Monday, January 03, 2011

NSW Health Has A Full Blown Health IT Failure on Its Hands. As I Predicted in 2006!

The Healthelink Project, which was to provide a prototype for a Shared EHR for NSW has essentially imploded.

Information provided to this blog confidentially confirms both the number of participants in the project and their information transmission activities have both fallen through the floor over the last 12 months! To protect sources I can’t provide much detail concerning the evidence I have seen, but it is clear and dramatic and confirms what I have been saying for a good while. Sadly HealtheLink is such a badly wounded animal that it really now needs to be helped to pass to a much better place!

Visiting the site we find:

Brief News

30th June 2010

103,190 individuals have now been enrolled into Healthelink.

30th April 2010

100,567 individuals have now been enrolled into Healthelink.

31st January 2010

95,136 individuals have now been enrolled into Healthelink.

This shows that despite even the draconian opt out approach very few are getting involved and it is so bad no statistics have been released in six months.

You can explore the project web site here:

Here are a few selected links from over the years on this debacle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Slow Demise of Health-E-Link

It’s been another bad day for e-Health In Australia.

Today we learned that the NSW HealthConnect Trial for NSW - the Health-E-Link project is coming apart for the most basic of reasons - the lack of proper involvement and consultation of healthcare providers and consumers.

It seems that NSW Health has been so keen to get the project operational they have altered NSW Health Information Privacy regulations - to the annoyance of many who are interested in the issue - and have also failed to sign up the local doctors before attempting to 'go live'.

The rest is here:


Thursday, October 26, 2006

What is Happening at NSW Health with Healthelink?

“This software is specifically for internal Hospital use and has nothing really directly to do with the Healthelink project which I understand is still battling with the issues raised by the Privacy Foundation and which threatens to become a considerable white elephant.”

Here is the full blog:

Next here:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Healthelink – Trundling Towards Failure?

“I am afraid this project has all the signs of a project that is on the ropes. I hope not since it has taken so long to get this far. In many ways I am not surprised. As those who have read this blog for a while will know I have always been convinced that the complexities and difficulties associated with shared summary electronic health records have been very underestimated.

Maybe a strategic re-think and revision of the privacy approach can grab victory from the jaws of defeat. I hope so.”

Full article here:

Second last here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Summary Evaluation Report of NSW HealtheLink Finally Released.

For your reading pleasure the following was pointed out today.


This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Healthelink electronic health record (EHR) pilot. This report was prepared by KPMG. It focuses on the implementation, functioning and performance of the Healthelink EHR pilot from the time of its commencement in March 2006 to September 2008.

An Evaluation of the Healthelink Electronic Health Record Pilot (Summary Report) (272K)

The site is located here:

Bit of a pity – yet again – we have a summary report – because citizens are not grown up enough to be allowed the full truth!

Full blog here:

Last there is this - and this one which needs to be read in full!

Depending on who you trust this project has cost between $20 and $40 million, has not saved a single life anyone knows about and is now a dying white elephant.

See here to discover how this has been running since 2001!

The project was a failure, among a very long list, for lack of clinician and public consultation, the lack or usable systems and all round arrogance and secrecy from the NSW Health hierarchy.

Amazingly the NSW Government is apparently going to spend a huge $1.2 million on making this fiasco compatible with the PCEHR and NEHTA Standards. Why bother one asks. It has not worked in 5 years so what will change that now!

From Ms Roxon we have:

“The state governments of the three states will also join this partnership to drive e-health forward in these communities. The Queensland Government has committed $1.2 million of in-kind support to GP Partners. The NSW Government has also committed $1.2 million to support the initiative and will work with the National E-Health Transition Authority to integrate their Healthelink pilot program with the national rollout.”

Full release here:

If ever there was a ‘dead parrot’ this is it! First act of the new NSW Health Minister - after the March 2011 election - should be to just put it out of its misery.

The PCEHR will work out worse than this and cost a great deal more in my view - as it is the same incompetent collection of idiots who still run e-Health policy in Australia, and who refuse to learn the lessons of global experience that I try to provide here on the blog.

Watch and wait and see! No good will come of the PCEHR without a radical rethink!



Anonymous said...

So, the $30 to $40 million NSW HealheLink Project has failed. Why is it so?

What lessons can be leant from this?

Was the project scope too broad?
Was the application to complex?
Was the community enrolled behind the project?

These fundamental questions are difficult to answer without first having a granular understanding of the environment in which the project was to be implemented.

To throw some light on why the project failed we need first and foremost to know:
(a) who were the participating health agencies and service providers?
(b) who were the participating technology software vendors?
(c) who were the project managers?
(d) what funding was available to underwrite software development?
(e) what incentive funding was available to engage participants?
(f) how was the project broken down into stages and what were the defined milestones for each stage?

(a)to (f) provide a good starting point to help understand where and why the project failed.

Bruce Farnell said...

All good points raised by Anonymous Jan 03, 2011 6:52:00PM to understand the full extent of the real issues for the project failure. A very cursory glance at the KPMG September 2008 evaluation report identifies a range of technical and other issues needing to be addressed but detail is lacking.

From page 28 of the KPMG report "The current use is less than originally expected, which reflects the
developmental nature of Healthelink and the time required to build up the content of the EHR. It is clear that clinicians’ support for the EHR reflects their current frustration in not being able to readily access all relevant patient information which results in wasted time, delayed clinical decision making and increased risk of adverse patient outcomes."

In other words, a key reason why the project failed was that the GPs did not use the system due to a lack of a comprehensive record for each patient. This was probably caused by the restricted patient cohort and the range of technical issues hinted at in the report. It's a fair bet that there were GP workflow issues that the project failed to address too.

All of these issues are really interesting and need to be fully understood if future projects of this type are to be successful.

The biggest failure of this project, that I can see, is the one that isn't written in the KPMG report. That is, the IT governance failure which allows the project to slowly die without clearly identifying what the real issues are.

Terry Hannan said...

David, I am in agreement with your comments on the NSW Health system. I can go back to 1992 when the then Minister for Health, Peter Collins and some of his HIT experts summoned me to his city office after I had written a commentary on the NSW $1bill over ten years on NSW Health project (which of course failed).

On arriving in the office I was greeted by the minister and his experts who said the reason you are here is to stop you writing any more comments as they are upsetting too many people.

One of his experts proceeded to hand me his private enterprise business card ‘for any future reference’.

I documented the meeting and redistributed this to those who had received my original critique.

So I am wholeheartedly agreeing with your comments in today’s blog.

Terry Hannan