NEHTA presses pause on e-health records

The implementation was stopped after internal checks detected issues in the specifications

The National E-Heath Transition Authority (NEHTA) has halted the implementation of primary care desktop software development at a number of lead implementation sites for the $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project.

A spokesperson for the authority told Computerworld Australia the decision to “pause” the implementation came after internal checks detected issues in the latest release of its specifications in November 2011.

“Our specifications are subject to rigorous assessment processes,” the spokesperson said.

“These processes highlighted some technical incompatibilities across versions. We have identified problems with the specifications and have made the decision in order to avoid any risks.”

The pilot sites were established to test and deploy software and e-health capability in preparation for the PCEHR.

“This pause will impact work currently being undertaken by the primary care e-health network sites Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local, Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local, Hunter Urban Medicare Local and Accoras.

“Greater Western Sydney, St Vincent's, Calvary, Cradle Coast, NT and Mater will be impacted on the primary care elements of their projects. This issue should not impact delivery by Medibank, FredIT and JeHDI.”

According to the spokesperson, the software had not yet gone live but was being tested to “iron out the bugs” prior to the system’s go live date of 1 July 2012.

On releasing its final specifications plan in November, NEHTA cemented its plan to move away from its current development strategy to an approach involving the establishment of "tiger teams".

The authority will continue to work with the pilot sites as well at the software vendors to “recalibrate their activity within the e-health programme”.

“In large projects of this scale it is not unusual for problems of this type to arise. We are working to manage this situation to ensure the programme is delivered.”

The Department of Ageing (DoHA) last year indicated it would allocate the third round of funding to NeHTA for the PCEHR in November 2011, following the first and second allocations which covered the project until October. However, the funding has yet to be allocated.

When contacted by Computerworld Australia, NEHTA declined to comment on the reasons for the delay in funding or whether the delay would cause any setbacks to the project going live by 1 July.

DoHA has yet to rely.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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