Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - 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."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Australian Health Ministers Council Tell NEHTA to Get Privacy Act Together!

The following is the communiqué from AHMC released yesterday.

The full text is found here:


The relevant part from a privacy e-health perspective is as follows.

Australian Health Ministers’ Conference


5 March 2009

Privacy consultation and individual healthcare identifier

Consistent with the Council of Australian Governments agreement that all Australian residents will be allocated an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI), Health Ministers agreed to continuing consultations on privacy protections that will be necessary to underpin this important health initiative.

The IHI will support better linkage of patient information and communication between healthcare providers involved in patient treatment, but will not need to be declared for an individual to receive healthcare. The IHI will not replace the Medicare number, which is used for claiming government healthcare benefits.

Implementation of the IHI will be supported by a strong and effective legislative framework that includes governance arrangements, permitted uses and privacy safeguards.

Strong privacy protection for patient health information is fundamental to delivering high quality individual and public health outcomes. Individuals rightly expect a high level of protection for their personal health information.

It is essential that privacy arrangements appropriately meet community expectations and balance the need to protect the privacy of personal information with the healthcare benefits that can be gained through better sharing of health information.

Government consultations are currently underway about the recommendations contained in the report by the Australian Law Reform Commission of its review of Australian privacy laws, including health privacy protections.

Further consultations are now planned to build on stakeholder feedback that has already been provided on the ALRC proposals and provide an opportunity to consider particular issues relating to privacy safeguards for national E-Health initiatives. A report on the outcomes will be provided to COAG by mid-2009. Arrangements for consultation are being developed.

More work will have to be done on this before an IHI can be implemented.


Well it seems we rather need rather more work that some were anticipating – and as I suggested earlier in the week



First we need to consult, then develop a report, then have report approved.

Once that is done, then there will need to be legislation developed and enacted before any serious implementation can begin. Sadly, because NEHTA did not have its act together and pro-actively have the required privacy work done (which it has known needed to be done at least a year ago) I doubt we will see any serious implementations until mid 2010.

Pretty annoying for those awaiting this core infrastructure.

In the mean time who knows what little traps are lurking in the other NEHTA plans that might further delay important initiatives? They don’t share the details as they might (e.g. who really knows what is planned for the IEHR) and until they do no-one can be confident unexpected hurdles won’t emerge!



Anonymous said...

Of course there will be similar, if not worse, traps in NEHTA's IEHR plans.

Attending various meetings with NEHTA around the IHI and IEHR involving representatives from health areas, such as GPs, pharmacists, etc., the meetings always progress the same way:

1. NEHTA presents their latest plans
2. GPs, etc, appear stunned and incredulous that these plans are being proposed.
3. Incredulity is then replaced by hilarity as people realise that NEHTA's latest plan has no relationship to the real world.
4. Hilarity is replaced with a sort of pot-shot game, as various health reps ask NEHTA how a plan will work with this scenario, then that senario

Everyone comes away with the impression that NEHTA has no idea how the health industry works in real life. Sadly, it rapidly becomes apparent that NEHTA in it's current form will never deliver anything of value around ehealth.

Anonymous said...


Thought you might find this exciting. I've just discovered what NEHTA is actually spending that $200million or more on, and what their staff of 250 people are busily engaged in delivering.

How did I discover this ... all is revealed in a slide deck posted by NEHTA's Andy Bond after a presentation to the Human Factors in Health Conference.

The answer: Dazzling, pretty pictures. You too can have a look yourself at http://www.nehta.gov.au/whats-new

Now these are very pretty arhitecture diagrams - obviously someone (or rather many people) have spent a lot of time lining up the boxes just right, getting just the right icons and colours. You simply couldn't get this level of awesome creativity without dozens of architects furiously arguing in front of a whiteboard. I'd imagine a graphic artist has had a hand in putting them together just right, and give them just that touch of pizzazz.

