OK, I have now had 24 hours to consider how to respond to the document released by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC).
The report is available for download here:
In a few words I am ‘shocked and amazed’ at what has just happened.
AHMAC, for reasons it chooses not to publicly explain, has released about 20 pages of the 120 page document which was developed by Deloittes. ( As expected the summary report was released Friday afternoon close to Christmas to minimise any negative reaction!)
There are some very good principles to be found among the pages we have been given but sadly, without significant funding, it can and will go absolutely nowhere and its development has been a total waste of time.
These good things include focus on applications and messaging, standards, conformance and certification, governance, and incremental staged approach and getting basic infrastructure in place.
Sadly all this will cost some money to plan and implement – and there is neither funding, organisational will or organisational responsibility for moving the strategy forward identified
Actually, what was released is a classic case of bureaucratic ‘box ticking’. A country has to have a published National E-Health Strategy – so now we have one. Sad it is a total unfunded fraud on all those who have been waiting for some sign of change over the last 4 years since the bureaucrats last decided they would not invest in Health IT (When HealthConnect morphed from a real project into a “change management strategy”). Frankly I don’t think the box has been ticked if you don’t ensure action after planning.
What is worse still it is the same DoHA leadership people who did the blocking of funding act last time.
See here for the time line of that seven or so year saga:
It was July 2005 this happened and 3.5 years later we are very little further ahead.
I find it just astonishing that the Australian Health System cannot find the capability to invest 0.5% of its expenditure in technology that, in time, will allow it to become safer, more efficient and more sustainable. Sure I know times are tough – but they are going to become a great deal tougher and more difficult if this is not done – as every other advanced economy recognises.
While not perfect, the full Deloittes plan was a very good, sensibly costed roadmap of a pragmatic way forward which, if adopted, would have made a real difference. It would also have required some investment which it seems is simply not available for no sane reason.
This is so short-sighted it is just awful. As the title says it is a hoax on all those who actually care for our health system!
I wonder is there any chance there might be some funds in the up-coming Budget – due in May, 2009. We can only hope the $60M or so spent in “Program 10.2 e-Health Implementation” can be some core start-up funding to get something going. (That plus some of the apparent NEHTA underspend might make a vaguely useful, but very small, bucket!)
See here for 2008/09 budget details.