ACHI committee aims to be leading voice on eHealth

The Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) has set up a subcommittee that aims to become an authoritative source of independent advice on the relative success or failure of eHealth implementations, including high-profile initiatives such as the PCEHR.

Established late last year, ACHI's program evaluation subcommittee (PES) is positioning itself as the peak national group for providing advice to healthcare decision makers, the public at large, government and the media regarding the relative merit of various proposed or actually implemented systems.

The PES is chaired by Chris Bain, inaugural director of health informatics at Alfred Health and adjunct senior research fellow in the Faculty of IT at Monash University. Chris Pearce, director of research at Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local and adjunct associate professor of general practice at Monash University, is a member of the committee.

Writing in the November issue of Pulse+IT magazine, Dr Bain and Associate Professor Pearce say that the last three years have been a particularly active and interesting time in Australian healthcare, especially when viewed through the eyes of the health informatics community.

“National healthcare reforms have significantly increased eHealth activities in Australia in a raft of ways – some would say for the better, and some for the worse,” they write.

“The personally controlled eHealth record (PCEHR) is the most prominent example, but there are numerous large and small eHealth activities across the country; usually centred around jurisdictions, hospital networks and Medicare Locals.

“One of the drivers of the creation of the group has been the ongoing concern expressed in [Pulse+IT] and other places around the success or otherwise of the PCEHR initiative for example.”

In addition to outlining some of the criteria for a successful implementation, Dr Bain and A/Prof Pearce describe some of the drivers that may be considered in establishing the relative success or failure of an implemented system.

They highlight the concept of usability as one that is poorly understood by many who refer to it.

“Usability is not simply how 'easy to use' a system is,” they write. “It can be broken down into its constituent components, and these in turn can be measured. These components include the flexibility of the system, its speed, its ease of navigation, its ease of learning and its 'attitude'.

“These evaluations are not for the faint-hearted nor for those not appropriately qualified. In particular, there is an enormous amount of contextual knowledge to be factored in order for such evaluations to be undertaken in an informed fashion.

“ACHI (through the PES) as the peak academic body for health informatics brings with it all the skills necessary to deliver independent, comprehensive analysis of any eHealth implementation.

“We welcome contact from relevant organisations or individuals within the broader health and eHealth/informatics communities in relation to the activities of the PES.”

For the full story, see the November 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Rob Starling 2013-11-15 10:31
Such a body is needed. To develop credibility suggest it will need to be very agile. There are so many highly complex systems in place and despite the lessons of the past new systems seem to be equally complex and profitable for the implementation teams of the software companies.

It would be good to have an independent body to cut through the hype and optimism from vendors and panicking clients as their budgets blow out.

The most sustainable changes, I would suggest, are in primary care, allied health and aged care centred around their consideration of, preparation for and/or adoption of the NeHR. This is also where we have Doctors, Practice Managers etc making decisions about information systems. Being at the coalface of the PCEHR roll-out with the Kimberley Pilbara Medicare Local we face this issue continually.

Sadly, gone are the days of setting your requirements and holding vendor funded benchmarks for a short list of tenderers, decisions are made with the best of intent but usually on hearsay. Some peak bodies provide checklists but not why these functions are important and the consequences if "one or two" are missing.

Providing measurement points within software implementations so that the non-technical person could see if their data asset is growing in an orderly fashion .. but also see if things are going wrong and have the opportunity to investigate before things go horribly wrong. Data problems usually come to light when compiling reports (at the last minute) for projects or undertaking forensic analysis .. by then its usually too late.

Using the team's experience and that of ACHI to develop a list of well explained key Pulse Points for system monitoring for primary and allied health would be most valuable. Meeting the criteria for reporting against the Pulse Points could then be used as an aide in the selection of systems.

It's often the simple things that have wide traction, a quick turn around, remain current and are logical, doable, reduce complexity while giving re-assurance .. that are ignored.

Another area that I think requires scrutiny is the continuity of patient information provided by hospitals. I have long argued that hospital systems in general fail to take into full account clinical information that is known about a patient on admission and fail to provide access to their clinical information, as appropriate, to those providers delivering services to the patient when the patient returns to their home. Providing a best practice (sensible) model to measure the update of data on admission and the delivery of access to data on discharge would be most informative and have a very high economic value.

Thanks for this opportunity to share a couple of ideas .. I look forward to seeing the results of your endeavours in this very rapidly changing world of information flows in health .. all of which should have patient safety and reducing the complexity of the patient journey at the top of the list of drivers.
0 # Colin 2013-11-15 19:54
Very sound intellect evident hear and someone with considerable experience who should be listened to as a balance to the academic evaluations.

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