Sunday, August 12, 2012

The NEHRS Seems To Have Made It To The Sunday Press. Not A Good Sign For The Future.

The following appeared earlier today. Indeed on Page 3 to maximise exposure.

Patients reject eHealth

Date August 12, 2012

Tim Barlass

Only 5029 people have joined the federal government's controversial $466 million eHealth system since it was launched on July 1.
Figures obtained from the Department of Health and Ageing show that each individual to take up the personally controlled electronic health record system has so far cost the government $92,662.
Patients can volunteer to join the system, which stores all their health information, including test results and prescriptions, in a national database. It is the first time patients will be able to access their medical details.
The Coalition's eHealth spokesman, Andrew Southcott, compared the slow adoption to the government's problems with the Building the Education Revolution program and pink batts installation.
''The government's own target and benchmark was 500,000 sign-ups in the first year,'' he said.
''At the current rate, if they maintain this pace they will get approximately 60,000 so well short of the 500,000 and they are anticipating 6.8 million within four years.
''The low take-up shows that doctors and patients don't see it as being of much value at this point in time. This is the government that brought us school halls [BER refurbishment] and pink batts and lost control of our borders.''
Dr Southcott said the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, was avoiding talking about the scheme.
''The government doesn't want to be associated with another disaster,'' he said. ''They championed it before the last election but they don't really seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for it now.''
More here with reactions from the Health Minister, DoHA, the AMA.
It seems to me that what we are seeing here is a very deliberate strategy from DoHA to keep the population unaware of the existence of the NEHRS since it simply is not ready yet.
Surely if there was something that was real, useful and working actually in existence the Government would be keen to let us all know with an advertising campaign and all the bells and whistles that go with that?
Additionally it seems to be a ‘State Secret’ as to when we will actually see something potentially useful emerge from out of the fog.  With the need to sort out NASH, GP and Hospital Software as well as the necessary links, Patient and Provider Education, Patient Safety and Compliance Issues and the Health Identifier Service (at the very least) there is a fair  bit to be done.
It also seems to me that now it is clear the Program has not met its initial public objectives this is the time for a NEHRS Program reset and review followed by publication of a realistic Program Plan that actually has some prospect of delivery. Of course this review should also include options of a fundamental change in approach and direction. To just commit to ‘pressing on’ with no serious option analysis would be pretty sad.
Anyway, an open and frank review of what is being done is really needed. It would be a pity if more good money is thrown after bad with the lack a full review. An unconsidered and blinkered consideration of what has happened so far will help no one. We need to be aware not making a sensible set of mid-course corrections (and having the whole thing fall over)  may lead to damage to e-Health as an idea that could take a decade to repair. That would be the worst of all possible outcomes.