocated in last year's Budget to the doctors for PIP payments.

The GP Computing Group has welcomed the Federal Government's $30 million fund allocation.

The GPCG chairman Dr Ron Tomlins said the payment would help doctors reduce red tape by increasing the use of electronic patient records.

Senator Patterson said that the payment recognised those doctors who had already taken steps to establish electronic patient records and they could use the money for further development of their record keeping.

It was also an encouragement for other doctors to set up electronic record systems in their practices.

Senator Patterson said the GPs would be eligible for a second payment. Their progress would be measured to ensure that they had made progress in improving their electronic patient records.

"In this way the accredited GPs will be accountable. However, we have done this in a way to ensure minimal paper work and red tape to ensure doctors can spend more time with their patients," she said.

Media inquiries: Randal Markey Media Adviser, Senator Patterson's office, 02 6277 7220.