eHealth – A Case Study in Implementation

What is eHealth?

eHealth is a new initiative launched in the last few months by the Australian Government that will enable individuals and healthcare professionals to access medical records online from various sources.

The touted benefits of this initiative include patients and healthcare professionals being able to gain more immediate access to recent medical and Medicare history, medications, allergies and other important information.

So far, so good.

But, as is often the case with large technology initiatives like eHealth, the implementation doesn’t appear to match the vision…..yet.

How does eHealth work?

Currently, eHealth is accessed from an Australian government website. The idea is that if you hold a ‘my.gov’ account (for example from Medicare or Centrelink) then you can link these all together. Well, at least, that’s the theory….more on this later.

The eHealth initiative is being heavily publicised through Medicare centres and online/television advertising. The focus of the advertising campaign is to encourage people to signup voluntarily.

Only time will tell whether this transitions to a ‘forced signup’ to access continued Medicare support.

At the moment it appears that the only people signing up are the standard early adopters; namely those who will be the first to try anything new. Including myself.

A report in The Australian from April 2013 even suggested that three people have been identified as having signed up with fake details, the reasons for which remain unknown.

The Good?

The theory and vision driving the eHealth initiative is fantastic, and there’s no denying that.

But there’s a mammoth task ahead to encourage the general populous to sign up. Maybe Guy Kawasaki put it best with the quote “A good idea is about 10 percent implementation and hard work, and luck is 90 percent.”

The Bad

Already, some high profile medical industry bodies have reviewed eHealth and voiced their concerns around certain areas of the system (primarily privacy).

Given that as of June 2013 sign ups were well behind government projections, perhaps the population shares some of the same concerns.

My own eHealth signup experience was far from ideal.

Four different errors were encountered before I even managed to set my user name and password.

I can imagine that other consumers who are less ‘early adopting’ or tech savvy would have closed the browser and walked away.

Where to from here?

I still hope and believe that eHealth will prove to be a fantastic initiative that will herald enormous benefits for the Australian community.

Ultimately, only time will tell. But right now there certainly appears to be a gulf between the expectation and the results.