Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Many More of these Wacky RACGP / NEHTA Press Releases Will We See?

Yet again we have had a pretty bizarre release from NEHTA.

How e-health can help improve men’s health

4 November 2010. Currently five men die every hour in Australia from potentially preventable illnesses, which are not detected early enough, yet despite this staggering number, men are still reluctant to go and see a GP. Dr Ronald McCoy, a board member of a men’s health program, The M5 Project, developed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), is hoping that new e-health systems may help to detect preventable illnesses earlier and ultimately lead to better health outcomes for men.

“Men face a higher death rate than women when it comes to cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory disease and mental health problems including suicide and accidents. Many of these conditions are preventable. Men tend to present later with health problems, visit the GP less frequently and when they do, they have shorter consultations and are less likely to come in for preventative health checks.

“With one electronic record, we can build a comprehensive medical history for a patient that can be accessed by any GP. This means that no matter where they seek medical help, the GP can see how long it was since the patient had a cholesterol check, monitor their blood pressure and talk to the patient about any significant lifestyle changes.

“This is hugely significant in dealing with men’s health and well-being and it will also eliminate the need to duplicate tests and procedures, reducing the time men need to spend at a medical clinic, which is a huge factor why men stay away in the first place.

“E-health makes pro-active preventive health measures easier, which will improve treatment outcomes significantly. Electronic records give us a huge advantage and with other electronic systems, could lead to the biggest gain in men’s health we have seen yet,” said Dr McCoy.

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is the lead organisation supporting the national vision for e-health in Australia and to ensure that GPs can deliver the highest standard of care to their patients, the RACGP is working with NEHTA on what is reasonable, workable and useful for GPs in the area of e-health.

The RACGP recently launched a new online health tool, M5 HEALTH ONLINE, which allows men to carry out a personalised health check, followed by access to no nonsense, practical advice on where to go and what to do if their lifestyle changes.

For more information about the M5 Project and M5 HEALTH ONLINE, visit www.m5project.com.au

The release with contact details etc. is found here:


What this release is trying to do is indicate NEHTA is doing something that it really isn’t (providing help with preventive care) and the only value I can see in any of this is bringing to the attention of the M5 project to employers who can enrol their male employees in a PHR like system to keep track of their progress. It should be noted this is not at all related to and as far as I can see will not interoperate with planned PCEHR.

The downloadable health questionnaire to take to the doctor when you decide to go also seems quite sensible but again has nothing to do with NEHTA.

Any routine screening and preventive alerts will not come from anything NEHTA is involved in but rather from GP Practice Management Systems (which should be distinguished from the PCEHRs that seem to be on some launching pad somewhere).

Providing a .pdf of a 2 page health questionnaire on line really does not quite cut it for being an e-Health initiative and it is clearly in no way related to what NEHTA is doing.

Overall M5 is a worthy and sensible initiative but it simply has nothing to do with NEHTA. Just as we have had press releases telling us NEHTA delivered e-Health is helping rural patients, indigenous populations and so on I am sure in a month or so it will be women, children, the aged, blonds, those under 5 feet high and so on endlessly.

Some of the recent ones are found:


and here:


and here:


and here:


and so on. Close reading of all of them will show the relationship between the release and what NEHTA does is often a little tenuous to say the least!

At least we now know how some of the well paid NEHTA executive team spend their time - dreaming up propaganda like this!

Just how a Clinical College like the RACGP can be induced to be part of a commercial sponsorship deal to be part of this really amazes me. Surely they should be a little more detached from commercial interests than this?

NEHTA should just stop the relentless self-promotion and actually start delivering some value!



Anonymous said...

Well if you put your e-health program in the hands of the membership services team, you end up with short term financial benefits for the RACGP organisational structure, and zero benefits for the membership.

It became apparent during the announcement of the RACGP's dubious tie-up with Telstra that the college's commercial bright sparks didn't even consult with their own clinician led e-health committee about the wisdom of such an arrangement.

Who knows under what terms all the other RACGP endorsements have been crafted, but I suspect the NEHTA deal is fairly benign in comparison to the damage the college's market interference is having.

Anonymous said...

Oh well not to worry - the RACGP is becoming increasingly irrelevant now that DOHA and the Government have got full control of Medicare Locals through the AGPN and the Divisions.

State-managed primary care health services will become increasingly irrelevant also as the doctor-led Medicare Locals (but Government funded and controlled) stomp through the landscape under the "trust us - we are the doctors - we're here to make health better - we know what needs to be done" banner.

So RACGP membership - forget it - make sure you and your practice are a fully paid up members of the AGPN or the APHCN - Australian Primary Health Health Care Network - as it is now known.

Anonymous said...

It looks as though the APHCN have left the RACGP and AMA out in the cold. With Medicare Locals embracing 500,000 people or thereabouts and GP Super Clinics on the rise it is clear who will hold the whip hand.

Anonymous said...

David, I suspect this is less NEHTA's work than the RACGP's. After five years of ignoring anything to do with eHealth, they've somehow realised in the last year that that they need to get into this space.

My guess is that's been prompted by just how succesful the Pharmacy Guild has been launching into eHealth with their Merixio and eRx products, then getting government backing for a funded ePrescription fee. But the RACGP is no Pharmacy Guild.

In the meantime, many of the divisions have been quietly pushing forward as best they can with eHealth, some obviously higher profile than others (like GP Partners, for example). But other divisions like South Brisbane or the Gold Coast have been pushing forward with technology enabled chronic disease management, etc. Hopefully, these initiatives and the AGPN will be strengthened by the Medicare Locals move.

The RACGP have been flat-flooted by their irrelevance, watch the Pharmacy Guild and how succesful they are, and try to emulate them or others starting with vapourware press announcements.

In a desparate search for credibility, they've attached themselves to the likes of Telstra (who has zero credentials in eHealth, despite their noise about providing a shared health record, referral, eprescribing tool, etc for all GP's in collaboration with the RACGP), and the likes of NEHTA (who may have some talented people, but likewise zero credibility in delivery)

The blind leading the blind, leading the blind.

I would bet that with that combination, they'll win one of the funding grants in the e-Health tenders that are coming from DOHA. DOHA just loves blind alleys in eHealth and with NEHTA's tacit endorsement, I'm sure they can all find a way to waste $10million or so.

Anonymous said...

Wacky - sums it up perfectly.

They (both RACGP and NEHTA) quite clearly don't understand what messages they are sending out with these simplistically shallow mind numbing media comments.

They obviously lack any marketing communication skills and they lack insight into what 'messages' are of interest and relevant. With wacky stuff like this all the RACGP and NEHTA are doing is telling everyone important and influential that they have absolutely no idea. They really are in desperate need of help.