Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This May Be A Further Blow to Progress with the Health Identifier Service.

The following appeared a day or so ago.

Health staff unable to work as agency overloaded

KATE BENSON

July 17, 2010

Hundreds of desperately needed doctors and nurses have been told it could be months before they can work because of ''incompetent bungling'' by a new federal government agency which did not employ enough staff to answer phones.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is now responsible for registering and accrediting more than 560,000 health workers nationally but has been in meltdown since opening two weeks ago.

Its office has been swamped with more than 3000 calls a day, forcing it to outsource inquiries to an external call centre and set up new state-based phone numbers to spread the load.

The agency, which takes over the work of 85 smaller state-run boards, was designed to reduce costs and multiple layers of red tape but health workers say the transition has been bungled and the service was launched without adequate resources.

They complain that phones are not attended, staff have not been adequately trained and registrations are not being processed.

The bungle affects a wide range of health workers, including overseas-trained doctors recruited to work in Australia, and nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, optometrists, psychologists and osteopaths wanting to renew their registrations or register for the first time.

.....

''It is another case of incompetent government bungling and the backlog is putting huge pressure on hospitals and patient care,'' said Chris Tsolakis, the director of the recruitment agency Medipeople.

.....

A spokeswoman for the agency conceded there had been ''teething problems'' because the project, which required moving about 1.5 million records, some which were not computerised, to one IT system, had been ''very ambitious''.

......

The chairwoman of the Medical Board of Australia, Joanna Flynn, said doctors had been asked not to contact the new agency for the first 10 days to avoid overloading it during the transition phase.

.....

The vice-president of the Australian Doctors Trained Overseas Association, Sue Douglas, said it was unacceptable that doctors were being prevented from working because of problems with the introduction of the new agency.

''This has been three years in the making,'' Dr Douglas said.

''You'd think it would have been ready, but it doesn't surprise me.

''The old system was so incredibly cumbersome, such a bureaucratic bungle of inefficiencies, that how could the new one be any better?''

''This just wreaks havoc on doctors' livelihoods and on patients.''

Full article here:

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-election/health-staff-unable-to-work-as-agency-overloaded-20100716-10e72.html

Looks like we have another ‘pink bats’ or ‘BER’ saga building here. I have to say it sounds like a bit of an unplanned administrative messs.

We really can’t have the situation like the one reported in 6minutes.com.au last very long!

Medical board meltdown

by Jared Reed

The new national medical board has had to revert to state-based reporting of medical complaints after being swamped by enquiries over registration details.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency says it is fielding 3000 enquiries per day for medical and other health practitioners, which along with IT problems has forced it to redirect complaints handling back to the states.

AHPRA says it will publish state-specific phone numbers within the next 24 hours to ensure “concerns can be raised efficiently about individual practitioners.”

See:

http://www.6minutes.com.au/articles/z1/view.asp?id=520375

There are few implications of all this.

First if just creating a professionals register of 560,000 people works this well one wonders just how the Government will all go with the with the HI Service establishment involving 20+ million people.

Second, given practitioner authentication is to be based on these registration records, we can be pretty sure any planned progress for the National Authentication System for Health (NASH) won’t be running as smoothly as might have been hoped. I am sure this will all get fixed at some point – the only question really is when. This does not have the feel of a quick fix.

Third the implications for health service delivery of having professional registration and re-registration delayed or made uncertain are obvious!

This is a sense that this might be a bit too accident prone to me!

David.

5 comments:

Dr Ian Colclough said...

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)is taking over the work of 85 smaller state-run boards which were responsible for registering and accrediting more than 560,000 health workers.

When it is working well it will be a much better more streamlined and less cumbersome system than we have had to endure previously. We will need to be patient until that time comes. Even so, I have never been able to understand why all boards needed to be converted simultaneously. I have asked this question many times over but never been able to get a satisfactory answer.

Why was it not possible to convert, say, the physiotherapists first, then the dentists, followed by the pharmacists and so on, and in so doing progressively bed-down the system profession by profession?

Anonymous said...

Well said sir, and not only should they have converted "profession by profession" as you say which is just plain common sense but in doing so they should also have had at least one parallel test run - just in case. To say that that would have been impractical is rubbish. In Queensland we have just experienced the most diabolical unbelievable stuff up of all time with the state health payroll conversion because no-one, including IBM, had the nous to insist on at least two parallel runs and no-one seemed to care or be responsible for ensuring known problems were fixed before going live. The cost of fixing the problems created now is enormous.

Jim Cocks said...

This is Project Management 101 stuff - obviously not taught in public health IT circles.

Anonymous said...

or even in IBM given it was their project!

Jim Cocks said...

From The Australian 6 July 2010
"Queensland's shared services outfit CorpTech was the project owner and was responsible for IBM's role as the prime systems integrator. This relationship meant IBM required CorpTech's sign-off to make any change on project deliverables"