Above: Vittorio Cintio, president of Allied Health Professions Ausrtralia.

Allied health professionals need incentive payments to encourage their participation in the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) program, according to national peak body, Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA).

AHPA president Vittorio Cintio has commended the overall objective of the PCEHR legislation, which he said would give consumers more control over their health information and allow healthcare providers quicker and in some cases, shared access to patient records. 

But he wants the government to provide support for allied health professionals to be able to participate in the eHealth system, just like it does for GPs.

“The federal government already provides general practices with crucial incentives to assist them to set up necessary electronic systems and enable them to participate in such initiatives,” Mr Cintio said. “However, these incentives are not available to allied health professionals,” 

“This means that many of them must meet these costs associated with this important eHealth initiative, in order to contribute to the overall health outcomes of consumers.”

 “Until the federal government provides allied health professionals with the same incentives as they provide to general practitioners, most consumers will fail to receive the maximum benefits from the PCEHR program.” 

Improved coordination of multidisciplinary healthcare and better management of chronic diseases are among the key benefits expected to come from PCEHR implementation, especially in aged care.

Mr Cintio said that allied health professionals were vital members of the multidisciplinary team, particularly for people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. 

“Allied health professionals comprise 20 per cent of Australia’s health workforce – far more than doctors,” he said.

“It is inconceivable that the federal government continues to overlook these highly trained and valuable people, particularly in a time when we have an ageing population with a rapidly increasing incidence of chronic disease, often requiring healthcare services from a range of allied health professions.”

“The government needs to recognise this and understand that allied health professionals too are at the core of a strong healthcare system.” 

The AHPA president said most Australians see an allied health professional for treatment at some stage and that these health professionals need to be able to participate in the PCEHR program to ensure consumers receive the maximum benefit of their healthcare team members working together. 

“Consumers who wish to participate in the program would expect their key health care providers to be able to access their records. This represents a large investment in terms of time on the part of allied health professionals. 

“If the Government cannot provide sufficient incentives to enable them to participate, the PCEHR program will be severely limited.” 

Mr Cintio said that AHPA, the peak national body for allied health professions, would continue to call on the Government to provide comparable incentives to allied health to allow them to provide appropriate healthcare to the highest standards.

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