Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finally, An Communiqué from the Australian Health Information Council - Almost!

The Australian Health Information Council (AHIC) has finally released the communiqué you release when you don’t want to release a communiqué! To cover two meetings, of a still unknown number of members held over the last two and a half months, we get a single page notification that the meetings have been held.

What else do we learn?

1. The AHIC has a one year work program.

2. The Chairman is Professor James Angus, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

3. There are two executive committee members 1. Professor Enrico Coiera, Director of the Centre for Health Informatics, and Ms Yvonne Allinson, Executive Director of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. The rest of the membership is not disclosed.

4. The role of AHIC is now that “The AHIC gives independent policy advice to Australian health ministers through the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC). It provides the end users’ perspective on long-term directions and national strategic reform in health information management and information communication technology.”

5. A generalist Health, and non Health IT, consultant has been engaged to develop a yet to be finalised and possibly disclosed work plan for the next 12 months – after which time who knows what will happen.

6. There will be, at some future point, an e-Health Future Directions Summit, with members of the National Health Information Management Principal Committee being invited to attend.

7. The summit will examine the elements that will need to be in place in the next five to ten years to increase the provision of high-quality, timely information that will help consumers, clinicians and the health system to make the best decisions.

8. The new committee likes workshops rather than business meetings.

What have we not been told?

1. Just what the terms of reference of AHIC now are, who are the members and their affiliations, what were the criteria for selection and what proven track record do the members have in national health IT strategic planning.

2. Why AHIC just vanished and stopped meeting for approximately two years and has suddenly been resurrected.

3. What has happened to the AHIC web-site at www.ahic.org.au

4. Now we have resumed the a full work program – what were the outcomes of the old work program. (Does this remind anyone of the evaluation reports for the HealthConnect Trials?).

5. How end-users doing a future plan is going to influence the evolution of the supporting technology.

6. What is the relationship between AHIC and NEHTA? How are the work plans co-ordinated etc?

7. What are AHIC’s actual powers or is it just an advisory toothless tiger. The transmittal e-mail strongly suggests the latter.

“Subject: The Australian Health Information Council Communique - April 2007 [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Dear eHealth Industry Member

Please find enclosed the April 2007 Australian Health Information Council Communique for your information.

The Australian Health Information Council (AHIC) is a multidisciplinary expert group that provides advice to the Australian Health Ministers via the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) on information management and communications technology development in the health sector from the end user perspective.

AHIC is an advisory rather than a decision making body and works in conjunction with industry, the public and private health sectors and professional bodies to formulate strategic advice.

The Council is chaired by Professor James Angus, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, who also represents AHIC on the NHIMPC.

The AHIC has agreed that a Communique outlining their activities will be forwarded to eHealth industry members following each meeting.

The AHIC Secretariat is provided by the Department of Health and Ageing. Should you wish to contact the Secretariat please email ahic.secretariat – at- health.gov.au”

8. Other than one page communiqués are there going to be any substantive documents and reports produced by AHIC.

9. Is AHIC going to at any time publish minutes of meetings etc so those interested can be informed as to the directions considerations are taking.

10. What is to happen after the one year resurrection is over in April 2008.

11. What accountability will the AHIC members have for the outcomes in the e-Health domain.

12. What budget has been allocated to support the AHIC Strategic Planning Process?

The important point I see is that AHIC's role seems to be fundamentally different from the past. Rather than being concerned with e-health strategy and its implementation it is now an end user committee based on the assumption that it will all magically come technically together under NEHTA's skilful strategic guidance.

This is really nonsense - we need to get the user needs and the technology aligned and managed as part of a coherent forward plan. I don’t see AHIC being tasked or enabled to really undertake this. The complexity and subtlety of the plan that is required would severely test the Booze Allen’s and McKinsey’s of this world - The clinician engagement strategy of itself will need to be a masterpiece!

Some colleagues are suggesting I wait and see what happens over the next few months. From what I have seen so far I do not hold out much hope for real improvement unless the complexity of developing such a plan is fully recognised and addressed – and time allowed to consult very widely and get to some sensible answers.

I see it as vital there is a push pushing for openness and for doing this plan properly - rather than the planned approach of develop a briefing paper and having one day a meeting with 30 people around the table try to solve some really hard problems on a limited (very limited) information base of where everyone is up to (govt private sector, vendors etc), where the big gaps are and having no clear developed view of what is possible and doable and what the strategic choices really are.

I really feel that unless a really expert in-depth piece of work is done it won't go anywhere and another opportunity will be wasted.

Australia has done the lacking real depth type of planning exercise that is proposed couple of times in the last decade, and we find ourselves where we are.

I also don't think this can be done in chunks or parts - I really believe a proper job needs to be done - looking at current state of e-Health, e-Health governance, technology futures, clinician engagement approaches, costs, benefits, risk management, sector participation and so on.

Surely the lesson of the last decade is that if you do it by half you wind up with very little!

I believe it is time to give it one really good shot and get it right!.


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