The Victorian Government is to shortly progress to the third phase in its implementation of the National e-health Transition Authority’s (NeHTA) national product catalogue.
The catalogue is intended to be the source and main repository of data for public health institutions seeking to purchase medicines, medical devices and other healthcare items.
The first phase, conducted in late 2008 saw the creation of a common Victorian product catalogue to be populated and updated from the national catalogue.
The second phase, conducted in 2009, piloted the use of the national catalogue and confirmed the model tested in phase as the preferred model for Victorian catalogue implementation.
Phase three will see the actual building and implementation of the Victorian catalogue.
According to Health Purchasing Victoria, a Victorian product catalogue is needed because at present, health services all run their own catalogues for supply and pharmacy, leading to inefficiencies and confusion.
In addition to the lack of a common catalogue, health services also run a mix of catalogue management systems, typically based on Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, PeopleSoft, Epicor, Excel, while pharmacies often run either iSoft’s i.Pharmacy or Pharmhos’s Merlin applications.
Even if two or more health services run the same catalogue management software, standardisation is difficult as different versions of the same software are likely being run.
Further, the same data about products is often not retained across health services, a standardised nomenclature, automatic data validation tools, and a consistent classification of inventory often does not exist between services.
The road toward a national product catalogue has been a slow one. According to NeHTA, Australia’s federal, state and territory health departments had all signed up to purchase their public health supplies through NPC as of December 2006.
The delay is mirrored in the slog to have put in place national healthcare identifiers – the method by which to accurately identify everybody involved in a healthcare transaction.
As reported by Computerworld Australia the crawl toward a national e-health service took a leap forward in June with the passing of the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 and the Healthcare Identifiers (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010.
The Senate’s passing of the bills followed four months of debate and a last minute push by the Department of Health and Ageing and the NeHTA to get the bills into law.
Earlier in June, it was announced that just three software vendors had signed a developer agreement to take part in the NeHTA’s software testing environment for the national healthcare identifier service.