NEHTA releases final e-health Specifications and Standards Plan

Confirms move away from current development strategy to strategy involving the establishment of "tiger teams"

NEHTA's new standards strategy

NEHTA's new standards strategy

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has published its final Specifications and Standards Plan for the Federal Government’s $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project.

The document, based on the finalised PCEHR Concept of Operations paper released in September, outlines NEHTA’s plan for the project, which is scheduled for delivery by 1 July 2012.

The plan confirms that NEHTA will do away with its current development strategy which uses two separate but related processes — the NEHTA specification process and the Standards Australia Development Process — as it is too slow.

“The current NEHTA specification process is rigorous, with high levels of stakeholder consultation,” the plan reads. “There is often a considerable amount of time between the completion of the NEHTA Work Package Specification Stage and the start of the Standards Australia Working Draft Stage.

“This time lapse in the development lifecycle results in loss of applied knowledge, history and learning, and often results in considerable re-work and re-education being performed during the Working Draft Stage.

“This would make it difficult to manage variance between final NEHTA specifications implemented into lead sites and further specification and standards development.”

According to the document, the limited timeframe for the development and completion of the PCEHR project would be answered with the creation of five “tiger teams", initially proposed by the authority some months ago.

Tiger teams refer to a group of experts assigned to examine or solve problems associated with the PCEHR program including issues around clinical use, consumer advocacy and government policy.

“NEHTA will leverage its existing approach and methodology to establish and manage the required Tiger Teams,” the document reads.

“As a principle, NEHTA seeks to engage early and often, providing as much lead time as possible to Tiger Team members to ensure that critical information can be considered, including management of feedback to inform solution design.”

The tiger teams will contribute to NEHTA’s managed specifications which will then be submitted to the Standards Australia development process.

The five teams have proposed work areas including continuity of care (discharge summary, e-referral, consumer entered information), medications management (electronic transfer of prescription), technical and identification (security), infrastructure services (repositories, portals) and clinical informatics.

Tiger teams will be led by NEHTA but must also include suitable representation from its national infrastructure partner, Accenture, which was awarded the tender in August this year. It will also have representatives from its change and adoption partner and the benefits evaluation partner, as well as contribution from the lead implementation sites.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) told Computerworld Australia the third tranche of PCEHR funding will soon be awarded to NEHTA as final details of the package are negotiated.

DoHa recently revealed the detailed plans for the next round of funding which will support the management of delivery partners to complete the build of the system, to implement strategies to for change and take-up of the PCEHR, and to support the e-health sites in implementing and testing aspects of the e-health record.

It will follow the $50.5 million in funding for the period from May to October 2011, which covered a number of areas including system architecture, detailed business requirements, security design, standard requirements and technical specifications. The initial allocation for the project was $38.5 million for the period from November 2010 to April 2011.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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Tags Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA)

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