The following popped up a day or so ago.
By Renai LeMay, ZDNet.com.au on October 8th, 2010
The nation's peak e-health group has released a comprehensive set of documents that outline how the Federal Government's $466.7 million electronic health identifier project will be implemented over the coming years, and how it will work in practice.
The project is slated to see all Australians allocated a unique identification number enabling medical records to be transferred — with their consent — between medical providers such as hospitals and general practitioner doctors electronically, rather than through paper records, as is often the case today.
However, so far details on how it will be implemented have been scant.
In the documents, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) said there would need to be three complementary programs of work to be undertaken for the project to move forward.
Firstly, a change management program would need to be carried out that would depend on what NEHTA said was the "nature of the healthcare business" and the current state of its IT systems. In this program, industry peak bodies will be involved as well as other organisations.
Secondly, NEHTA said medical software vendors would need to be provided with assistance so that their products could communicate with the healthcare identifier service. Well-designed specifications would need to be provided to assist with their implementation of standards.
Lastly, NEHTA said it would be necessary to identify and establish early adopter sites that could demonstrate the use of the technology in supporting outcomes. The organisation is planning to collaborate with key organisations that would be prepared to get involved early, which will produce lessons learned, research and toolkits from the process.
When I saw this I thought maybe we have a new era of openness and implementation competence emerging from NEHTA. Sadly it is just not the case in my view.
Actually far from being comprehensive what we are given in two documents (an HI Service Implementation Approach (39 pages) and a Communications Plan (15 pages) that are as high level and vague as is possible to be. They also are often rather naïve and uninformed about the world of Health IT outside Australia.
The guts of all this is found on page 14.
2. How will the HI Service be implemented?
Healthcare providers in both the private and public sector have made significant investments in technology over the past 20 years. Australian governments have agreed that any national program must recognise this investment and build on existing systems.
The HI Service has been established to:
- Implement and maintain a national system for uniquely identifying healthcare providers and individuals;
- Develop and operate a Healthcare Provider Directory to facilitate electronic communication between providers by enabling them to locate and verify the contact details of other providers;
- Operate in conjunction with a standardised authentication infrastructure and comply with international best practice for information security.
A number of service channels are being established for both individuals and providers to access the HI Service. Healthcare providers (individuals and organisations) will be able to look up or enquire about identifiers from the HI Service via a secure business-to-business (B2B) web service, a secure web portal or telephone. Individuals will also be able to access their own information held by the HI Service through a web portal, by telephone or face-to face at Medicare Australia Offices. Patients will be able to find out which healthcare providers have accessed their IHI by reviewing an audit log held by Medicare Australia.
Identifiers have been automatically assigned by the HI Service Operator to all individuals enrolled in Medicare Australia’s and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) programs.
Those not enrolled with Medicare Australia or the DVA can be provided with a temporary (unverified) IHI when they seek healthcare, and can choose to validate (verify) this number through the HI Service by providing sufficient demographic information to ensure the IHI is uniquely assigned to that individual.
Individual healthcare providers have been issued with either a HPI-I as part of their professional registration process through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or may obtain one directly from the HI Service.
Healthcare organisations will need to apply directly to the HI Service Operator to be issued with a HPI-O.
Healthcare identifiers are designed to improve information management and communication in the delivery of healthcare and related services. While identifiers are designed primarily for these purposes, there will also be benefits for other health-related purposes. For example the timeliness and accuracy of health research and management of health services could be improved through the use of healthcare identifiers. These purposes are specified in the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 and will be permitted only in accordance with rules for access.
----- End Extract
Having read this are you any the wiser as to how the HI Service will be implemented? I am not.
The more you read of the document the more you just shake your head in horror. Classics I noticed going through were:
In addition, implementation plans will be developed in consultation with parts of the sector, e.g. primary care, jurisdictions and aged care.
And, on asks, what about the rest of the health system?
The document refers to being guided by the National E-Health Strategy which remains unfunded and ignored except when convenient for DoHA or NEHTA.
The linkage between the HI Service, Identifiers and the claimed benefits is fatuous on any careful analysis.
