The following report in today’s Australian Financial Review tells the story.
Credit crisis takes patient records off the agenda
Monday, 06 October 2008 | The Australian Financial Review | Ben Woodhead
The health sector is shifting its hopes for the approval of a new plan to make the health records of every Australian resident available online to November after the issue was pushed to the sidelines at the Council of Australian Governments meeting last week.
Health-care providers and clinicians were anticipating that state and federal ministers would review a National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) business case for a national, individual electronic health record (IEHR) at COAG.
However, turmoil in the global economy dominated discussions, leaving the health industry left to hope that the business case will be considered at the next COAG meeting on November 17.
A November 28 meeting of the Australian Health Ministers Conference in Brisbane is also likely to be a target for clinicians and technologists who are increasingly eager to have elements of a national IEHR in place by the end of 2012.
A spokeswoman for NEHTA on Friday confirmed that the authority's business case did not make the COAG agenda amid discussions of the pall spreading throughout worldwide financial markets.
“So far no new date has been set for COAG discussions around an individual electronic health record and NEHTA funding arrangements" the spokeswoman wrote in an emailed response.
She declined to comment further, but it is understood that NEHTA staff and the organisation's board are disappointed that the business case was not discussed as COAG had loomed large on the organisation's calendar for much of the year.
Much more here:
There are a few things to be said here.
First, maybe if NEHTA actually made the non-commercial parts of their case public – along with the Benefits Case developed by the Allen Consulting Group - there might be an opportunity for the various interested parties to support the proposal. Not knowing just what is proposed and what it might roughly cost makes any rational support difficult.
Second the article wrongly suggests the Deloittes Study is being developed on behalf of the Victorian Health Department – the work is a National e-Health Strategy being developed for the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council.
Third there is a separate Victorian Health ICT Strategy 2009-13 which was mentioned yesterday in the blog.
Fourth there is also work on e-Health happening is pretty secret ways by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission –another one of those activities that won’t gain support without more public awareness and review.
All in all this NEHTA Business Case run up has been totally hopelessly managed – thinking glossy spin rather than substance will persuade a group like COAG. The Premiers may not be the ‘sharpest tool in the shed’ but they can easily detect when a proposal has not been adequately reviewed and discussed by relevant stakeholders and where consensus has not been really developed.
Let’s hope the new NEHTA CEO can come up to speed and understand that a much better explanation and communication approach is critical to success. Of course, he also needs to work out if he is really convinced the IEHR is the right way to go. Blog readers will know I am deeply sceptical it is the right thing to be doing at this point but then with the proposal being secret how can one really form a truly informed view?