Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

HealthConnect Waste of Money Alert!

A day or so the following advertisement was brought to my attention.

HealthConnect Project Manager

Added: 27/06/2007

Fixed Term Full Time at Bendigo Hospital

Are you an experienced project manager interested in progressing the implementation of electronic health records in the Bendigo Loddon region? This position provides a fantastic opportunity to apply your skill in project management to progress the Victorian electronic health agenda.

The initial HealthConnect solution in Bendigo will result in a secure means of communication between health professionals involved in client care through the provision of access to a client’s summary health record. It will support the processes involved in complex integrated and coordinated care delivery while protecting the sensitivity of health care information.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the implementation of the Shared Electronic Health Record solution across Bendigo Health and its Consortium agencies.

Applicants should ideally have a tertiary qualification in a Health, Business or Information Technology discipline. Demonstrated skills and experience in project management are required for this position. Excellent communication skills and an ability to work with clinical staff and IT staff alike is essential. On line applications only

Title: HealthConnect Project Manager

Salary: To be negotiated

Hours: Full-time or as negotiated (Bendigo Health applicants may be considered for secondment)

Status: Fixed term until July 2008

Police check: Will be required from external applicants at time of commencement

Salary Packaging & Salary sacrificing: Available

Selection Criteria

  • Experience in setting up and managing large projects in a complex environment, ideally in a healthcare or hospital/community health setting.
  • Experience in liaising and communicating with key project stakeholders, with effective outcomes.
  • Experience in establishing or working with project Steering Committees and other high level committees.
  • Proven ability to communicate, both verbally and in writing, in a clear, concise and logical and effective manner.
  • Proven ability to set realistic deadlines and motivate and manage staff to ensure these deadlines are met.
  • Possessing complex analytical, conceptual and planning skills.
  • Knowledge of project management techniques, tools and methods.
  • Knowledge of information systems and processes and their role in a modern health organisation.
  • Knowledge of current technologies and processes and their role in promoting re-use of business processes, particularly in healthcare.
  • Experience in information system analysis, design or consolidation.
I the found there was another job being advertised for this project manager's boss!


Executive Director - Information Services, Bendigo Health

  • New key leadership role
  • Tree change opportunity
  • Attractive remuneration package

Bendigo Health is one of the state’s major healthcare providers with a 672 bed multidisciplinary service and around 3000 staff. This newly created position reports to the Chief Executive and will participate as an important member of the Executive Team.

The key purpose of this role is to:

Direct, coordinate and deliver systems support to Bendigo Health operations

Lead the ongoing maintenance and development of the Group’s

Communications and Information Technology (CIT) services

Take a leadership role within the Loddon Mallee Regional Alliance in the development of an integrated regional “health of health information” resource.

Primarily the successful applicant will be responsible for planning and managing the provision of information and information systems to support effective and efficient health care delivery and meet the strategic business objectives of Bendigo Health. In addition, planning and implementation of the CIT improvements that will support the delivery and ongoing development of integrated health services throughout Bendigo Health in line with the key outcomes of the Strategic Plan.

The successful applicant will be tertiary qualified (in CIT preferably with postgraduate studies) and be a credible, results oriented, effective and efficient IT professional. Sound problem solving skills with a systemic perspective together with the ability to manage for growth and understand the bigger picture are essential. Further information on the role requirements are contained in the Position Brief including the Key Selection Criteria (KSC).

The state of play in Health Information in this region – which covers about ¼ of Victoria occupying the north west section of the state is described in the 2005 / 6 Annual Report. To quote:

“Health Information Services

The vast amount of patient activity at Bendigo Health means a great deal of record-keeping and that is the role of Health Information Services. As an illustration of the increased activity, the number of records through the Homer tracking system has grown in the past five years from 176,264 in 2000/01 to 294,440 in 2005/06 – an increase of 60 per cent.

The average size of a patient record has increased by almost 87 per cent in the past 10 years, and 154 per cent in the past 20 years.

