Outsourcing to heal e-health woes

Outsourcing to heal e-health woes

Summary: The National E-Health Transition Authority has accepted all recommendations made by a Boston Consulting Group review, including suggestions to step up recruitment by outsourcing, offshore recruitment and creative contractual arrangements.

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TOPICS: Outsourcing, Health
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The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has accepted all recommendations made by a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) review, including suggestions to step up recruitment by outsourcing, offshore recruitment and creative contractual arrangements.

NEHTA -- a collaborative enterprise owned by the Australian federal, state and territory governments -- was started on 29 July 2004 following another report by BCG concluding there were too many small, loosely coordinated e-health initiatives underway. The report recommended a single central body be set up instead.

NEHTA was intended to develop standards, clinical terminologies and patient and provider identifiers by mid 2009. It received initial funding of AU$23 million in 2005, followed by AU$130 million from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2006.

BCG was asked to undertake a two-year review to evaluate NEHTA's progress and make recommendations on how the Authority should proceed with its work.

Although the review said that 90 percent of 2006/07 goals had been met, recruiting delays are leading to persistent under-spending of the NEHTA budget of between 20 to 50 percent across its workstreams, according to BCG.

Staff recruitment is a critical issue according to BCG, and needs to be addressed by alternative approaches to sourcing skilled staff. NEHTA should investigate outsourcing, where suitable insourcing of expert teams from systems integrators, hiring of higher-paid and skilled temporary contractors who typically shun salaried appointments, and offshore recruiting, the report added.

NEHTA's response -- an Action Plan for Adoption Success, released yesterday -- says that the Authority already has staff working in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne, to help alleviate the severity of the skills crisis by giving employees a choice of employment location, but admits that it has been harder to attract suitable candidates and that it already has a focus on overseas recruitment to find experienced staff.

To access overseas employees with the specialised skills NEHTA needs, the Authority has tapped markets including the UK, USA, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Lithuania, New Zealand and Canada by engaging international recruitment consultants and offering contracts and short term secondments to secure resources in niche areas.

In relation to the BCG's outsourcing recommendation: "NEHTA has embarked on a range of procurement processes in the past to secure deliverables (and the associated knowledge) through external parties", the plan says, adding NEHTA will deepen its involvement in outsourcing, and consider outsourcing two areas of its operations: building, operating and transferring the Technical Reference Platform that will be used to support the implementation process; and building, operating and transferring the Conformance, Compliance and Accreditation system.

The outsourcing will not be limited to these areas however.

Implementing BCG's other suggestion of establishing capacity contracts with large systems integrators to utilise their staff for certain capabilities, will require reviewing the revised work plans to see where such a strategy could be most useful, according to NEHTA. The Authority believes that this could be completed by February 2008.

Topics: Outsourcing, Health

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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4 comments
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  • BCG report

    What an overly positive article. What about the rest of the problems flagged by the BCG review? For instance the massive communications problems with external stakeholders?

    Respectfully yours,

    an e-health armchair critic
    anonymous
  • Outsourcing ineptitude

    Outsourcing has been discredited as a cost saving mechanism, but it does have value when the current management is clueless and cannot be replaced.
    Competant leadership is the real answer, however this involves accountability, which is non-existant in most senior roles these days.
    anonymous
  • Victoria working with vendors to move e-health forward

    On March 12 2008 the Primary Health Branch of Victoria's Department of Human Services convened a vendor information forum for software application vendors to:
    • hear about changes to the Service Coordination Tool Templates (SCTT) and the Victorian Statewide Referral Form (VSRF) as part of the 2008 revision;
    • receive an introduction to the changes that are likely to be made to the SCTT and VSRF as part of the 2009 revision; and
    • learn what the Department of Human Services is doing to support vendors to keep their software products up to date as part of the 2008 revision.
    The forum was well attended by vendors of patient/client management software applications to the health and human services sectors – including a number of the GP software application vendors – and the vendors of the e-referral systems. Representatives from health and human services agencies, Primary Care Partnerships, the ICT Alliances, GPV and DHS also attended.
    Antonio Abbenante, Integration Manager with the Office of Health Information Systems delivered a presentation on e-referral, messaging and HL7. His presentation made clear the important role of the SCTT and VSRF in sharing standard information between health and human services providers and the role of the current e-referral systems in delivering the "distributor services" functions.
    Jonathan Ashley, Manager of IM Strategy Unit with the department’s Planning & Resources Branch, also presented at the forum. Jonathan's presentation focused on the DHS Information Management Strategy and the work of his team, and DMAC, in easing the data burden of funded organisations, systems suppliers and DHS itself through data collection and reporting reform.
    Vendor information forums are an important part of the Primary Health Branch communications strategy and have been integral to engaging vendors in earlier revisions of the SCTT and the VSRF and moving e-health forward. The next forum will be convened at the end of November. This forum will be an opportunity for software application vendors to learn about both the changes that have been made to the SCTT and the VSRF as part of the 2009 revision and the broader IM/IT work and vision of the department.
    More information on the forum, and copies of the presentations, are available from http://www.health.vic.gov.au/pcps/publications/vendor.htm.
    anonymous
  • Kudaa Transfer, Gospel of Software outsource

    With the development of economic globalization, more and more developed countries contract software business to the developing countries, because it can reduce the labor costs greatly. From the statistic data in recent years, software outsource has the trend of increasing rapidly.
    ��Software outsource is a kind of transnational business, and it needs a large amount of data files to transfer across the world. Because of frequent interaction, software outsource has high requirements for transfer speed. The existing international broadband has formidable bottleneck, basically it�s not realistic for large files to go international transfer by internet. Now most of international large files are treated through express CD, but the efficiency is too low to software outsource.
    ��Kudaa transfer star developed by Kudaa Communications Limited, thoroughly solves the transfer problems of software outsource industry. Kudaa transfer star is the tool for accelerating internet transfer, especially having great advantage in transfer the transnational large files. Economic globalization has brought opportunity to software market, Kudaa transfer is the catalyst for the development of the software outsources.
    ��The emergency of Kudaa software�http://www.kudaa.com�has brought gospel to software outsource: It�s not only reflected in transfer efficiency, but also in low transfer costs. Kudda software provides service completely for the international transfer freely, and it will provide all kinds of custom-tailoring services.
    anonymous