For reasons I do not understand the following appeared as news a few days ago, but the reminder was useful!
Skills review to be completed by February 2008
- Sandra Rossi (Computerworld)
- 17 December, 2007 16:30
Struggling to recruit the necessary IT skills base required to push forward Australia's e-health reform agenda, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is looking to offshore outsourcing and other contractual measures to fill the resources gap.
Admitting the national IT skills shortage will result in serious "delays in delivery" for Australia's e-health framework, NEHTA is currently operating up to 50 per cent under budget due to recruiting delays.
The decision to look offshore for IT staff is necessary to ensure the implementation of electronic health records can begin in 2008 and follows an independent review of Australia's e-health framework by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The review examined NEHTA's progress since it was established in 2005 and found "labour capacity constraints" in the local market has forced timelines to be revised.
According to the BCG report e-health reforms are suffering from significant staffing shortfalls pointing out that: "ongoing shortfalls during the current financial year is likely to cause irreversible delivery delays. The biggest challenge has been recruiting staff and the increased resources required is extraordinary, roughly a doubling of personnel spend every year up until 2009."
This shortage has made it impossible to put standards in place for secure messaging with the report claiming NEHTA has been unable to "engage with users and standard bodies or build up accreditation or compliance."
To address the problem funding has increased to over $1.5 million in the 2007/8 financial year to try and overcome "under-resourcing issues" for the development of secure messaging standards.
A review is also underway to identify areas in urgent need of staffing and is expected to reach completion in February 2008.
Responding to the skills crisis, NEHTA today released an action plan for the implementation of electronic medical records in 2008.
The Board of NEHTA has endorsed a business case for developing a national platform for personal electronic health records to be put to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) early next year.
The NEHTA action plan outlines key areas for the adoption of measures to improve the electronic communication of critical health information.
NEHTA has been tasked with Australia's e-health reforms since it was established in 2005, and the body's chair Dr Tony Sherbon, said it is now in a position to deliver some concrete applications. Sherbon said the government's emphasis on the provision and use of broadband communications will assist NEHTA in advancing e-health. "The recent independent review found NEHTA had made significant progress on our goals to date and made a number of recommendations about NEHTA's future. The action plan we are announcing today flows directly from our acceptance of all the recommendations in the review," he said.
The review also called for closer consultation with stakeholders. Health industry professionals and the IT industry described NEHTA's engagement style as "dogmatic" with the review recommending implementation programs with bodies such as the Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian Association of Pathology Practices, various Divisions of General Practice and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia
Dr Sherbon identified the action plan as also being an acknowledgement of where NEHTA now needs to go in order to expedite e-health reform in Australia. "We have come to a point where many of the foundations to enable e-health are in a position where we can now move towards implementation and adoption," he said.
NEHTA's Board of Directors is composed of the heads of all nine government health departments in Australia. NEHTA's Action Plan for Adoption Success and the independent review of NEHTA conducted by the Boston Consulting Group are available on the NEHTA website at www.nehta.gov.au.
The full article is found here:
Bold emphasis is mine.
Note the date carefully. This is over 2 years ago and it is fair to say that as far as Electronic Patient Records are concerned there has been no detectable progress at all. Practical outcomes with anything else are still rather hard to identify 2 years later. One really wonders just what the public is paying for with NEHTA?
It is absolutely obvious that Dr Sherbon clearly had no idea what he was talking about (many foundations now in position and so on!) and no clue about the issues that stand in the way of the progress he was hoping for. I hope the new chairman has a much better grasp of reality. However labelling 2009 as the “Year of Delivery” suggests not a great deal has been learnt.
I wonder what 2010 holds for all of this. It’s a new year so let us be optimistic at least until we are in the situation of the individual marrying for the third time where the realise they are the victim of ‘Hope triumphing over experience’.
Happy New Year!