The e-Health Component of the Senate Estimates happened late in the afternoon yesterday - from about 4:30 till about 5:45pm.
The obfuscation was just fabulous. Peter Fleming was asked about the 2009 year of delivery and could not say what had happened then and so just chatted about where things have got to some 1.5 years later. He seemed happy - indeed claimed all the NEHTA projects were tracking to their ‘critical paths’ and that all was totally in hand. I seem to recall some detail on this was requested, on notice, so it will be interesting to see what is produced.
Sadly no-one asked about adoption, benefits and delivery of actual clinical outcomes.
The main achievement was that NEHTA actually turned up - after years of being utterly unaccountable.
There will be a transcript of the details in a day or so and we will subject the comments to the usual forensic examination - but sadly I think they think it was OK. It wasn’t by any stretch!
I am sure the questions on notice - on vacancy rates, consultant spends and the like will be fun in due course.
One area of questioning I found really quite amusing was when Senator Sue Boyce asked about staff morale and recruitment in the presence of the current drop dead date of June 30, 2012 for both NEHTA and the PCEHR Program. One can only imagine someone, somewhere has some plans but it was by no means clear the Peter Fleming (the NEHTA CEO) has any visibility on just what they care given his response to the questions.
It is also interesting that NEHTA has paid Medicare $14M for the IHI service and IBM $8M for NASH. I hope we see some actual use for these systems quite soon.
The main feature to my mind was, however, that we actually have set a precedent and now have expectations of at least a little more transparency every six months or so! This can only be a good thing. Even better would be value for money and efficiency audits of both NEHTA and the e-Health section of DoHA - conducted by the Auditor General. All other parts of Government are periodically reviewed to why not this area as well?