14 April 2013

Slow motion e-health train wreck

An ongoing "carefully managed, staged" train wreck?
The national ehealth program - which like most public sector IT megaprojects is likely to experience function creep, budget blowouts and delays - continues to attract criticism. Some of the criticism is misplaced; other criticism appears to be substantive.

The Adelaide Advertiser this weekend has reported that
Bureaucrats armed with clipboards have been sent into hospitals and nursing homes to cajole patients to sign up for an eHealth record their doctors still won't be able to use.
Nine months after it was launched, the Government's $1 billion eHealth system holds just 414 patient records and is only a fifth of the way towards its target of signing up 500,000 patient users by June 30.
There are currently only two hospitals using the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system and they have uploaded just 155 discharge summaries.
And the system remains barely operational because fewer than one per cent of doctors have signed up for the Healthcare Identifier service number they need to be able to access patient records.
... Canberra has sent out a sign-up squad in a bid to boost numbers.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said around 12 specially trained staff had been deployed in hospitals, community clinics and aged care homes in Tasmania and the ACT to sign patients up to the scheme.
The move has caused outrage on health IT blogs with experts worried about the security of signing a patient up on paper and then re-entering the data online. Launceston Hospital's Professor Terry Hannan ... said patients in his hospital were being asked to hand over their Medicare cards and drivers licence to get an e-health record.
"Personally I have a lot of difficulty with this data collection process - not only from patient data security but the real risk of transcription errors in the data recording," he said on the Australian Health Information Technology blog.
"This whole process seems like seems like a political stunt to enhance the PCEHR registration numbers for a project that has been costly and doomed to failure - implementation wise and politically."
The eHealth system is meant to bring medical records into the digital age by providing patients with an electronic record that lists their medications and allergies.
Doctors who are registered are meant to be able to upload a patient health summary that can be shared with other medical workers but a few who have tried have crashed their computer systems.
Eventually it is meant to include X-ray results, pathology results, hospital discharge summaries and other data. ...
The DoH said implementation of the system was a carefully managed, staged process.