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- Issue 81: April 2009
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- Issue 75: September 2008
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Australia’s E-Health Control Freaks – Guess Who?

Dr David More
From a Medical IT Perspective

Issue 75: September 2008
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I am vitally interested in making a difference to the quality and safety of Health Care in Australia through the use of information technology.
There is no choice.. it has to be made to work!
Honestly, sometimes NEHTA really takes the biscuit!
For the most recent example – see this ripper from ZDNet.

NEHTA gags stakeholder forum

Liam Tung, ZDNet.com.au

22 August 2008 05:48 PM

Australia's peak e-health body has held the first meeting of a new forum designed to address past failures to adequately engage government and industry stakeholders — but individuals in the group have been gagged from talking about details.

Established in 2005 by state health ministers, the National E-Health Transition Authority's (NEHTA) mission is to develop standards to better integrate Australia's health IT systems and improve clinical outcomes.

The group yesterday announced it had held the first meeting in of its so-called Stakeholder Reference Forum (SRF) which aims to improve the organisation's engagement with key stakeholders. The first meeting was held in Melbourne on 29 July.

The forum was partially a response to a review by the Boston Consulting Group published last year, which labelled the organisation's engagement with stakeholders as "ineffective", leading to a "cycle of criticism, defensiveness and isolation".

"We have put together a stakeholder forum as another conduit to provide input to the work program — consumer, clinician and informatician," a spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au.

Members, which include all state health agencies, the Department of Health and Ageing, and several other clinician stakeholder groups and consumer representatives, discussed the 'terms of reference' for itself and agreed upon holding two more meetings by the end of this year.

The major priorities agreed upon at the first meeting were the development of an e-health business case for consideration by the Council of Australian Governments meeting in October this year, as well as devising a five-year plan.

The first major e-health implementations the group wants NEHTA to focus on are developing systems for electronic discharge summaries, pathology reports, specialist referrals and medication management.

However, members of the forum have signed a non-disclosure agreement that personally binds them when the SRF discusses confidential topics, including NEHTA’s finances.

"They have signed a confidentiality agreement and probably wouldn't be able to comment on specific topics discussed. However they would be able to comment on the fact that the forum exists and if it is valuable," the NEHTA spokerson said.

More here:


I was lucky enough to have been sent some of the materials from the Forum and also a note that NEHTA has published some news about the Forum on their web site.

Most interesting were two things (let’s just forget the nonsense Terms of Reference for the SRF that has the NEHTA acting CEO as the co-chair on their own and makes it clear all service for your brief stay on the SRF is at NEHTA’s pleasure – so just shut up and listen!). First we have the membership list.

Three groups are cited.

First jurisdictions, second clinicians and third consumers. The third amused me:

Stakeholder: Consumer

 * Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)

 * Australian Medical Association IT Committee

 * Australian Safety and Quality Commission

 * Consumer Health Forum (CHF)

 * Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and Coalition for e-health

 * Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA)

 * Private Health Insurance Funds

I would contend this is just another example of how out of touch with reality NEHTA really is – I doubt if you ask them the AIIA or the MSIA would see themselves as consumers.
They are technical peak bodies and should be separated from the admirable CHF.
It is also interesting how few consumer interests are reflected – sure the CHF is important – but there are many more consumer voices than that who could help.
Just ignored it seems.
More amazing is the suppression and spin of the minutes of the 5 hour meeting.

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