Federal government revamps IT payment systems for health

The Department of Health is seeking industry request for proposals (RFP) to revamp IT systems that support health, aged care and related veterans’ payments.

The Department of Health is seeking industry request for proposals (RFP) to revamp IT systems that support health, aged care and related veterans’ payments.

The Australian government has moved to modernise IT systems that support health, aged care, and veterans’ payments under an RFP from the Department of Health. 

This latest RFP, due to close 4th April, will see a full-scale modernisation of wide-ranging IT systems. Future payments systems will leverage digital services and integration, among other emerging platforms.

Each year the federal government makes more than 600 million payments worth approximately $50 billion through the IT systems in support of health and aged care services.

Among the specifications, the RFI will identify innovative ideas and approaches to the design, delivery, and integration of digital payments platform. Innovative ideas and contributions are sought from industry players of varying sizes.

The administration seeks to maximise participation in any future procurement processes. This ensures that information technology is used as effectively as possible, while delivering end-user services, at the best possible cost.

The broader thrust is to validate market capability, capacity and interest, while assessing potential industry partnering opportunities. This engagement minimises any risks to the Commonwealth that may stem from different approaches and capability.

Implementation timelines and milestones are examined, together with demonstrated progress through to 2019.

The RFI was developed in consultation with health and aged care providers, sector stakeholders and users.

The Commonwealth’s existing services include Medicare Benefits Schedule payments for bulkbilled or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists.

In specific circumstances, this billing also incorporates dentists, and other allied health practitioners. Other payments include the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Ageing and Aged Care Programs.

On the digital front, the Australian government launched the Australian Digital Health Agency in July 2016. This agency manages governance, operation and ongoing delivery for digital health, while replacing the National eHealth Transition Authority.

The Commonwealth’s 2016-17 Budget has encouraged innovation and digital health services. Among these, digital innovation makes it easier for citizens to interact with the health system, in line with digital health innovations.

In an earlier address, the Department of Health’s secretary, Martin Bowles, noted that the health system is one of the most complex policy spaces in government. This infrastructure is not one system, but many systems that are interdependent. At present, technology growth is the biggest driver of cost in the system, while requiring future rationalisation and integrated services.