Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Australian E-Health Standards Process Seems To Be Going Down The Gurgler. This Really Matters.

I ran a poll on the blog last week.
AusHealthIT Poll Number 165  – Results –  30th April, 2013.
The question was:

Has The Process Of E-Health Standards Setting In Australia Gone Off The Rails?

For Sure 67% (28)
Probably 14% (6)
Probably Not 2% (1)
No - It Is Fine 12% (5)
I Have No Idea 5% (2)
Total votes: 42
Looks like a very clear majority think we have a train-wreck here.
Looks like this was almost a prescient poll.
Over the weekend news has emerged from a range of sources a what is described by insiders as a total corruption of the governance of Standards Australia’s (SA) processes around e-Health Standards and the IT-14 E-Health Standards Committee.
What I am hearing is that SA’s approval of the publication of the Electronic Transmission of Prescription Australian Technical Standard has been ‘rammed through’ despite the objection of some major organisations and jurisdictions who sit on the top level IT-14 Committee. This Committee  is simply not able to approve such publication without a genuine consensus - which apparently presently does not exist.
The home page for Australian E-Health Standards setting is here. You can read all about what IT-14 does here.
The Standards Australia IT - 14 Committee has senior representation from the following:


The organisations involved in IT-014 constituted committee are listed below:
Aged Care Association Australia
Allied Health Professions Australia
Australasian College of Health Informatics
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
Australian Association of Pathology Practices Inc
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
Australian Industry Group
Australian Information Industry Association
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
Australian Institute of Radiography
Australian Medical Association
Australian Private Hospitals Association
Central Queensland University
Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing
Consumers Federation of Australia
Consumers Health Forum of Australia
CSIRO e-Health Research Centre
Department of Health (South Australia)
Department of Health (Western Australia)
Department of Health (Victoria)
Department of Human Services
Edith Cowan University
Engineers Australia
GS1 Australia
Health Informatics Society of Australia
Health Information Management Association of Australia
HL7 Australia
Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Australia
Medical Software Industry Association
National e-Health Transition Authority
National Health Information Management Group
National ICT Australia
NSW Health Department
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
Queensland Health
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators
Royal College of Nursing, Australia
Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia
The University of Sydney
The University of Western Sydney
The list is found here:
Hardly a collection of ill-informed or ignorant rat-bags here! If there are representatives of organisations like this that are not satisfied with a specification then it simply must not be published as a Standard (AS) or Aust. Tech. Spec. (ATS) - it is really as simple as that.
I am told by experts in the area that such over-riding of expert objections is pretty much unprecedented in the 90 years of operation of SA. It would be a great pity if the pressure from Federal Government and its organs push through the publication of a Standard which acknowledged experts in the area feel is incomplete and potentially unsafe.
Obvious questions all this raises (if what I am told is true) are:
1. What is the legal status of vendors and software developers who find the standards are incomplete, unsafe or unworkable because the process was not properly finished?
2. Why does the organisation that sets the Standards for Australian Food Safety, the Standards that prevent you  being electrocuted think it is OK to take short cuts with the quality and safety of the technology that supports health/pharmacy by not following properly consensual processes?
Somehow all this makes the work of the genuine unpaid volunteers- and there are many who have worked very long hours -not just industry, but practice managers and others - a waste of time if the procedural underpinnings are flawed and possibly unsafe.
The bottom line is that, if what I am hearing is true, we are seeing a very serious corruption of processes the public has come to trust and that this is simply unacceptable.
One can only suggest that SA re-convene the relevant committee(s), obtain genuine and effective consensus - if that is possible - and then move to publication.
Without this being done this is a travesty. As others have said we really need technical standards setting being done by experts in the area - not bureaucrats with potentially conflicted responsibilities.
As a side note I see that NEHTA has now finally given up creating a PCEHR Standards catalogue I mentioned here:
The link is now dead:
Oh dear, oh dear.


Anonymous said...

NEHTA has lost its way for certain and set its articles of incorporation ablaze in the process.

Maybe Agenda Item #1 at its next Board meeting might be to revisit its original and still standing Objects of Incorporation and reflect how and why it has so desperately lost its way at taxpayers expense.

If NEHTA's directors can't acknowledge and address this, then the sooner they execute NEHTA's sunset clause and disperse its assets back to its owners (taxpayers) the better!

Anonymous said...

The Standards Australia IT-014 constituted committee has senior representation from 46 Committees.

I am afraid. I am very afraid.

Trevor3130 said...

What's this?
I am afraid. I am very afraid.
Why? Do you mean you've never seen a committee of more than twelve make effective use of the time?

Anonymous said...

Let's put it this way Trevor-the bigger the Committee the bigger the mess.

Anonymous said...

But for standards development the whole point is the more broad the representation the less the mess.