Quote Of The Year

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What Should be the Top Items on the New Health Ministers E-Health To-Do List?

Well, it seems we now have Ms Nicola Roxon as the new Federal Health Minister. Also in the health frame is Justine Elliot as Minister for Ageing. Sadly, and worryingly, it seems Health has lost its Parliamentary Secretary. With all that Hospital reform Ms Roxon will be a busy lady!

Correction - 2:15pm 30/11/2007. Somehow I missed that in fact we do have a new Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing - Senator Jan McLucas from Queenland! The Australian and the SMH some how seemed to have missed the fact yesterday - .

What are the big things that should be on Ms Roxon’s E-Health to-do list.

First all the memberships of all advisory committees that have any involvement in E-Health should be reviewed and the practical outcomes achieved by each of these committee members be the key criterion to be applied to decide if their ongoing contribution is to be invited. Advice, if needed, can be obtained from a range of independent, academic and industry sources. The Health Information Society of Australia would be a particularly useful source of input as would the members and fellows of the Australian College of Health Informatics who are not directly affected.

I am strongly of the view that there is need for significant generational change in the composition of these committees if we are to move forward.

Second the report of the Boston Consulting Group reviewing NEHTA should be made public and comments sought from interested parties for a 30 day period and then decisions should be taken on how NEHTA, or its various necessary functions, should continue.

Third to avoid any possibility of political ‘blowback’ the Auditor General should be invited to review the value for money and delivery aspects of NEHTA’s performance.

Fourth the incoming minister should have the Department release all the evaluation reports of all the various e-Health Projects conducted under the previous Government so for the first time we will be able to be had some real learning as to what actually worked and what did not. The formal evaluations of the various HealthConnect trials are crucial in this respect.

Fifth the incoming minister should request a full update on the status of all Commonwealth / State co-operative e-Health projects and initiatives and determine how much more investment is appropriate in which of them.

Sixth the incoming minister should review the current e-Health policy platform from the April Labor National Conference and determine the overarching implementation priorities.

Seventh the incoming minister should determine a Interim National E-Health Governance Framework to operate and assist with the delivery of the last item on the list.

Last the incoming minister should commission and sponsor the National E-Health Strategy, Business Case, Implementation Plan and Benefits Management Plan.

Frankly getting all that done that would make a great first year e-Health Plan.

Ms Roxon needs to remember that inactivity is death – and can lead you to be saying you failed utterly after four years as former Health Minister Abbot said just a few short days ago.

“Mr Abbott told delegates "not to hold your breath" for more Coalition promises on rural, IT or indigenous health.

He said he was frustrated nothing had come out of the Government's investment in IT, and he wasn't handing over any more money until outcomes were guaranteed, an industry journal reported.

Mr Abbott's frustration is unlikely to exceed that of industry players who have watched e-health programs and spending stall under his leadership. Tellingly, the Coalition did not claim credit for any e-health initiative in its health policy after 11 years in office.”

See the full article here

Not that I have ever suggested the idea before but it might just be a really good idea to, when next there is a re-shuffle, to consider having a Parliamentary Secretary / Minister for Patient Safety, Healthcare Quality and E-Health. Wouldn’t that be a great idea!

Good luck to all the new appointees!



This little extra on the perils of over-promising I could not resist!

I just came upon this classic on the Departmental Web Site. As such pages are likely to vanish quickly – and I thought this one was quite apposite – I pass it on. Note the Date! (14/10/2005)


Fact Sheets

e-Health: better information for better health

E-health is the collection, transfer and storage of health-related information such as patient medical histories or test results using computers and Internet technologies.

What is e-health?

Information and communications technology can be used to improve health services for the benefit of both consumers and health service providers such as doctors, by enabling more efficient management of vital health information.

E-health is the collection, transfer and storage of health-related information such as patient medical histories or test results using computers and Internet technologies.

What are the benefits of e-health?

More accurate and complete medical documentation and better communication among health care providers enables them to respond more quickly to patient needs, with less risk of mistakes. In an emergency, instant access to up-to-date patient information – for example allergies or current medications - can save lives.

The result is better care for patients, and greater efficiency and better informed decisions by doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Consumers will have access to more information about their health, so they can understand and help manage their own health care needs.

What is the Australian Government doing to advance e-health?

The central plank of national e-health will be a system known as HealthConnect, which is being jointly developed by the Australian Government and all states and territories.

HealthConnect is a major change management and e-infrastructure project which will link health information systems in hospitals, pharmacies, GP and specialist surgeries to enable secure access and instant availability of important medical information.

Over time, HealthConnect will also build up comprehensive patient medical histories which will be available on line to patients and, with patient consent, their doctors, at any place or time.

