Well it has really be quite a year for e-Health in Australia in 2008.
In thinking about what has happened since Santa’s last visit (thanks to a reader for the term!) we have – ranked in importance in my mental map – the following:
1. Development of a National E-Health Strategy by Deloittes
2. Development of a Health IT Roadmap and Discussion paper for the NHHRC by Booz and Co.
3. A period of major change and transition and change at NEHTA (New CEO x 2 and major executive changes at least – but still a work in progress).
4. A COAG decision to continue NEHTA funding for another 3 years.
5. The emergence of IBA Health as a substantial (and Australian based) force in Health IT globally. (Usual share holding disclaimer applies)
6. Substantial change in the e-Health Leadership at DoHA very late in the day with continued silence from Ms Roxon on her position with respect to e-Health implementation.
7. Some really interesting scalable private initiatives in the e-Health domain with a few others I am very much less convinced about.
Despite some good things, however, we still have a long way to go. Hopefully 2009 can be the year of getting significant funding, improved governance and standards development and more implementation, better support of GPs, specialists and hospitals and a new era of improving message use and diversity.
There are some straws in the wind in the last week or two that lead me to see out 2008 with some hope and optimism.
First it is increasingly clear that the new NEHTA CEO (Peter Fleming) now has a clear view of much of what has gone wrong in the last 2-3 years and plans to set about fixing it. The loss of some senior management to date (CFO, CTO) may not be last as Mr Fleming reshapes the organisation to better deliver on its goals – with strong support from the Board. I am sure the NEHTA we have at the end of 2009 will be a much better one than we had in early 2008
Second there appears still to be a real chance of some funding to implement the Deloittes strategy coming either from the Health and Hospitals Fund or the May Budget.
See here for fund details.
As best I can tell the Act of Parliament – the Nation-building Funds Bill (2008) – which included the set up of the Health and Hospitals Fund - passed on the last day of Senate sitting (4 December, 2008) (amid some considerable chaos as I recall).
There also seems to be considerable recognition within government that the governance changes suggested by Deloittes are very important for future success.
Third there does seem to be an increasing political recognition that the performance of some bureaucrats in implementation of Health IT Policy and Plans may not have been as good as could have been expected.
Fourth there is a considerable change in the e-Health Branch at DoHA with Rob Cameron replacing Lisa McGlynn in the very recent past. The track record of this branch can only improve one might hope with less waste on silly one-off projects and more openness as to project outcomes.
Fifth I really think the NHHRC is recognising the need to make sure e-Health is a key ingredient of the reform agenda when it reports later in 2009.
Sixth I think the evidence of value in Health IT now found on the blog, the emergence of the Coalition for E-Health, the continuing growth of the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and the Health IT plans of President-elect Obama will contribute to significant forward momentum.
All in all I plan to go into 2009 on a positive and hopeful note.
Season’s compliments to all those who have put up with my rantings this year. (I am not promising any improvement – be warned
To all those pollies and bureaucrats offended by what I write – remember you are free to comment - and that we will all be better off if truth and openness prevail.
The blog will be back – baring amazing vital news - in the week beginning January 5, 2009
Safe and Happy Holidays!