Patient records:

This year Health Information Services started using the acute patient record for all hospice and rehabilitation inpatient episodes – resulting in improved communication between campuses and continuity of patient care.

Despite increased patient numbers, Health Information Services has consistently completed timely coding of records for all inpatient episodes across Bendigo Health. Staff have also begun the benchmarking of key service activities against external organisations – both major metropolitan and rural.

Electronic discharge summary:

Staff have begun trialling an electronic discharge summary, developed in house by information technology staff based in the Surgical Unit. Next year it will be introduced across all units of the acute campus. The electronic discharge summary is updated at discharge and forwarded on to a patient’s general practitioner. It also allows for direct links to diagnostic results.

Next year Health Information Services will be investigating and implementing electronic reporting of pathology and radiology reports. This will reduce the volume of documentation stored in patient records and provide an audit trail of the viewing of all results.

Advanced coding:

The Health Information Manager has completed the HIMAA Advanced Coding course. These advanced skills will contribute to the promotion of accurate coding of inpatient episodes, achieving maximum WIES potential for Bendigo Health. (WIES is a funding formula for the acute campus).

In renal dialysis, auto coding has been introduced and it has reduced the time taken to code these episodes per month from around four days to 15 minutes. Introducing bar-coding of the patient identification number on patient records has meant improved accuracy in tracking patient records within Health Information Services and has streamlined identification of patients for the Pharmacy Service.”

Further on we learn about the technology directions of the Region.

Information and Communication Technology:

A small team of computer experts and communication technicians keeps the huge amount of electronic information accessible to clinical, support and administration staff.

Virtual Private Network:

Achievements this year include implementing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for data communications. This is improving security and reliability of the data network to Bendigo Health’s remote offices. There are some 18 office locations now serviced. This was previously provided by the use of VPNs over the internet, but this meant that data traffic was competing with other internet users’ data traffic which can inhibit performance. In conjunction with our Internet Service Provider Bendigo Community Telco, we have created a corporate Virtual Private Network which means that no data traffic travels over the internet, and all traffic comes back to a central point, where it is monitored.

Data Network Security:

Following a review of the way clients access email and applications, and their ability to access their data from remote locations, a security hardware solution was purchased. This has enabled all email to be encrypted between Bendigo Health’s data network and all remote users, wherever they are on the internet.

Secure email to GPs:

We have set up the Collaborative Health Unified Message System – a secure email system which
delivers pathology results over the internet to GPs. Once the results are authorised, they are encrypted and delivered so GPs can view them and allocate them to their correct clients in an electronic medical directory. Results were previously downloaded and a paper record was also delivered. Now there is no need for paper records to be sent. The Collaborative Health Unified Message System has been a joint project between the Pathology and Information and Communication Technology departments of Bendigo Health, the Bendigo Division of GPs, and our pathology application provider, Kestral.

New website:

In conjunction with the Public Relations unit, Information and Communication Technology staff have organised the smooth transition to our new website (still located at www.bendigohealth.org.au ). The website information has been updated and presented in a more user-friendly fashion. We encourage feedback from the public, patients, clients, supporters and job seekers; to assist, there is a form available on the website.

Systems integration:

The setting up of an interface between our Patient Management system and our Pharmacy system has further reduced duplication of information and data transcription errors.

Installing the Birthing Outcomes System in our Maternity Services has meant replacing a paper records system with a fully electronic patient record.

Bendigo Health has been selected as one of two health consortia to develop and implement a Shared Electronic Health Record as part of Victoria’s role in the National e- Health Agenda -HealthConnect. This will be an exciting time.

We have also participated in the tender, selection and contract negotiation of a state-wide PictureArchiving Communication System (also known as digital medical imaging) and there will be more on this next year.

This system will eliminate 90 per cent of “film” (x-ray) printing and save around $200,000 per year, with all images available digitally on computer when and where they are needed.

