Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Australian Privacy Foundation Call NEHTA for Just Failing To Consult - So What Is New?

I was sent this today. It is a serious worry I believe.


14 November 2011

NEHTA Blacklists Privacy Advocate on a Pretext

Embargoed until 23:59 Monday 14 November 2011
The National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) is well-advanced in its design for its Personally- Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).
It has kept privacy advocates at arm's length, throughout the process, 2008-11.
NEHTA has failed to provide constructive responses to serious and specific expressions of concern about consultation processes, and about deficiencies in the design process.
The Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) is the nation's primary advocate for the privacy interest. It was formed in 1987, and has made many hundreds of submissions on matters of public concern.
APF has provided over 20 detailed submissions to NEHTA in relation to the PCEHR.
NEHTA has previously excluded APF nominees from some events by imposing a lengthy and nonnegotiable non-disclosure agreement (NDA) containing highly-objectionable clauses.
This week, NEHTA found a new way to keep unwelcome advice away from its staff.
Following a meeting in October, APF provided a submission detailing serious problems with the design process. Nine days later, NEHTA delivered comments that showed the organisation had no intention of doing anything about those problems. APF's nominee emailed blunt criticism in return.
NEHTA has branded some unspecified part of an APF email as bullying and/or harassment.
The APF has explained that NEHTA's interpretation is unjustified.
Despite that, NEHTA has excluded APF's nominee from any participation in NEHTA events.
NEHTA has failed in its most important functions – coordinating the application of IT to healthcare, underwriting inter-operability among eHealth systems by means of negotiated standards and protocols, and ensuring that all stakeholders are integrated into the undertaking.
To get safe ehealth records, the design has to be bravely open to patients' concerns while there is still time to fix things. Designs based on political imperatives and timetables from above are doomed to failure. This latest over-reaction provides a further demonstration of how NEHTA invests massive energy in avoiding messages that are inconsistent with its senior executives' song-sheet.
For the Sequence of Events, the Email, the Accusations and Demands, and the Responses, see http://www.privacy.org.au/Media/MR-NEHTA-111114-Sp.pdf
NEHTA has avoided meaningful engagement with privacy advocates throughout its existence.
After the failure and departure of its first CEO, NEHTA finally drew clinicians inside the fold. But communications with consumer and privacy advocates have remained distant and sporadic.
There is no framework, and no persistent consultation structure or processes.
During 2008-12, NEHTA has been developing an eHealth record scheme, currently called the PCEHR.
APF has made 12 public submissions on substantive matters associated with the PCEHR, and, at NEHTA's request, has left several other submissions unpublished.
In addition, it has made 10 submissions relating to the serious inadequacies in the process.
In November 2010, a letter to NEHTA's CEO summarised the issues:
The letter drew attention to the indicators of good and bad consultation processes:
"Over the last five years, your organisation has held various events, but not as part of a coherent process. The contributions have not been cumulative, there has been no carry-through on outcomes from the events, and the previous senior staff-member was side-lined and left in frustration. The lack of a coherent process is all the more surprising in view of frequent statements by NEHTA staff that privacy concerns are a serious impediment to progress in eHealth".
NEHTA's CEO replied, http://www.privacy.org.au/Papers/NEHTA-Consn-Reply-101112.pdf , affirming "NEHTA’s commitment to a methodical and cumulative approach to engagement with privacy advocacy organizations":
The very next meetings failed the test.
A comprehensive list of the problems was sent on 10 Dec 2010, on pp. 2-3:
On 25 Feb 2011, APF wrote again:
 "The short sessions on governance matters involved no summary of the points made by participants, no responses to the points made by participants, no propositions, no alternative models, and no options.
There were just a few open-ended questions. The frustration among participants should have been very apparent to NEHTA staff, and if it wasn't then APF draws it to attention herewith. To our further disappointment, the presentation by DoHA at the meeting on 23 February was long on aspiration and devoid of any concrete undertakings in relation to the issues that have been placed on the table".
Prof Roger Clarke - Chair - Australian Privacy Foundation
----- End Extract.
Whatever you think of the Privacy Lobby they need to be heard. Behaviour like this from a publicly funded organisation is just appalling.
An apology and lifting the Game is needed!


Anonymous said...

This a disgraceful - NEHTA's contempt for anyone or any organization that does not agree with it is palpable .... not only should it publicly apologize to the APF, but also to the many other organizations and individuals that have provided submissions, reviewed documentation and participated in various PCEHR related forums and have had their suggestions, comments and recommendations totally ignored. SHAME ON NEHTA and DOHA (for giving NEHTA free reign without any proper accountability)

The privacy issues raised by the APF are important and need to be properly addressed - its about time that the CEO (aka despot) of the NEHTA dictatorship, Peter Flemming, show some real leadership for a change by publicly addressing the privacy issues raised and providing an apology forthwith!!

Anonymous said...

Reading the emails, I feel the wording was poorly chosen and mor than slightly unprofessional. I have to side with NEHTA and the Manager's reposne.

Anonymous said...

As a Manager I would be raising concerns over the language, though it would be more in the terms of asking him to tone it down and keep it professional.

