The founding chief executive officer (CEO) of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Dr Ian Reinecke, has resigned and will be replaced by the Chief Information Officer of the Victorian Department of Human Services, Andrew Howard.
The appointment of a CIO to act as NEHTA's interim CEO is effective almost immediately as Dr Reinecke will officially depart on Friday, April 4, 2008.
Reinecke's immediate departure was announced today by the chair of the NEHTA board, Dr Tony Sherbon, in a formal statement claiming Reinecke wants to resume his career as a consultant and corporate advisor.
Reinecke has held the position since October 2004 and Sherbon said his replacement will maintain the role while an international search is undertaken for a permanent CEO.
However, IT staff working in the health sector believe placing a CIO at the helm of Australia's e-health initiatives is a timely move as work has just begun on the implementation of Australia's electronic health records.
Howard has an extensive background in e-health and 15 years international consulting experience with Accenture.
NEHTA is under considerable pressure to deliver on many of its e-health objectives in the next 12 months with a recent review undertaken by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identifying a range of obstacles to Australia's e-health agenda including critical staff shortages.
As a result NEHTA is looking offshore to fill the resource gap and has had to justify serious delays in delivery.
The report said NEHTA is currently operating up to 50 per cent under budget due to recruiting delays.
BCG warned the increased labour resources required is extraordinary, roughly a doubling of personnel spend every year up until 2009.
The review also called for closer consultation with stakeholders. Health industry professionals and the IT industry described NEHTA's engagement style as "dogmatic".
Following the review NEHTA announced a business plan to expedite e-health reforms late last year.
Commenting on Reinecke's leadership, Sherbon said he has taken the evolution of e-health in Australia to a new level where much of the work is now ready for implementation.
Reinecke recently secured funding to move ahead on a range of e-health projects and negotiated the contract to establish unique health identifiers for all Australians.
"I am confident that the NEHTA program will continue on its current course under Andrew Howard's leadership," Dr Sherbon said.
NEHTA's Board of Directors is composed of the heads of all nine government health departments in Australia.