Health minister, Nicola Roxon, is expected to release the draft concept of operations document for the $467 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) as early as Friday this week, providing greater detail into the the construct and ongoing operations of the initiative.
Roxon has previously been lax to release the document, which had so far only been provided to vendors tendering for work on the project. The withheld document led some consumer advocacy groups to claim the Federal Government was purposefully being secretive about the entire project.
The concept document has been a work in progress for at least a year, having undergone ten iterations by the time a version of the draft was leaked in November last year.
However, head of the initiative and lead agency the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Andrew Howard, told a roundtable of industry and consumer groups last week that the document had changed substantially in the lead-up to its release.
Among the changes were a restructuring of the 130-page document itself, which would be split into three parts: An overview, the concept itself, and an executive summary of the material that removed the historical changes previously added to each iteration of the document. The changes made the document a “much easier read”, according to Howard.
The release of the document is, according to NEHTA, an effective starting point of public consultation on electronic health records, a project already underway with 12 pilot sites nominated for creation and implementation of various aspects.
“Everyone has a view of what should be in it; that view grows depending on who you talk to and so when you coalesce that you’ve got a massive elephant,” NEHTA’s head of clinical leadership and engagement, Mukesh Haikerwal, told Computerworld Australia recently. “Because technology and standards and things change, that elephant moves, so to make it successful we’ve got to deliver something that is small; an elephant that is small and tied down.”
The concept of operations will also outline changes to varied aspects of the project as a result of the naming of nine wave 2 e-health sites last month. Howard said aspects such as access to consumer information via web portal (to be developed by Medibank Private), advanced care directives and connection with Medicare data would be clarified within the document. Though Howard stressed the wave two sites would not be implementing final systems, he said they would provide an indication of how an eventual e-health record infrastructure would operate on various levels.
“There’s still some challenges, particularly from the clinicians perspectives, of overload of information,” he said. “So part of what we’re doing is actually building some proof of concepts to see how that information might be displayed, look at the usability of that information and how we might specify some things like the view service.”
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