One might think that the Manager may also do a bit of a root cause analysis on what has made this stakeholder lose his rag.

One would think that if the 'settle down' e-mail was accompanied with a 'look into why you are being totally ignored' - the message may of been better received.

I agree the tone of the e-mail is not great, however is the NEHTA Rep trying to fan the flames by being a superbcat ...to me if I was trying to resolve this - I would ask for a meeting to go over concerns and a bit of active listening as to the complaint.

If I was going to just shut him down and cut them out ...I might go this way.

If this went to a harrassement/bullying intervention - the outcome would be 'tone it down please'.

Funnily enough I have seen internal NEHTA communications that would make this look like Wordsworth in comparrison.


EA said...

Roger needs to:
1) Consider whether he has the mental & physical for a fight that may finish in him being a martyr to his own cause. That being so,
2) Confirm that he has a couple of stalwart (& younger) allies to stand in his corner.
3) Seek to heal the breach with NEHTA by pulling in his head a little and asking for a face-to-face meeting to clear the air.
The privacy concerns are very serious and, probably, are terminal blockades in further development of EHR. But, if NEHTA & DoHA are determined, let them go for it. Eventually, the deficiencies will cause either more expenditure for little gain, or they will create situations where vulnerable people are subjected to substandard outcomes and/or deliberate abuse.

Anonymous said...

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!!! NEHTA have some hide accusing Roger of bullying and harassment - mind you, they'd know, they are the masters of it after all. Me thinks they do protest too much - someone has to stand up for the privacy of the average person, NEHTA certainly aren't interested. Implementing privacy controls will just stand in the way of getting things done in a hurry. As it stands, I can't see there being any privacy controls in place so go Roger!!! Hang in there. After all this time, I don't think there was anything wrong with what he said - it was not personal, as he pointed out.

Anonymous said...

Wow not the greatest email, but what a massive over reaction by NEHTA ...so childish and me thinketh they just want to shut athis guy down.

Does anyone think that a blunt rather than rude e-mail like this would raise even more than an eyebrow?

NEHTA are being unprofessional too - instead of asking him to never do it again ....perhaps talk to him like a professional and not a year 7.

I hope a few NEHTA e-mails surface, their back tracking and industry excuses would be a joy to watch.

Dear Rodger

We would prefer it if in future correspondence if you would refrain from using language like X, Y & Z.


Anonymous said...

When the top level management finds itself under pressure receiving consistent criticism from all quarters and when all about them is falling apart it usually tends to look elsewhere to find someone or some parties to blame. At the same time it tends to become abusive and rude and lose the capacity to reason logically, for that is self-defeating as it only serves to prove that its critics are right and know what they are talking about. As the corollary to that is considered to be unacceptable the frustration mounts and behaviour deteriorates still further.

Autocratic, dictatorial, megalomaniacs all seem to end up in the same place if the Middle East is any guide - hiding, whimpering in the gutter, as their empire falls apart all around them. I'm not suggesting here that NEHTA's management are megalomaniacs but they certainly seem to be having difficulty controlling their emotions.

They desperately need to get some runs on the board and flaying around with arms in the air will not help. Nothing seems to be delivering the runs they so badly need. The only logical conclusion one can make is that they need to listen contritely to others who may be able to help them get some runs under their belt quickly.

Listening is the first step, then they need to ask for help, then they need to abrogate some power and control to those who can help to allow that help to be delivered. In doing so NEHTA must also be prepared to pay the asking price whatever it is for no-one in their right mind will bail NEHTA out for nothing.

Anonymous said...

This is Stakeholder Management 101. NEHTA and DOHA absolutely know and have flagged the Privacy Advocate bogeyman as a risk long ago and it is peculiar that they have decided to resort to this dysfunctional and doomed manner of engagement.

It is also extremely unprofessional, to leave a trail of this kind of base communication with a Stakeholder that could potentially be leaked.

You can now add Privacy Advocates to the long list of disenfranchised Stakeholder groups (ie GPs, Private sector, Vendors etc) in the Australian eHealth community that will not cooperate and will dispassionately watch as the this train wreck implodes and the blame game commences.

I for one am outraged that taxpayer $$$ have yet again been wasted by these grandiose incompetents.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Nehta is that the Public relations arm, who know nothing about eHealth are too good at protecting them. They deserve a Medal for the work they have done. Shame that such expertise is wasted on grandiose incompetents.

Anonymous said...

All true but the sight of one tax-payer funded group attacking another is unedifying... The APF is essentially a couple of academics marking out a niche career on our dollars. They don't represent the public view any more than NEHTA do.

Dr David More MB PhD FACHI said...

Anon: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:21:00 PM

A few facts:

The APF people all have day jobs and are not paid by Government - except things like fares to get to meetings.

The APF is a membership based organisation and not Govt Funded. Maybe you are confusing them with the laughable Govt Funded Aust Consumer Forum.

Basically you are just dead wrong!


Anonymous said...

Anon Nov 16 4:21PM ....you don't work for NEHTA by anychance?

Anonymous said...

Oh the sad, tragic irony!

The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong

Anonymous said...

I think you are being too kind, I'll back the Dilbert Principle in.