Australia's peak e-health body has held the first meeting of a new forum designed to address past failures to adequately engage government and industry stakeholders — but individuals in the group have been gagged from talking about details.
Established in 2005 by state health ministers, the National E-Health Transition Authority's (NEHTA) mission is to develop standards to better integrate Australia's health IT systems and improve clinical outcomes.
The group yesterday announced it had held the first meeting in of its so-called Stakeholder Reference Forum (SRF) which aims to improve the organisation's engagement with key stakeholders. The first meeting was held in Melbourne on 29 July.
The forum was partially a response to a review by the Boston Consulting Group published last year, which labelled the organisation's engagement with stakeholders as "ineffective", leading to a "cycle of criticism, defensiveness and isolation".
"We have put together a stakeholder forum as another conduit to provide input to the work program — consumer, clinician and informatician," a spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au.
Members, which include all state health agencies, the Department of Health and Ageing, and several other clinician stakeholder groups and consumer representatives, discussed the 'terms of reference' for itself and agreed upon holding two more meetings by the end of this year.
"It's one more step in our consultative approach — not the only method of course, but a group the Board has brought together for broad representation," the spokesperson said.
The major priorities agreed upon at the first meeting were the development of an e-health business case for consideration by the Council of Australian Governments meeting in October this year, as well as devising a five-year plan.
The first major e-health implementations the group wants NEHTA to focus on are developing systems for electronic discharge summaries, pathology reports, specialist referrals and medication management.
However, members of the forum have signed a non-disclosure agreement that personally binds them when the SRF discusses confidential topics, including NEHTA’s finances.
"They have signed a confidentiality agreement and probably wouldn't be able to comment on specific topics discussed. However they would be able to comment on the fact that the forum exists and if it is valuable," the NEHTA spokerson said.
Clinician stakeholder representatives include the Allied Health Professions Organisation (AHPA), the Australian Aged Care Association, Healthscope Ltd, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Ramsay Health Care amongst others.
Consumer stakeholders include the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Australian Medical Association IT Committee, the Australian Safety and Quality Commission, the Consumer Health Forum (CHF), the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and Coalition for e-health, the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) and Private Health Insurance Funds.