Another day another foul up for e-health (and a lot else) in Australia. Yesterday The Age’s Michelle Grattan reported in the following terms:
“The man overseeing the introduction of the Government's smartcard has resigned, citing concerns about its implementation, including privacy.
James Kelaher, former head of the smartcard taskforce, yesterday warned that privacy and the confidence of those with a stake in the card - including the public, doctors, pharmacies, states and federal departments - were likely to be compromised by Human Services Minister Joe Hockey's proposed arrangements.”
It seems the fuss is about two issues. Firstly whether there should be a separate agency constituted to establish and operate the Smartcard infrastructure and secondly whether there should be an expert and accountable board to oversee the total project and to ensure that all the necessary community expectations for security, privacy and integrity are met.
On the first point any project of the planned scale (involving over $A1.0Billion in expenditure) clearly needs focussed and dedicated management. To do otherwise breaks every rule in the Project Managers 101 textbook of implementation.
On the second it is clear, given the Australia Card debacle, that public confidence and trust is vital. To keep this all secret and in-house guarantees success for those few souls who oppose what is essentially a sensible initiative, if, and only if, implemented in a consultative, responsive and inclusive manner.
Mr Hockey needs to wake up and listen to the experts on this or a lot of money, time and effort will most likely be wasted.James Kelaher is clearly a very sensible bureaucrat who has strong principles regarding doing things in the national interest and exposing arrant stupidity.
Well done James!
It should be noted that the writer still has major concerns about the robustness of the proposed smartcard as an e-health patient identifier and hopes the need for e-health levels of ID integrity will not be glossed over in the rush to implementation.