Tuesday, December 04, 2012

It Really Is A Little Sad To See Just How Bad DoHA Is At Technology Implementation.

The following appeared in the last few days.

PharmCIS delays hamper PBS claims

30 November, 2012 Kirrilly Burton  
Pharmacists are being asked to hold off submitting their PBS claims until their software has been updated after delays on a major upgrade to the IT system for the PBS.
The new system, dubbed ‘PharmCIS,’ to replace over 40 existing systems, was expected to be introduced tomorrow to coincide with changes to the PBS Schedule from December 1 2012. 
However, the Department of Health and Ageing has admitted that some PBS software updates by some vendors would not be implemented by tomorrow due to the “complexity of the transition to the new system.”
An excerpt from a letter sent by the Department to key stakeholders seen by Pharmacy News, said: “While not all prescribers and pharmacies will have fully up to date software for 1 December, the correct PBS prices will be available on: www.pbs.gov.au where a print version can be downloaded to enable correct dispensing scripts that were modified by the 1 December changes to the PBS Schedule.”
Consequently, a spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, said not all pharmacies will have fully up to date software that includes correct information on the PBS Schedule from 1 December 2012.
More details here:
Coverage also made it into the mainstream press:

New PBS computer system delayed

THE Department of Health and Ageing has flagged further delays to a new computer system for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that will impact prescribers and dispensers, but not patients.
The new IT system for the PBS, dubbed PharmCIS, replaces over 40 systems spanning nearly 20 years.
According to the department, PharmCIS or Pharmaceutical Consolidated Information System will support approval and listing of medicines on the PBS and its price determinations.
The system will provide PBS data to Medicare, software vendors and others, and also manage data and information associated with evaluating and listing drugs on the PBS.
The PBS Schedule is released in online format and contains all medicines available under the scheme.
Under PharmCIS, medicine descriptions will be based on the Australian Medicines Terminology, a new national standard set by the National e-Health Transition Authority.
Software vendors rely on "clean data" from PharmCIS to upgrade their products for prescribers and dispensers so information will be at these workers fingertips when they access the system. This work will now have to be done manually and those affected will have to check against the PBS website to ensure scripts are accurately dispensed at the correct price.
Lots more here:
What is really good is that in a letter to the Medical Software Industry Association we read:
“In the letter, the department took the unprecedented step of recognising the efforts of the vendor fraternity amidst the problems.
"The Department of Health and Ageing would like to express its appreciation of the work being undertaken by the medical software community.
"All software vendors have worked to very tight timeframes to maintain their quality assurance and to roll out their PBS supporting software packages for December 2012.”
So we actually have a confession as to who has let the side down here - in the nicest possible way.
None of this is at all new. The Department have known for a while now they were going to miss the deadlines but rather than just keep on with the old system till the new one was sorted they pressed on with the outcome we see. Remind you of any other DoHA initiatives?


Anonymous said...

Yes - at least one arm of DOHA does the decent thing. And for a worthy system that we all benefit from - the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
In our dreams:DOHA eHealth might say:
"Dear software industry, looking back, we are sorry we ignored your advice about the PCEHR. You were right when you said there was a long way to go with the HI Service. It has taken a lot of work and $ to get it working with the PCEHR. And we are sorry that we pushed the PCEHR system out way before it was ready, and we do understand now just how much work it is for vendors and sites to participate. We should have focussed on that instead of wasting our money on the change and adoption consultants, the benefits consultants and the big truck."

Trevor3130 said...

That "over 40 systems" line may be an indicator of the burdensome nature of front-line work required of the call centre at DoHA. Hasn't anyone heard of the irritation when the person taking the call (from a prescriber) has to move from one system to another to get at the specifics of the inquiry? Try to find out how many they have to work with next time. I got the number "six" once, but I dare say there's a stern directive from Ms Halton that no such information will be disclosed.
If the front-line staff are overloaded by inefficient systems, as it is, it will require significant investment in time & training to get them across to a new interface.
I'd like to hope they institute a 'job number' system so they can call back to the inquirer if better information pops up, or a mistake has been made. The bank, and Google, can authenticate with SMS to my mobile. Is that too much to ask of DoHA?

Trevor3130 said...

Going to draw a longish bow here & suggest the political case for e-Health is channelled through MPs & Senators and, more particularly, is affected by their own experiences of IT, in general, both privately and as they are exposed to IT services in Parliament.
Therefore, the recent Senate Report on The performance of the Department of Parliamentary Services may be relevant.
7.53 The committee supports the implementation of the review's recommendations. The committee also notes the evidence of past unsatisfactory project management and provision of IT services. For too long DPS appears to have relied on security concerns to hinder access to emerging technologies. The committee is also concerned with ICT project management and points to the new Parliament House website as an example. This project was significantly delayed and costs far exceeded initial estimates. The
explanation given by the then Parliamentary Librarian was that the vendor lacked understanding of the complexity of the system and security issues. The committee finds this a rather problematic explanation given that the old website had been in situ for some 10 years and security of ICT systems has been a long standing issue. The committee considers that the delays may point to poor project development and inadequate consultation between stakeholders, DPS and the vendors. The committee is also somewhat disturbed that Ms Mills has indicated that the website still requires a 'significant upgrade' which will costs 'a couple of hundred thousand dollars'. The committee will keep this further upgrade work under close scrutiny through the estimates process.

ICT issues 10.73 The committee notes that DPS is now responsible for IT for parliamentarians' electorate offices. This is a welcome development and the committee considers that many problems experienced in the past due to fragmentation of the provision of services will be addressed. The committee also believes that the implementation of the recommendations of the Roche review, including the creation of the position of Chief Information Officer in DPS, will significantly improve the provision of ICT services to the Parliament. However, one matter still outstanding is the Department of Finance and Deregulation's retention of responsibility for multifunction and mobile devices
such as BlackBerries. The committee acknowledges that discussions have commenced with the Special Minister of State for the transfer of this responsibility. However, the committee considers that, as a matter of priority, arrangements should be completed for the transfer of all ICT equipment to DPS.
Recommendation 22 10.74 The committee recommends that, as a matter of priority, arrangements should be completed for the transfer of responsibility for mobile and multifunction devices to the Department of Parliamentary Services.

Outsourcing contractors would like the look of all that.
DPS directory.
I wonder how many MPs are seeking the views of health service providers, on Health IT, in their own electorates.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the benefits partners glowing reports of how well the Wave sites went? There was some serious dollars given to some group what did they produce as a read or shall we wait like we did for the lessons from Healthconnect to come out...