Ceasefire over e-health standards

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Ceasefire over e-health standards

NEHTA standards head made redundant.

The Department of Health and Ageing has agreed to resume the funding required to develop the technical standards that underpin its $466.7 million personally controlled electronic health record initiative.

The department had reportedly cut funding to an e-health standards development program by Standards Australia over the current financial year.

Negotiations around funding for Standards Australia's work continued well into August. A spokesman for the national body said an agreement had since been reached.

"The priorities of standards-related work relating to the PCEHR will be determined in the near future," the spokesman said.

The Department of Health and Ageing was contacted for comment but did not reply at time of publication.

The department this week released its revised concept of operations for the e-health record as the latest in a number of steps towards its ambitious goal for launch of the records on July 1 next year.

"We don't apologise for being impatient for success because we know how beneficial the e-health revolution will be for patient care," health minister Nicola Roxon said upon releasing the revised document on Monday.

According to a program plan published in March, Standards Australia planned to develop at least 26 standards with funding from the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), a body close to the department.

NEHTA focuses on 'engagement' for standards

Government-driven standards development work also faced another potential setback after NEHTA made its standards manager, Tina Connell-Clark, redundant in an internal restructure last Friday.

In an internal email sighted by iTnews, head of architecture Dave Bunker announced the departure of Connell-Clark, who had led standards work at the organisation from 2008.

Connell-Clark's LinkedIn profile also lists industry engagement as one of her former roles at the organisation.

She would be replaced by chief architect Dr Andy Bond, who also assumed responsibilities around e-health interoperability under a newly formed business unit.

"Andy has a high degree of industry and technical credibility and will be responsible for leading in-depth technical conversations to strategic and practical outcomes," Bunker said in an email to staff.

He said the business unit would be focused around internal and external engagement around standards. It would fall under the purview of NEHTA's engagement team.

According to Bunker, Tina was "instrumental" in reaching an agreement with Standards Australia in 2007 that formed the basis of e-health standards work between the bodies since.

A spokesman for NEHTA declined to comment on Connell-Clark's departure.

"NEHTA continues to work closely with Standards Australia (IT-014) and the Department of Health and Ageing to support industry adoption of these principles and standards," the spokesman said.

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