Such a pity the pretty pictures seem utterly pointless on closer examination (unless of course you have no experience of real world health IT [which fortunately your readers do] - then you would probably be prone to oooh and ahhhh over the diagrams (as I would imagine many in NEHTA are doing right now))

Wonderful to see that NEHTA has such artistic talent though. I for one am confident that with artistic talent like this, they simply cannot fail to deliver.

I particularly love the slide on 'community architecture' highlighting the revolutionary concept of connecting together organisations via a new technology called, wait for it, the 'Internet'. One can only hold their breath in exasperation at the possibilities this 'Internet' may hold.

After all this is the 'year of delivery'. Get ready for a wave of what software vendors do best with their mix of marketing and system architecture - some wonderful NEHTA markitechture is coming your way soon. Prepare to be dazzled, amazed and enthralled.

Just don't expect anything to be delivered - although, who knows, this is after all the 'year of delivery' (albeit of 2 minor pilots to commence before December!!!)

One thing is certainly clear - the new fearless CEO and Chairman have ushered in a new NEHTA, one that's certainly going to have a more polished image thanks to the artistic talents of his team and the occasional marketing professional and graphic designer.

David, you may need to recruit some graphic artists of your own just to keep up - your blog's terrific but your readers may just be blinded by the simply dazzling awesomeness of NEHTA in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

Despite what commentator Friday, March 06, 2009 8:45:00 PM says NEHTA feels entirely comfortable.

It has every reason to be so. It has as its Clinical Lead Dr Murkesh Haikerwal a real gentleman and a scholar, well respected by his colleagues, politicians and bureaucrats. He leads a team of clinical advisers who represent a cross section of medical domains and specialties.

It is upon the advice of this group that NEHTA depends for its guidance. You may recall Dr Reinecke set this group up as the way to move forward. He copied the idea from the UK CfH project. Copy cats have a habit of doing just that. He lacked the original thinking capacity required to come up with a better approach.

That Murkesh has been sucked into this hopeless vortex is through no fault of his own. To him it seemed like a good idea at the time to which he could make a valuable contribution. But his roots and extensive experience are predominantly general practice and that is insufficient to lead NEHTA where NEHTA needs to go.

Anonymous said...

I agree - the advisory group that Murkesh leads is not equipped to lead NEHTA from out of the wilderness. Good guys all of them but hey - how many of them have had anything to do with delivering successful solutions in health IT on the ground, in time, in budget. How many of them are thoroughly versed with hands on experience in the complexities of health in all its dimensions and in the fast, fickle, technical world of information and communications technology as it relates to health software vendors and end users? Few if any I venture to suggest.

Anonymous said...

Here is the most recent list available of the Clinical Leaders upon whom NEHTA depends for direction.

Murkesh Haikerwal - Clinical Lead
John Aloizos, GP
Sharmila Biswas, GP
Ben Connell, Ophthalmologist
Peter Del Fante, GP
David Evans, Medical Superintendent
Gail Easterbrook, Pharmacist
Trina Gregory, GP
Hugh Greville, Specialist - Thoracic Medicine
Rob Hosking, GP
Charles Howse, GP
John Kastrissos, GP
Leonie Katekar, CEO
Henry Konopnicki, GP
Stephen Lew, GP
Tony Lembke, GP
Tim Logan, Pharmacist
Trevor Lord, GP
Andrew Miller, Radiation Oncologist
Chris Pearce, GP
Bernard Pearn-Rowe, GP
Jeff Urquhart, GP
Chris Wagner, GP

Anonymous said...

I must agree with your commentator about the slide show graphics - very skilful, and conveying almost nothing by way of useful information.

I was reminded of my first look at the functional diagram of dataflows for the EHR trial at Hunter Area Health Service, which resembled a working diagram of a sheep's intestine.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone comes away with the impression that NEHTA has no idea how the health industry works in real life.".... said your commentator of Friday, March 06, 2009 8:45:00 PM.