In July 2003, the Australian Health Ministers' Conference agreed that the Australian Health Information Council and National Health Information Group should develop a Strategic Plan for Information Management and Information and Communication Technology (IM&ICT) in Health.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was engaged to assist in developing the strategic plan. BCG reviewed the current portfolio of electronic communication and information technology projects, identified priorities for the national agenda, and suggested ways to help make progress on the agenda. In April 2004, BCG presented their major findings and recommendations in their report, National Health Information Management and Information & Communications Technology Strategy.

BCG recommended action in four crucial areas to advance a national e-health agenda:

  • Alignment of expectations as to what is achievable, and an agreed path to get there;
  • Agreement on national priorities and the national role in relation to those priorities;
  • Adequate funding to address those problems; and
  • A strengthened governance model.

These recommendations have informed the development of the strategic plan. The plan addresses pathways, national priorities and the national coordination role in relation to these priorities. The strengthened governance model has already been instigated with the creation and resourcing of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).

The purpose of the health IM&ICT strategic plan is:

  • To ensure that a comprehensive, yet focused approach is taken to National work on health IM&ICT.
  • To guide decision making for policy and projects, investment by governments and other partners and research and development.
  • To inform governments, consumers, the health workforce and the IT industry about directions and opportunities for them to participate and/or contribute to policy and projects.

The Strategic Plan aims to build on the potential of IM&ICT to improve access to accurate, reliable, understandable, and timely information to support high quality health care. At the same time it recognises the need at all times to protect the privacy of individuals and the confidentiality and security of personal health information.