Sunday, June 29, 2014

There Is Something Really Odd Going On Here. There Are A Lot Of Questions To Answer!

A day or so ago we had this announcement appear.

New Chair for NEHTA

Created on Thursday, 26 June 2014
After completing six years in office, David Gonski AC has concluded his role as the Chair of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).
Mr Gonski has served two consecutive terms as Chair and in accordance with NEHTA’s constitution is not eligible for a third term. 
The Board of Directors would like to sincerely thank Mr Gonski for the leadership he has shown in his role as Chair.
Mr Gonski became Chair in 2008 and was responsible for revitalising the board and galvanising cooperation between the governments of Australia to deliver urgently needed infrastructure and standards for health information.
NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming is pleased to announce that Dr Steve Hambleton MBBS FAMA, immediate past president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has been appointed the new Chair of NEHTA.
Dr Hambleton was elected Federal President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in May 2011, after serving a two-year term as Federal Vice President. He was most recently one of three panel members responsible for conducting the Government’s review into the personally controlled electronic health record system.
The clinical expertise and leadership Dr Hambleton brings to this role will be vital in ensuring that eHealth becomes widely adopted in clinical settings across Australia.
Here is the link:
The best commentary I have seen is here:

Gonski steps down as NeHTA chair, replaced by Hambleton

High profile corporate and education leader David Gonski has stepped down from his role as the chairman of the National eHealth Transition Authority and will be replaced by the immediate past president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Steve Hambleton.
The changing of the guard comes as the cross-government body tasked with making a national electronic health and medical records scheme a functional reality faces a pivotal year after its funding was extended for just one year in the federal Budget.
The departure of Mr Gonski was widely anticipated as he is ineligible to serve a third term as chairman under NeHTA’s constitution.
Mr Gonski, whose name has since become synonymous with the ambitious education reforms of the former Labor Federal government, became the NeHTA’s chairman in 2008 and is widely credited with keeping the massive and frequently challenged project alive through his quiet but formidable style of diplomacy.
His succession by Dr Hambleton is a clear sign that NeHTA’s stakeholders – which essentially comprise of state health authorities, the federal government and the medical sector – have opted for a stronger influence from clinicians who have repeatedly taken both NeHTA and the Federal Department of Health to task over the usability of the technology that NeHTA is creating.
More here:
I have been mulling and discussing this for a couple of days now and I am more confused now than I was when the announcement first appeared.
Among the questions are:
1. Why is this announcement made my Peter Fleming and not by the Minister for Health and Sport (Mr Dutton)?
2. Why has this announcement been made in the absence of a Government Response to the PCEHR Review where the dissolution of NEHTA was recommended?
3. What does this announcement mean for the various projects that NEHTA is presently involved in?
4. What will the role of NEHTA in any planned new Governance Framework for e-Health in Australia or is there going to be no change?
5. How is the e-Health industry in Australia meant to plan for the future while questions regarding the future of e-Health are so up in the air?
6. Does this announcement mean that, other than a new chairman the NEHTA Board is to remain the same - led by the same - but rapidly changing Board - that has brought us such successes as NASH and the AMT.
7. How, without a radically different Board, is a distinctly part time Chairman going to make any real difference to NEHTA?
8. Where is the press release from the new Chairman explaining his plans and future direction he sees for NEHTA?
9. Would not it be more effective in terms of making a difference to have a properly qualified clinician CEO rather than Chairman or even change both and a few other board members?
10. What is to be the fate of the rest of the obviously improved e-Health Governance Framework that the new Chairman recommended with his two colleagues in the PCEHR Review?
For what it is worth my view is that this announcement and the way it has been made, as well as the lack of answers to the questions I raise is a reflection of the apparent chaos in e-health.
A simple step the new Chairman could take that would make a real difference is to have the detailed minutes of each NEHTA Board Meeting promptly made public so stakeholders can much more properly understand just what is going on.
I look forward to some answers to my 10 questions - but an cynical enough to believe that while change may be apparent little will change!
What do you think?
David.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would not expect much to change in the short term, it is a well known fact certain department heads at NEHTA think the clinicians are an obstinate and have little role or value in the technical designs.

Anonymous said...

David,

If you were to start every post of yours with "There is something really odd going on here", you wouldn't be far wrong.

eHealth in Australia is totally odd. SNAFU.

Dr Ian Colclough said...

After 40 years working in every aspect of the health and ICT industries I have watched in utter amazement at the vast amounts of money that have been so willingly frittered away by governments and bureaucrats in pursuit of their ehealth agendas.

Even so, if Steve Hambleton, as Chair of NEHTA, is open minded enough to accept that some of us, when put together, have the maturity, wisdom and experience, to overcome the obstacles and deliver outcomes that gain traction and work to become become part of the health system's infrastructure then it is my firm conviction substantial advances in eHealth can be made quite quickly. The sceptics may wonder but the facts of the matter are every other which way has been tried to no avail. I invite those of your readers who may agree with me to let me know.

You do invaluable work David.
Ian.Colclough@ihsipl.com.au

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

An old story from an old timer:

"I used to read in the papers about how my lifestyle - smoking, drinking, no exercise, fried food - would most probably result in an early death.

This really worried me so I decided to do something about it. I stopped reading the papers."

IMHO, that's the easy way out. I've never been inclined to take the easy path, so Ian, I agree and count me in.