Jameel Khan        The Emerging Role of the Internet in Healthcare        Mr Carey

Table of Contents



E-Health - The Emerging Role of the Internet in Healthcare

“The Internet has evolved from the information-retrieval of “Web 1.0” to “Web 2.0,”. The outcome of this development is ‘Health 2.0’” (Jane Sarasohn-Kahn 2008)


This report will analyse advantages and disadvantages of the E-Health initiative proposed by the Australian government, as well as the privacy, security and integrity of the personal information being stored on the system, to ultimately come to a conclusion as to whether this system would be an asset or a liability to the Australian society.


While this report addresses E-Health’s initiatives, policies, advantages, disadvantages and security concerns, it does not address the more detailed and technical aspects of the E-Health systems, such as Security, Access and Data Quality frameworks, and Current and Target Architecture.

E-Health: Description

“…it is unambiguous that health information and sharing is about to explode”

(Dr David More 2008)

On the 19th and 20th of April, 2008, the 2020 Australian Summit was held, bringing together 1002 delegates from across the nation and generating over 900 ideas. These posed important questions about Australia’s future, while others offered the opportunity to embrace significant policy reform in a new way of governing.

One of the many ideas proposed by the delegates gathered at the 2020 summit was to construct and implement a nationwide e-health system, with intention to, combine data held by governments with state hospital data, provide better targeted treatments and to establish a system that allows reporting positive outcomes in the health system.

The Summit recognised the importance of an e-health system in Australia, and as a result, in November 2008, COAG agreed to the continued funding of $218 million to the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) - a non-profit company, established by the Australian, state and territory governments, to develop better ways of electronically collecting and securely exchanging health information.  (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2009)

E-Health: New Developments

Early July 2010, it was announced that the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) had agreed to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with Telstra. This memorandum was an agreement for Telstra to deliver a suite of national e-health solutions and services (see figure 1 and 2 in appendix for latest ideas).

Telstra Business Groups’ Managing Director, Deena Shiff, added to this announcement that “the partners would work closely with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to develop further initiatives, such as secure messaging, medical directories, e-prescriptions, and more.”

(Anonymous1 2010)

One technology currently being analysed by Telstra to be used in the construction of this suite is known as ‘Cloud Computing’. This is where the concept of a central server is brought to life.

(Anonymous2 2010)

An example of this technology being used is the media and game distributor application ‘Steam’. Steam gives users access to a connected community of 25 million gamers and a robust world-wide network.

Steam’s ‘Steam Cloud’ feature is one of its major features attracting a lot of attention and being one of the foundations it is succeeding in the gaming industry. This feature allows gamers to upload their personalized settings, game saves and gamer profiles to an offshore central server, giving the gamer the ability to pull up these personalized settings, game saves and gamer profile regardless if they have moved computers or even countries.

Information Privacy and Security  

Information privacy and security are both vital to the integrity of any organisation, no matter how big or small.  

Information Privacy

Privacy may be defined as the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine when, how and to what extent information about them is communicated to others (Westin AF, Privacy and Freedom New York: Atheneum, 1967, page 7).

However, the term 'privacy' means different things to different people. Privacy in its basic form is the stipulation of human beings to want control over their personal information. Now days, in the modern world information must leave the 'circle of trust' may it be for medical, financial or even for paperwork reasons. It is from this an individual’s privacy can be broken and personal information leaked. Over the years more and more people have become concerned with their personal information’s privacy and from this concern the Privacy Act of 1988 was born.

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The Privacy Act of 1988, covers the privacy of an individual’s, group’s or institution’s personal information through embodying eleven Information Privacy Principles (IPP's):

  • Principle 1 - Manner and purpose of collection of personal information
  • Principle 2 - Solicitation of personal information from individual concerned
  • Principle 3 - Solicitation of personal information generally
  • Principle 4 - Storage and security of personal information
  • Principle 5 - Information relating to records kept by record-keeper
  • Principle 6 - Access to records containing personal information
  • Principle 7 - Alteration of records containing personal information
  • Principle 8 - Record-keeper to check accuracy etc ...

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