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HealthConnect II

Country: 
Australia
Partner Institute: 
Centre for Health, Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE), University of Technology, Sydney
Survey no: 
(6)2005
Author(s): 
Haas, Marion
Health Policy Issues: 
New Technology
Reform formerly reported in: 
HealthConnect
Current Process Stages
Idea Pilot Policy Paper Legislation Implementation Evaluation Change
Implemented in this survey? no no no no no yes no
Featured in half-yearly report: Health Policy Developments Issue 6

Abstract

The Australian Productivity Commission has recently released a report on Medical Technology in which it was critical of the lack of or deficiencies in the evaluation of HealthConnect, particularly with respect to the lack of evaluation of the costs and benefits of the proposed changes.

Recent developments

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Characteristics of this policy

Degree of Innovation traditional rather traditional innovative
Degree of Controversy consensual consensual highly controversial
Structural or Systemic Impact marginal rather fundamental fundamental
Public Visibility very low low very high
Transferability strongly system-dependent system-neutral system-neutral
current current   previous previous

No change to the ratings reported in the previous survey.

Purpose and process analysis

Current Process Stages

Idea Pilot Policy Paper Legislation Implementation Evaluation Change
Implemented in this survey? no no no no no yes no

Initiators of idea/main actors

  • Government
  • Providers
  • Scientific Community

Stakeholder positions

The Productivity Commission has criticised HealthConnect on the grounds that the approach to assessing the costs and benefits has been disjointed. Previously, other organisations have also criticised aspects of HealthConnect. For example, the Office of the Federal Privacy Comissioner expressed concern that HealthConnect may be implemented widely before the establishment of proper governance mechanisms - obviously an important issue given the senstivity of information stored in medical records. In addition, the HealthConnect Program office itself identified a range of legal issues that would need to be considered in advance of any wider roll-out of the program.

The positions of the stakeholders as outlined above has not changed but the Productivity Commission has criticised HealthConnect on the grounds that the approach to assessing the costs and benefits has been disjointed. Previously, other organisations have also criticised aspects of HealthConnect. For example, the Office of the Federal Privacy Comissioner expressed concern that HealthConnect may be implemented widely before the establishment of proper governance mechanisms - obviously an important issue given the senstivity of information stored in medical records. In addition, the HealthConnect Program office itself identified a range of legal issues that would need to be considered in advance of any wider roll-out of the program.

It is not yet clear whether these criticisms together will result in any changes in the way HealthConnect is rolled out, monitored or evaluated.

Actors and positions

Description of actors and their positions
Government
Governmentvery supportivevery supportive strongly opposed
Providers
Providersvery supportivesupportive strongly opposed
Scientific Community
Scientific Communityvery supportivevery supportive strongly opposed
current current   previous previous

Influences in policy making and legislation

see previous survey

Actors and influence

Description of actors and their influence

Government
Governmentvery strongvery strong none
Providers
Providersvery strongvery strong none
Scientific Community
Scientific Communityvery strongvery strong none
current current   previous previous
Government, Scientific CommunityProviders

Positions and Influences at a glance

Graphical actors vs. influence map representing the above actors vs. influences table.

Adoption and implementation

see previous survey

Monitoring and evaluation

The Productivity Commission report suggests that the planning and evaluation aspects of HealthConnect have not been systematically implemented with the result that some issues which are fundamental to implementation (e.g. design of databases, setting of standards, the feasibility of an "opt-in" versus and "opt-out" model) have not been addressed or have been adressed too late.

Moreover, a number of IT initiatives are underway in individual States which are largely uncoordinated and therefore run the risk of being inoperable due to lack of compatability between programs.

The Productivity Commission has concluded that despite significant investment in health information and communications technology at both national and State/Territory levels, these activities have been for the most part uncordinated with the result that potential benefits are largely unrealised.

Expected outcome

There is no evidence that the situation as described by the Productivity Commisssion is about to change. This means that it is unlikely that investment in health information and communication technology will realise a good return in the near future.

The previous survey indicated that HealthConnect was being carefully implemented and evaluated. This opinion relied on the papers prepared by the government departments undertaking such roles. However, it was also stated that longer term outcomes had not been evaluated and that the possibility of costs outweighing benefits and undesirable effects on privacy were real. The lack of coordination between HealthConnect and similar initiatives in various States was not raised in the previous survey. Overall, in light of the criticisms and evidence of lack of coordination and evaluation, it seems unlikely that HealthConnect as it currently stands represents good value for money.

References

Sources of Information

www.pc.gov.au/study/medicaltechnology/finalreport/index.html

Reform formerly reported in

HealthConnect
Process Stages: Implementation, Evaluation

Author/s and/or contributors to this survey

Haas, Marion

Suggested citation for this online article

Haas, Marion. "HealthConnect II". Health Policy Monitor, October 2005. Available at http://www.hpm.org/survey/au/a6/1