Pegasus PMS dream comes a cropper
The difficulties that new entrants into health IT markets face were writ large this week when Pegasus Health, the main primary healthcare organisation covering general practices in Christchurch and surrounds, finally had to throw in the towel on its venture to co-develop and roll out a new practice management system for its 90 or so members.
A few other PHOs have followed in Pegasus' path of exploring the market for a new preferred PMS that suits contemporary and future general practice. The other three big PHOs in NZ's big cities – ProCare in Auckland, Pinnacle in Hamilton and Compass in Wellington – have all gone through a preferred PMS process and all have recommended migrating from incumbent Medtech to another vendor.
In the North Island PHOs' case it has all been Valentia's Indici, although Pegasus plumped for Intrahealth's Profile, which was to be refashioned and renamed Sirius. None have managed to do it successfully as yet, however. Even Pinnacle, which co-developed Indici with the Health Care Home model in mind, has struggled with the adoption. Despite the call of the cloud and the promises of the PHOs, practices seem reluctant to change.
We've long doubted the conventional wisdom that general practice will jump at a cloud product or one that is more user friendly if offered. The experience of Indici in New Zealand and MediRecords in Australia has shown that it's a tough market to crack, and even for established players, the move to the cloud has not been embraced as hoped for. Medtech's cloud-based Evolution product still lags Medtech32 implementations, and the same can be said in Australia with MedicalDirector 3 and Helix.
We don't think it's the products themselves but rather the time, effort and sheer torture that moving to a new PMS entails. It's also why we question the wisdom of the PHOs in attempting to select a preferred PMS, and in organisations like the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners doing the same in its venture with Hello Health, not to mention the cost involved. There has to be a real incentive to move, and a prettier UX is not going to do it on its own. As the Pegasus experience shows, even cost savings through SaaS and shared support is not enough. It's a tough market, and it seems at the moment that not many want to budge.
Medical specialists are a slightly different market, and our top story this week was Genie Solutions' partnership with Movember to improve links to the latter's very good True North resources for men living with a prostate cancer diagnosis. The plan is to make it easier for urology practices to send data to the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Register as well. Genie is doing some really interesting stuff at the moment for its specialist customers, including working with the Australian Digital Health Agency on improving specialist uptake of clinical software.
We also heard from Healthdirect Australia, which runs a number of health information hotlines and the National Health Services Directory. It also runs a video conferencing service called healthdirect Video Call, which in the past has been used by quite a few jurisdictions for hospital-based telehealth services to outpatients and aged care. As we reported last month, Healthdirect has swapped from Attend Anywhere as its platform provider, choosing instead to go with Coviu. Healthdirect and Coviu are also offering the service to PHNs to try out for free.
NSW Health, which used Video Call extensively for some years following some interesting implementations overseen by the Agency for Clinical Innovation, has since decided to use Pexip and Skype for Business instead on an enterprise level. We'd be interested in your thoughts on that question.
Late in the week we reported that ACT Health plans a big bang approach to its digital health record roll-out. There are differing views on this: it worked for Royal Children's and St Stephen's but it didn't go so well at Fiona Stanley and has been pretty much avoided in Queensland, NSW and SA. The ACT only has three hospitals so it might all be smooth sailing for the capital. We'll see.
Speaking of Queensland Health, it has finally appointed a new CIO. This position has been a poisoned chalice over the years, so we wish Mr Green all the best.
That brings us to our poll question for the week: do you think a big bang approach to an EMR and PAS roll-out is right for the ACT?
Our poll last week asked: are the NZ minimum requirements on the right track? Two thirds said yes: 67 per cent to 33 per cent.