NEHTA clinicians resign as DoHA “takes the lead” on PCEHR

The Department of Health and Ageing and the National E-Health Transition Authority have confirmed that Mukesh Haikerwal, head of clinical leadership and stakeholder management for NEHTA, has resigned.

It is understood that a number of other high-profile clinicians have also resigned from the clinical leads program, although NEHTA and DoHA declined to comment.

In a statement, a DoHA spokeswoman said the department was now “taking the lead” from NEHTA in consultations with medical groups and the health IT industry, and was going to take “a fresh look at the design of the PCEHR system”.

Dr Haikerwal tweeted yesterday that he was in London, attending the funeral of his mother-in-law.

Dr Haikerwal's deputy in the clinical leads team, Dr Nathan Pinskier, said he could not comment on the matter.

Pulse+IT understands there has been a great deal of disquiet from the clinical leads team about the lack of clinical utility of the PCEHR and the sidelining of clinical input into its functionality.

Dr Haikerwal told Pulse+IT last month that he had pushed for the establishment of a steering committee for NEHTA's clinical usability program (CUP) to try to fix some of the problems with the PCEHR, including its usability and usefulness for clinicians.

He said the PCEHR had great potential but it needed to be made more “useful, usable and safe”.

Asked at the time if usefulness and safety should have been part of the PCEHR design from the start, Dr Haikerwal said “you may say that but I couldn't possibly comment”.

The DoHA spokeswoman said the department acknowledged "the tremendous contribution" Dr Haikerwal had made to the development and implementation of eHealth in Australia.

“For many years he has been a tireless advocate to turn the eHealth vision into reality, with the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system now being well established and moving into a new phase,” the spokeswoman said.

“Dr Haikerwal brought to NEHTA the advocacy for a clinically led national eHealth programme and built a strong network of clinical leads who are experts across the entire Australian clinical landscape.

“Going forward, the Department of Health and Ageing is taking the lead in the consultation with medical peak bodies and industry sectors, such as the new ICT Industry Consultative Forum bringing together more than 120 industry organisations next week and the PCEHR Peak Bodies Workshop next month.

“We are continuing to work with NEHTA to revisit consultation and clinician arrangements to ensure that the Department takes a fresh look at the design of the PCEHR system and consults with those who will engage with it.

“Naturally, the Department will continue to work closely with clinicians and other health care providers and consumers on the continued roll out and development of eHealth and the PCEHR.”

The spokeswoman said there were now over 690,000 people and 4900 healthcare organisations signed up to the eHealth system, and that “the PCEHR is now successfully moving into a new phase”.

“For example, NEHTA's role has shifted from focusing on designing and building national eHealth infrastructure to implementing and supporting the adoption of eHealth.”

A spokesperson for NEHTA said the organisation also acknowledged “the tremendous expertise that Dr Haikerwal has contributed to eHealth in Australia”.

“Dr Haikerwal advised NEHTA that he sees this as the right time for him to step aside from the leadership role with NEHTA he has held for the past six years," the spokesperson said.

“Mukesh brought to NEHTA the advocacy for a clinically led national eHealth programme and built a strong network of clinical leads who are experts across the entire Australian clinical landscape.

“This network, together with the internal clinical unit Mukesh developed, were successful in embedding clinical perspectives and needs into the design of NEHTA specifications which directly support the uptake of eHealth systems which are being implemented today.

“We recognise the tireless efforts of all clinical leads in this work.”

Pulse+IT put several more questions to NEHTA, which the spokesperson declined to answer. They were:

  • Is it correct that many clinical leads are leaving NEHTA and that this will be announced in the next couple of days?
  • Is it true that the clinical groups have been agitating for change in the PCEHR program for a number of months?
  • Is it true that the reason the clinical leads are leaving is that NEHTA is consistently refusing to engage them in decision-making on the PCEHR?

The DoHA spokeswoman said the department also acknowledged "the valuable contribution that Dr Pinskier and others have made, presenting the eHealth story at hundreds of healthcare events nationwide and championing the Model Healthcare Community from its beginnings at Medicare in Canberra".

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # David Margan 2013-08-15 16:03
Well perhaps now all those Nehta boosters have to finally concede that all is not well with the expenditure of 1 Billion dollars of taxpayers funds on Nehta and the PCEHR.

For those of us who believe that an E-Health system is potentially a great health game changer but who think this Government's management of it has been so incompetent that the whole program needs an emphatic pause, audit and re-evaluation these resignations are a sad confirmation of our analysis. But there will be more proof in the wind as there will soon be a call that all PBS material be removed from the PCEHR, as the latter is considered manifestly unsafe. The boosters won't have much to shout about then!

David Margan
Media and policy adviser to Liberal Party Senator Sue Boyce
0 # Arthur D. 2013-08-16 13:58
> who think this Government's management of it has been so incompetent

This is nothing but crass political opportunism, that totally neglects to mention who it was that launched NETHA, and set it on the path that has subsequently been followed.

If this is what passes for Liberal Party e-Health policy, we should be very afraid indeed.
0 # Revivor 2013-08-16 14:41
Australia's ehealth system was doomed to fail from the beginning because there were far too many working on the inside who did not want to see it come to fruition but were happy to say they did - and rake in the huge $ along the way.

They'll all probably start pointing the finger elsewhere now, after 6 years of directing and influencing exactly what has been unleashed.

We should all be asking - after six years, why now?

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