E-health specifications back in testing

Summary:The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is testing specifications and has almost recovered from its stumble that lead to it stopping e-health record trials, said NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming.

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is testing specifications and has almost recovered from its stumble that lead to it stopping e-health record trials, said NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming.

In January, NEHTA revealed that it had paused the implementation of primary care e-heath software at the e-health trial sites in North Brisbane, Melbourne, the Hunter, South Brisbane, Western Sydney, St Vincent's, Calvary, Cradle Coast, the Northern Territory and Mater. This pause was due to detected technical incompatibilities for specifications pushed out to the sites in November 2011.

Speaking in a Senate estimates hearing yesterday, Fleming said that the NEHTA was testing the revamped specification solution internally before pushing it out to the trial sites.

"The actual problem that was detected has been fixed, and we're now testing that. One of the things that we do ourselves is that we build out the system ourselves. So everything we write a specification for we actually build it."

He said that although information and structured requirements documents were correct, NEHTA had failed to provide a complete change control log to show the differences between the draft specifications delivered to the wave sites in May 2011 and the final specifications delivered in November 2011.

"What happened, and shouldn't have happened, was we didn't fully manage our change controls, so when we published the November specification, we didn't give the full change control log to the wave one and wave two sites," he said.

"What we've had to do is go back and update that change log to reflect those changes," he said.

Although the pause has caused a six-week delay on the trials, he said that it wouldn't impact the delivery of the personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) for all Australians by 1 July, and added that it wasn't expected to lead to a cost blow-out.

"In fact ... it doesn't look like it has cost anything in terms of dollars because the work that we have to do in terms of transitioning the wave sites across to the national infrastructure had to happen anyway," he said. "We had to put a slight delay on the work, but we've been able to rejig the processes so it doesn't look like financially it has cost us anything. Time-wise, probably about six weeks."

NEHTA will undertake testing for the national Accenture platform to support the e-health records this month, ensuring the system works with other vendors' software. He said testing will go until late June.

Fleming said that testing for any system due to launch with the e-health records by 1 July will be ongoing until the launch date.

Topics: Health

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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