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The Spin Just Seems To Go On and On. With the Health Identifier Legislation Passed We Deserve The Promised Transparency.

July 22nd, 2010 by davidmore

The following appeared late yesterday.

Medicare snoops escape sack

Karen Dearne From: Australian IT July 21, 2010 5:05PM

NO Medicare staffers have been sacked for snooping on confidential client records, with most privacy breaches resulting in an emailed warning only.

Medicare has revealed that 51 staff members made "unauthorised access" to customer information held by the agency in the first six months of 2009-2010.

.....

Medicare has also confirmed it spent $48.7 million on building the identifier system, under a two-year contract with the National e-Health Transition Authority originally worth $57 million. NEHTA received $98 million in funding for the project from the Council of Australian Governments.

NEHTA chief executive Peter Fleming told The Australian tenders would soon be issued for private sector partners for a range of e-health programs, including implementation of the identifier service switched on by Medicare this month.

However, the only way medical practitioners or healthcare organisations can presently obtain their patients' individual healthcare numbers is by phoning Medicare.

None of the major software-makers are ready to supply the necessary interfaces to link doctors' systems with the new service as technical specifications were only released last month.

Full Article Here:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/government/medicare-snoops-escape-sack/story-fn4htb9o-1225895209553

What is most important other than the obvious point that Medicare cant seem to actually control its employees is that the last four paragraphs reveal just how little has actually been achieved in the implementation of the Health Identifier Service, and how spectacularly expensive it seems to have been so far for so little apparent progress.

It makes really good sense that the facts as to just how these funds were expended gets revealed by an audit as discussed here.

http://aushealthit.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-excellent-idea-long-overdue.html

This should happen well before further large scale funds are committed.

If the only access to the HI service is by telephone, one wonders just what has exactly been developed so far other than an implementation of a data-base schema in something like DB2 and development the various access paths and controls as outlined in the Concept of Operations.

We learn further on the electronic interfaces etc are still a twinkle in the developers eyes so I guess there will be more continuing cost.

Has anyone else wondered just why there has not been disclosure of the predicted ongoing operational costs of the HI Service and who is actually going to be funding this in perpetuity? It would be a bit sad if it got going and was then defunded a few years later unless of course it wasnt being used to any substantial level. Without some incentives for providers to adopt the HI Service this is, of course, a real risk.

Of course there is also the small matter that there is no public business case to justify all this. One wonders just where that is hiding in the era of so-called open government.

We can be sure it wont be anywhere near free!

Now the legislation is passed, all this should be on the public record I believe. We could do with the transparency promised here:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/nehta-puts-finishing-touches-to-health-identifier-plan/story-e6frgakx-1225890944023

Nehta adds final touches to e-health

Fran Foo

From: The Australian

July 13, 2010 12:00AM

Mr Fleming was happy with NEHTA's progress.

"When I joined, the commitment was by July 1 we would have the identifiers in place, and that was delivered," he said.

Unique healthcare identifiers were "created" by Medicare on July 1 for more than 96 per cent of the population.

He accepted that there were multi-faceted challenges in setting up e-health system and vowed to be as transparent as possible. The key to success would be change management.

One also wonders just what NEHTA is going to go to tender for. They will make very interesting reading indeed when released!

David.

 
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