Monday, July 9, 2012

I Think The NEHRS / PCEHR Is Becoming Political And That Just Might Be A Good Thing To Get Some Sensible Change.

There were a couple of articles appear in the last day of so on the PCEHR - interestingly reflecting that both the Fairfax Press and News Ltd are increasingly covering progress.
First we have:

Slower than predicted start for personal e-health records

Date July 9, 2012 - 1:38PM
Only 320 people signed up for an electronic health record five days after the Federal Government's much anticipated July 1 e-health launch.
With numbers like this, the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record project, which aims to streamline patient medical records to facilitate treatment, is unlikely to meet its own target of registering 500,000 users by July 1 next year.
Australians wanting to consolidate their health records including medications, allergies, immunisations, doctor's and hospital notes and prescriptions, can apply online at
A slow, incomplete start was predicted in May for Australia's most ambitious e-health project to date.
However Paul Madden, deputy secretary and chief information officer of the Department of Health, insisted the slow start was a good thing.
"This is a really complex and complicated system and because it will be living in that very viral system called the internet, which we don't control, we have to take a very measured approach as we implement our system in there," he told IT Pro.
Early problems included constantly busy call-centre lines, the inability to register names that have apostrophes, and Medicare staff unaware that PCEHR registration was available. To register online, applicants are first redirected to the site to open an account with no apparent link back to the e-health record registration.
Despite the department undertaking a roadshow to promote e-health records, Madden said that there had been no promotion of the sign-up, hence fewer consumers would be affected by initial teething problems. He said the system could not be tested live until July 1 due to legislative restrictions.
Lots more detail here:
Secondly we have a long article this morning

Auditor-General must audit e-health: Coalition

  • by: Karen Dearne and Fran Foo
  • From: The Australian
  • July 10, 2012 12:00AM
PRESSURE is building for the Auditor-General to examine the cost and performance of parties involved in the Gillard government's personally controlled e-health record program after a dismal launch last week.
Opposition e-health spokesman Andrew Southcott said that given "almost $1 billion of taxpayers' money has been spent or allocated for this in the past two years, it would be prudent for the Australian National Audit Office to examine the PCEHR program".
IT projects were "notorious for costing a lot more than expected and delivering a lot less than expected, and this seems to be in that category".
"I think we've had very poor ministerial oversight of this project," Dr Southcott said. "The infrastructure is not ready, the National Authentication Service for Health, which provides user verification and system security, is not ready, consumers could not register online and the GPs' software is not ready -- I'm told one of the largest GP providers won't have software ready until next February.
"It's time to hear from the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, or in her absence the acting minister Mark Butler, to take ownership of the situation because this is unreal."
Two years ago, then health minister Nicola Roxon was "trumpeting a bright, new e-health future" but there's not much to show for it at this stage", Dr Southcott said.
The online registration portal finally launched on Friday night, after an abortive live session on Tuesday afternoon resulted in it being pulled offline.
Lots more here including a comment from your humble blogger.
As pointed out in a comment yesterday, compared with what was promised two years ago we have been rather short changed.
See here:
Now the call from the Opposition for an Audit of what has gone on with the overall E-Health Program seems pretty reasonable to me.
As we can see from the following it also seemed reasonable to the Audit Office in June 2011.

National e-Health Implementation

In the 2009−10 Budget, the Australian Government committed $57 million to e-Health to facilitate the transition of paper-based clinical recordkeeping to electronic means, in support of safer, more efficient and better quality health care. Over the period July 2009 to June 2012, the National e-Health Transition Authority Ltd (NEHTA) is responsible for delivering key components of the National e-Health Strategy, endorsed by Australian Health Ministers in late 2008. Building on the work of NEHTA, the Australian Government announced in the 2010–11 Budget an additional $467 million investment over two years in the key components of an electronic health record system, so that all Australians have access to a personally controlled electronic health record.
An audit would examine DoHA’s leadership, management and coordination of e-Health developments.
----- End Extract.
Here is the link.
For mine - given that this has been a $1.0 Billion program - and such much smaller tasks - such as auditing the GP Super Clinic Program and actually underway - the time has well and truly arrived.
Additionally it seems clear the scope of the Audit needs to cover all Commonwealth funded (or partially Commonwealth funded activities NEHTA etc).
Given the result of the current poll -in less than 24 hours - where over 95% of 24 votes rate value for money low for this program the Audit Task and any required remedial action is becoming urgent.
Both Senator Boyce and Dr Southcott (the Opposition Spokespeople) have now spoken out on the need for an Audit. Time has come!
According to the Medical Observer Dr Southcott has said:
"he would write to the Attorney General to ask that the Australian National Audit Office examine how the government had spent “almost $1 billion” developing the records system."
See here:
A good move I reckon.