Quote Of The Year

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

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is this the Last Chance for AHIC and e-Health in Australia?

A few weeks ago we learned that the Australian Health Information Council (AHIC) will be holding a summit on June 18 (evening) and 19, involving AHIC and the National Health Information Management Principle Committee (NHIMPC) (See Terms of Reference as an Appendix).

We also learned that in its role of providing advice to inform national policy direction for health information to the Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Committee (AHMAC), AHIC wished to look strategically at the development of the national health information program out to 2013.

To ensure wide coverage by the summit, the consultants that were engaged to conduct a survey, were asked to develop a systematic analysis of:

• what’s worked and what hasn’t up until now
• where Summit participants and your constituencies (if relevant) stand on the health policy imperatives moving forward
• what should be in place by 2013 (or before) in terms of e-Health infrastructure and specific IT and communications tools to serve those health policy goals, and
• what might be the right model(s) moving forward.

We were also told the survey would be collated and presented in advance of the summit.

For there to be any real outcome from the summit over the next few weeks those interested in the e-health agenda will need to see the following:

1. The prompt publication of the detailed outcomes of the survey. The survey report should be open for public comment for at least six weeks and a second report, including relevant public input, should be provided to AHIC and the NHIMPC is due course.

2. The prompt publication of a detailed set of minutes of the strategic considerations explored by the summit and their views on the findings of the survey.

3. The announcement of a strategic planning process roadmap to develop, over time, a coherent and implementable strategic framework for e-health in Australia.

4. The announcement of a public consultation plan, to include all relevant stakeholders, to assist in framing the strategic options and choices available to Australia.

What is vitally important in all this is a recognition that a national e-Health Strategy and Framework cannot be developed in a month or two. The summit needs to determine how a genuine strategic outcome can be achieved and not in any way leap to any views without in-depth stakeholder consultation and option analysis.

If the AHIC planning process does not move beyond the presently closed and secretive approach that is presently being adopted with selective consultation and ‘say as little as possible’ AHIC Communiqu├ęs I for one will be confident of a deeply unsatisfactory outcome for this planning initiative.

The members of AHIC and the NHIMPC should have no doubt of the importance of the present summit and ensure the outcome of the meeting is a genuinely open and consultative strategy development process. While it may seem to be drawing a long bow, many lives will be lost un-necessarily unless e-Health in Australia is got firmly back on the rails. All in attendance should ensure this thought focuses their attention and effort.

The summit attendees can find an example of the way consultative processes should be run by reviewing the approach adopted by the American Health Information Community (AHIC) which is the same type of policy body for the United States as our AHIC is for Australia. See the following URL:

http://www.dhhs.gov/healthit/community/background/

I firmly believe this summit amounts to the last chance to see real progress in e-Health in this decade. I hope the attendees agree and work hard for a set of quality outcomes and ways forward.

If the next few weeks pass without something like I suggest coming to pass it will be the final proof, if any was needed, of the continuing inadequacy or ineptitude of all those influentially involved in the e-health policy formation and will put the seal on a wasted decade. Those whose lives and businesses are damaged by the continuing policy failures will have every reason to be very grumpy.

In summary, if the summit does not result in the initiation of a public, inclusive, consultative and expertly facilitated and developed National E-Health Strategy, Business Case and Implementation Plan that suits Australia’s unique health system, health financing, culture and geography it will clearly be a dismal failure in the eyes of most who know anything about the domain. This is the last roll of the dice!

The sooner some very intense sunlight shines on this very dank policy corner the better!

David.
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Appendix for Information
Terms of Reference of NHIMPC

The role of NHIMPC is to advise AHMAC on planning and management requirements and to manage and allocate resources to health information projects and working groups.

NHIMPC will:
• advise AHMAC on national priorities in IM&T;
• align the allocation of national resources with these national priorities and outcomes;
• accelerate development and adoption of information architectures and data standards;
• promote alignment of jurisdictional strategic plans and activities with agreed national priorities; and
• oversee national activities.

NHIMPC is a committee of government nominees that reflects the interests of governments which primarily funds, regulates and manages health information.

Comment: The apparent overlap between this Committee and AHIC would seem to be rather problematic. That might be a useful first step – to sort out which committee is responsible for exactly what?

D.

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