Snapshots: PCEHR funding / goodbye TUSMA / Office of the Privacy Commissioner established

2014 budget snapshots

$140m for eHealth

The federal government has set aside $140 million in the budget for the operation of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and to support other eHealth measures

The government "continues to work with stakeholders with regard to the recommendations from the recent PCEHR review to determine how best to proceed. The Government is committed to supporting improved productivity across the health sector and greater convenience for providers and patients," budget papers state.

"Implementation issues have plagued the PCEHR from day one, but the Abbott Government will get it back on track so that it provides real benefits to patients and health professionals alike," said a statement issued by the office federal health minister, Peter Dutton.

Most clinicians are not using the system, the statement said.

The government last year launched an inquiry into the rollout of the PCEHR, with Dutton at the time claiming the system had "wasted over a billion dollars".

The report was received by the minister in December, but it has not publicly released yet.

Issues considered by the review included "future role of the private sector in providing solutions" and the "policy settings required to generate private sector solutions".

"The PCEHR review identified key flaws in the current design and implementation of the PCEHR, and made some significant recommendations to improve the system," the statement issued today said.

"The Government will continue to consider the recommendations over the coming months to understand the issues, their implications and the best ways to deliver on the intended outcomes."

Goodbye TUSMA

The government will shut down the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency — TUSMA — the budget revealed.

TUSMA was established in July 2012 to oversee the Universal Service Obligation that ensures all Australians have access to telephone services.

Recently the organisation has been working with Retail Service Providers (the NBN's equivalent of ISPs) to inform residents in NBN-connected area about the transition away from the copper network.

TUSMA's role will be taken on by the Department of Communications.

The move to roll the micro-agency into the department received support from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Communications Alliance.

"The abolition of TUSMA and incorporation of its functions into the Department of Communications is a sensible step and formed part of Communications Alliance’s deregulatory submissions to government," a statement from the Comms Alliance said.

"TUSMA has played an important role ensuring voice-only customers are migrated to the NBN as well as administering the tender process for the National Relay Service," ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said.

"We're confident the Department of Communications will continue with these key roles and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the transition."

Office of the Privacy Commissioner established

The government will establish from the start of 2015 a new organisation called the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The watchdog body takes over the Privacy Act related functions of the current Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

"From 1 January 2015 the OAIC’s status as a Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 agency will cease and funding for ongoing functions will be transferred to other agencies," budget papers state.

The OAIC's Freedom of Information review powers will be handed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; FOI complains will be handled by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The OAIC's current role in publishing FOI guidelines and compiling FOI statistics will be rolled into the Attorney-General's Department.

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Tags privacyfreedom of informationprivacy actehealthPCEHRPersonally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)OAICTUSMABudget 2014-15

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