Unique patient record and electronic discharge summary

The Systems Integration team has worked on both these projects.

Bendigo Health had two patient management systems in place - for acute and sub-acute patients so if a patient moved between the two they had two different identifying, (UR) numbers. The development of a single patient medical record is saving time and improving patient flow across the continuum of care. It also is allowing for the development of other improvements such as electronic discharge summaries for acute, sub-acute and psychiatric areas.

The electronic discharge summary is explained in more detail on Page 39.”

What all this describes is a health care service organisation that has quite obsolete patient administration systems that has had a few technical people trying to provide a few additional small systems where they can. This is not a technically advanced base on which new and improved systems should sensibly be developed.

While not wishing to be a kill-joy this is obviously a budgetary clean out project to spread some budgetary largesse into the region from the long since dead HealthConnect.

How can one develop an electronic health record sharing project in the absence of a clinical system (which Homer is certainly not) to create the information that is to be usefully shared? Unless I totally miss the mark the region does not have the source systems to feed any form of useful Shared EHR that could provide worthwhile care co-ordination – and certainly not in the next 12 months.

After the number of years spent trying to develop a useable and viable HealthConnect what are the chances anything new, useful or innovative will come from a project conducted in this infrastructure poor area. Very low indeed I would suggest.

One would hope that if someone of the competence of the person sought in this advertisement was to be found they would be much better tasked with replacing the obsolete 20 year old Homer PAS system and devoting whatever spare time they had to implementing results reporting – rather than undertaking yet another demonstrate nothing, doomed to fail, ill-conceived record sharing project that can’t be NEHTA compliant as NEHTA has yet to get its act properly together on the Shared EHR front and define how the SEHR should be done and deployed.

I wonder what other money wasting projects the last dying gasps of HealthConnect will choose to pour out taxpayer provided funds out on.


Note: I regret the long quotes from the 2005/6 Annual Report – but this was by far the best way to get a feel of the IT maturity of the region. This is not a place to innovate within at this point in time – it is a place that needs basic clinical and administration systems got in place and settled in first. That is where the money should be going.



Anonymous said...

What a terrific opportunity.

Have you seen that wonderful play Charlie’s Aunt? I recall the line “Charley’s Aunt from Brazil - where the nuts come from.” You will be interested to know that Charlie’s Aunt is a close relative of my father’s brother who lives in Bendigo where the gold comes from. Isn’t that just the most insane coincidence?

Do you think this "HealthConnect Waste of Money!" could be transformed into gold in some way? I don’t have “a tertiary qualification in a Health, Business or Information Technology discipline” but I am a fully qualified Alchemist and I’ve always wanted to live in the country. I think they will need the services of a skilled Alchemist. I will apply immediately.

In lieu of a salary I would be happy to accept the Deed of Title to the HealthConnect Goldmine. A big shiny nugget or two shouldn’t be too hard to extract. A bit of shoring up might be required, because it looks as though it could be quite a dangerous posting with all those mine tunnels supporting an area which extends across “about ¼ of Victoria occupying the north west section of the state ……”. (as the 2005 / 6 Annual Report says).

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, what a waste of money! This solution, as I think has been pointed out in this forum previously, is already commercially available from a number of suppliers including MyMedicalRecords.com.au and HealthE. From a technical point of view a simple approach is usually the most effective both from an implementation and cost perspective. I'm not sure what the likes of HealthE cost (certainly cheaper than Health Connect I'll wager) but MyMedicalRecords can be as cheap as a few dollars per patient per year. So it doesn't take many Executive Directors salaries to pay for the provision of EHR's to the entire population of Bendigo.

Anonymous said...

There's been an few interesting articles on ModernHealthCare.com on PHR's/EHR's recently topped off by a post from a VP from MedicAlert in the US. Please take a look at http://www.modernhealthcare.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770706018

Interesting to note that the service provider to MedicAlert is MyMedicalRecords.com. So the solution is here and available now. No need to waste any more tax payers money!!