What will it cost?

The Australian Government has committed $128 million over four years to commence the national introduction of HealthConnect. State and territory governments are also contributing.

Around $50 million will be spent on subsidies to assist all general practices, Aboriginal health services and community pharmacies to adopt broadband Internet technology, to prepare them for HealthConnect and other uses (through the Broadband for Health initiative). Another $48.2 million will be spent to secure electronic links between health funds, hospitals and doctors.

How will HealthConnect affect consumers?

As HealthConnect develops, consumers will have the choice of storing their health information – conditions, treatments, medicines, and other relevant information –in a central repository. This summary record will be accessible only to health professionals authorised by the consumer. Consumers can also look up their own records, so they can make better informed decisions about their health care needs.

When will it start?

HealthConnect implementation began in 2005 in Tasmania, South Australia and the Katherine region of the Northern Territory. Other e-health projects which will link into the system will commence later this year in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, see the HealthConnect web site at www.healthconnect.gov.au.

Page last modified: 14 October, 2005


I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider the level of truth (or not) in this ‘Fact Sheet’.

We have been ‘a good and competent government’ Mr Abbott has been fond of saying recently – bah humbug say I!

I sure hope in two years time we won’t look back on a page like this and say ‘a pox on all their houses’, they all the same! Ms Roxon you ignore e-Health at your peril!



Dr Ian Colclough said...

The starting point for the new Federal Health Minister is to make certain she does not allow herself to get caught up in the ‘old ways of thinking’ about eHealth.

Health is a hugely complex industry. The barriers to the successful implementation of ehealth must first be identified and mapped. They are many, they are not hard to identify but they are very difficult to overcome. This requires ‘serious new thinking’ from well outside the square - well outside. The steps forward and upwards can then be constructed. The strategies required to advance safely, with minimal risk, at an affordable cost, in manageable steps, free of exaggerated promises, will then become apparent.

Australia has been blessed with another chance to get the development and deployment of ehealth right. If Australia is to be successful in doing this, the Minister must not throw caution to the wind in response to the pressures and urgings by the many who have been frustrated in the past by the shortcomings of the previous Government’s efforts to ‘advance ehealth’ nationally.

Ian Colclough
Integrated Marketing & eHealth Strategies

HI_Research said...

It seems to me that Australia has a GREAT opportunity to become THE world leader in healthcare information systems infrastructure.

I hope that you can take advantage of this opportunity! Good Luck.


LinkedIn Profile:http://www.linkedin.com/in/timothywaynecook

Anonymous said...

How right you are. Let us hope we don’t go blue in the face waiting to find out what the new Government proposes doing about putting ehealth on the rails.

The previous Government made a miserable mess of ehealth and spent too much time listening to inexperienced and ill-informed bureaucrats.

The new Government doesn’t have to do much. It just has to do ‘something’ and it has to do it competently. Australia may well have a GREAT opportunity to become ‘A’ world leader in healthcare information systems but that will not happen if it continues with the mentality of following the US or the UK.

Aus HIT Man said...


The new Government does not need to listen - but it sure needs to learn from all over the world. Otherwise we will wind up doing something others have found didn't work.

There is stuff that has worked from the US, Canada, the US and Europe. We need to pick the bits that suit us and our situation and execute well!


Anonymous said...

I think you are both right.

I think what you are both saying is: 1. the Government needs to listen - but it needs to listen to people with experience in health informatics - not ill-informed bureaucrats, and 2. it needs learn from all over the world to understand what did and didn’t work and adopt the good bits, and 3. it must plot a clear pathway ahead that is relevant to its needs and achievable, and 4. it must move itself out of the perpetual R&D mode that it (?nehta) seems to have got itself into and put some runs on the board that deliver demonstrable, practical and useful outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Having a ‘GREAT’ opportunity is one thing ………… but doing something about it is what really matters.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. The new Government does need to listen - it will not learn if it does listen.

Anonymous said...

Yep - learning, that can make a really big difference. A good starting point would be making the BCG Review of NEHTA public. It has to contain a lot of valuable input from industry. It might even contain input from the bureaucracy that would be informative if it had responded. Everyone could learn from that.

Anonymous said...

Having a ‘GREAT’ opportunity is one thing ………… but doing something about it is what really matters.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to see NEHTA’s response to the BCG Review made public. I reckon that could put a lot of minds to rest.

Anonymous said...

The BCG Review is the best starting point as it will help clear the air, illuminate what everyone is thinking, and draw a line in the sand from which to move forward. The Board should require that all points raised in the review be responded to in writing by Nehta’s executive and the response should be published so Nehta’s position can be known by all. Transparency is paramount to building the market's confidence in the process.