IT and healthcare professionals have called for more funding for e-health on the eve of the Federal Budget.\nE-health has been the subject of much debate across the healthcare sector. The head of surgery at the University of Sydney, Professor Mohamed Khadra, has witnessed the frustrations of the current health system firsthand. He desribes himself as \u201ca rare blend of doctor\u201d who couples experience in the healthcare industry with a graduate computer degree from Deakin University and a degree in education.\nKhadra first realised the lack of technology in the health care industry was an issue back in 1998.\n\u201cI stepped off the plane to start [work] in a clinical school and it was immediately apparent that access to healthcare in rural Australia required e-health solutions to be forthcoming,\u201d he said.\n\u201cIt\u2019s hugely disappointing that 10 years later, it\u2019s still being talked about and nothing is being done.\n\u201cIt\u2019s just crazy that we don\u2019t have an investment in [e-health] that\u2019s substantial\u201d, he said.\nKhadra is not alone in his criticism of a lack of reform to the Australian healthcare industry. John Backhouse has worked on the UK\u2019s National Healthcare Service (NHS) for more than a decade and was recently selected as program director for Information Builders. Backhouse told CIO that the Rudd government needs to implement serious change and take leadership in order for the reforms to be successful.\n\u201cThere is a lack of clarity and a lack of thought about who is going to regulate,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s OK to put KPIs down and reports in, but who\u2019s going to actually manage the management and manage the services?\n\u201cReform has been announced, but no key details have been released\u201d, he added.\nWhen it comes to software solutions that could drive the future of e-health, Khadra and Backhouse have differing opinions. Professor Khadra thinks that open source may be the way forward for the healthcare system and that large amounts of money could be saved during the process.\n\u201cThere\u2019s an enormous amount of rip-off in IT,\u201d he said.\n\u201cI\u2019ve recently been made aware of a hospital spending a vast amount of money on a piece of software. The software cost the NSW government around $40 million dollars, and it has not helped in any shape or form over what we used to have. If anything it\u2019s made it worse\u201d, he said.\nBackhouse said that at present, technology is not the issue that the healthcare industry should be focusing on.\n\u201cOpen source may be free but where do you get the expertise to implement it?\n\u201cThe best software in the world won\u2019t enable the reform to occur. What enables it to occur is the partnership between industry and government, which is grounded in the understanding of what needs to be done,\u201d he said.\nBackhouse thinks that more planning is required around e-health solutions, however he remains positive about its future and believes that the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHNRC) will be able to have its e-health policy framework generated by the proposed deadline of 2012 if it takes a bottom-up approach.\n\u201cI can\u2019t see any reason why they can\u2019t do it in two years\u2026 If you go top-down it will take much longer than two years\u201d, he said.\nBackhouse advised CIOs in the healthcare industry to ensure that they have data that they can rely on, to avoid approaching healthcare from the top-down and to ensure that data is released in a timely manner. But he admitted it would not be easy.\n\u201cGetting that information out in a timely manner to the consumer is a real challenge\u201d, he said.