Monday, February 02, 2009

Why is Ms Roxon Avoiding Taking Leadership and Initiating Action on E-Health?

On Friday last week the following appeared on the Australian Doctor web-site.

No deadline for e-health records

30-Jan-2009

By Paul Smith

THE Federal Government is refusing to set a deadline for the introduction of national e-health records, despite admitting the system is fundamental to its ambitious reform program.

Recently, a further $216 million was handed over to fund the body responsible for making e-health a reality: the National E-Health Transition Authority.

An additional $1 billion is expected to be committed for infrastructure development via the Council of Australian Governments.

Federal Health Minister Ms Nicola Roxon said: “Workforce and e-health are the chief enablers of all the health reforms. Without them the reforms will not be able to work.”

But she would not be drawn on a timetable for when the system will be in place, only stressing that it would be after 2010.

“The steps are going ahead but I can't give you a date. It takes a lot of time,” she told Australian Doctor.

She also said no decision had been made on the government’s role in delivering national e-health records.

.....

And talking about the progress being made in the UK she said.

“I'm agnostic about it. We will go with what will work.”

More here if you have access:

http://www.australiandoctor.com.au/articles/86/0c05ce86.asp

So what we have here is as follows.

First the health minister realises this stuff is very important and that health reform (which she desperately needs and wants) probably is impossible without major investment in the area..

Two she does not really have an action plan – or there would be some sort of dates and deliverables she could talk about. She does not seem to want to adopt the Deloittes work.

Three, despite the comments from NEHTA earlier in the week, it is not clear who is going to do what as far as progressing e-Health is concerned.

Four, we have a pretty clear statement that she does not see herself leading or really being accountable for progress in the area.

Fifth, commentary which is not really designed to be noted by the mainstream media (Fairfax, News Ltd etc)

The present government is now 14 or 15 months into a three year term and it has made no substantive identifiable progress compared with the previous Howard regime. We all know Tony Abbott found the area both important and deeply frustrating during his tenure of the job and it seems Ms Roxon is having the same difficulties.

The only difference is that she has a clear, well thought out plan (developed by Deloittes) to have her bureaucrats – who incidentally are many of the same people who worked for Mr Abbott – get on and implement.

This is the only way she has any chance of going to the next election without an “F” for Fail in the whole e-Health space.

She needs to simply get an appropriate quantum of funds from the Health and Hospitals Infrastructure Fund and tell DoHA to get on with implementing the Deloittes blueprint. She also has to make it clear she is going to sponsor the implementation and crash through the inevitable road-blocks to implementation as they emerge.

We have a plan – we need leadership, commitment and some sensible level funding. That should not be too hard if you actually want to be remembered as a Health Minister who made something of a difference for the good.

If Mr Obama can find the will and funds in the awful times so should she!

David.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As you state, the big problem is leadership.
After sitting on various NEHTA groups, it became apparent to me that the idea of "consensus" just will nto work in health. Too many people (and groups such as NEHTA, GPs, colleges, etc) with their own barrows to push. They refuse to budge, and the result is that nothing gets done.

We need someone to take the hard line and make a unilateral decision on what should happen. Even if it is not ideal, it will be moving forward. The current situation means that a national health record will never happen.

Anonymous said...

LEADERSHIP ………… herein lies the nub of the problem.

Yes, Leadership is a big part of the problem but what qualities must the ’Leadership’ be able to demonstrate?

And does any single individual have all the leadership qualities required?