There is a lot of discussion of the PCEHR but read here:
1.3 Personally controlled electronic health records
While the HI Service does not store any health information, it provides a foundation for future e-health initiatives such as the personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) that was outlined in the 2010-11 Federal Budget.
The national system will enable all Australians who choose to participate, to register online for their PCEHR from 1 July 2012. Australians will be able to check their health history online through their own electronic health record.
The PCEHR system will enable improved sharing of critical health information and better integration of patients’ care across multiple healthcare providers and settings. It will help patients experience smoother transitions between healthcare providers, reducing waste and inefficiency and enabling better and safer care that is more responsive to patients’ needs.
With a patient’s consent, the PCEHR system will allow an authorised healthcare professional to view a summary of health information from a range of providers. Summary health information will become richer over time and include key clinical information, such as conditions, treatments, medications, test results, allergies and alerts. The PCEHR system is a key building block in the National Health and Hospitals Network.
A key element of the PCHER system’s implementation will be through lead implementation sites that will test and evaluate key health information exchange between participating healthcare providers. This staged approach will ensure that lessons learnt through these lead implementation sites are responded to and subsequently, inform the future national roll-out of the system. This will enhance sustainability of the system and improve benefits to patients.
The purpose of the lead implementation sites will be to:
· Deploy and test national e-health infrastructure and standards in real world health care settings;
· Demonstrate tangible outcomes and benefits from funded e-health projects;
· Build stakeholder support and momentum behind the national PCEHR system work
· program; and
· Provide a meaningful foundation for further enhancement and roll-out of the national PCEHR system.
The PCEHR system will be underpinned by rigorous governance, national standards and planning, as well as core infrastructure requirements.
----- End Extract.
I find it interesting that this does not say these pilots are implementing the HI Service. If they all were one might have expected they would say so.
2.2 How will the health sector adopt and use identifiers?
The use of HIs will be progressively adopted by the health sector to support strategic initiatives and priorities at the national, state and territory levels including for example in the areas of medications management, discharge summaries, and referrals, as well as a future PCEHR program. Identifiers may be used for internal clinical purposes as well as for information exchange between healthcare providers. There will be different drivers across the healthcare sector for using healthcare identifiers. Most healthcare organisations will ultimately only adopt identifiers when their systems are able to support them and if they see value in making the change.
And lastly on Page 20”
“Based on overseas experience and feedback from Australian healthcare providers and their associations, the characteristics of B2B systems will be most appealing to small-to medium sized healthcare providers such as general practices, allied health professionals and specialists. These providers generally run efficient operations using standard off-the-shelf software. They are amenable to changing their business practices where there is a clinical benefit to be gained and where the change will not affect their efficiency or require significant retraining of staff. Access to the HI Service through a B2B connection meets these requirements.”
And there is the rub, as all providers can see at present in possible future benefit but real difficulties with avoiding major workflow impacts in the present.
I would suggest the big gaps here are as follows:
First there is not actually a real Implementation Plan! What we have here is motherhood and waffle
Second there is not an explicit allocation that leads to a resourced, funded and staffed implementation.
Third there is no clue as to how leadership and governance is to work - just saying Health Ministers will do it is a joke. Who is actually going to lead and deliver this do you imagine?
Fourth there is absolutely no firm rationale offered as to why anyone would go to the bother and expense of adopting the HI Service. The document talks of incentives but offers no concrete proposals.
Fifth there is no Resource Plan covering who, what, when, budgets etc. Without this you can tell this is one of those rather hopeful ‘Build it and They Will Come’ sort of projects. They don’t work often in my experience
Fifth note there are no explicit targets and timelines. Shows you they are not sure how it will go I believe.
Last, although the draft of all this was apparently put out for consultation there is no obvious summary of the consultation and change list from draft. Besides some graphics changes they are pretty similar.
You can read it all from this link:
The alleged comment made by a senior NEHTA official that “implementation is not NEHTA’s problem, and that they are there to design perfection’ sure rings true!
Watch this unravel - from their timelines it already seems to be behind. Without a properly resourced and led implementation, backed by appropriate incentives and undertaken with a solid well considered sector wide implementation plan (developed by project managers who know what they are doing) this is a dead duck!