Background NEHTA Work Program

Background

Improved information management and information communication technology (IM&ICT) is generally regarded as a crucial driver of health system reform. The object of such reform is to improve individual health outcomes while also improving the cost efficiency of health service provision.

In Australia, there are many activities underway and significant progress has already been achieved in health IM&ICT. However, stake-holders identified that these activities are often uncoordinated, inadequately resourced and suffer from diffuse accountability and decision-making.

In response, the National Health Information Group (NHIG) and the Australian Health Information Council (AHIC) recommended change.

NHIG and AHIC identified a number of critical national health IM&ICT priorities that required urgent attention. These priorities relate to the common standards and fundamental "building blocks" that will enable interconnectivity of health information systems.

NHIG and AHIC also recommended the establishment of a new national health IM&ICT entity, tasked with delivering on these priorities.

In April 2004, Health Ministers endorsed-in-principle the establishment of a national entity to drive these critical national health IM&ICT priorities.

NEHTA

Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) members felt that achieving progress in some IM&ICT priorities was so urgent that it could not wait for the entity's establishment. AHMAC recommended that a transition team be set up to progress these urgent priorities and simultaneously finalise the establishment of the new national health IM&ICT entity.

On 29 July 2004, Health Ministers reaffirmed the importance of IM&ICT to health sector reform, and endorsed the immediate establishment of the transition arrangements. This transition team is known as the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).

NEHTA is a national team funded by contributions from all jurisdictions (Australian Government, States and Territories). The team is responsible to both AHMAC and Health Ministers, with a group of five AHMAC CEOs providing ongoing oversight of its activities. An Advisory Committee of experts and jurisdictional representatives has been established to provide guidance.

NEHTA's Work Program

Over the 12-months to June 2005, NEHTA has a specific work program and deliverables, as agreed by Ministers. The work program focuses on finalising the design and transition to the new entity and progressing the 12-month national health IM&ICT priorities.

The 12-month national health IM&ICT priorities were those areas deemed critical for major jurisdictional (Australian Government, States and Territories) health IM&ICT programs. These programs include agency-level information system implementations, as well as regional or jurisdictional implementations that are, in many cases, part of a national implementation (e.g., HealthConnect).

The 12-month national health IM&ICT priorities are:

  • Clinical Data Standards;
  • Patient, Provider and Product Identification Standards;
  • Patient, Provider and Product Directories;
  • Supply Chain;
  • Consent Models;
  • Secure Messaging and Information Transfer; and
  • Technical Integration Standards.

The core NEHTA team will provide oversight and management of the work program in each of the national priorities areas, and are accountable to Ministers for the provision of the agreed deliverables. The team will engage additional project-based resources, the 'project teams', on a contractual basis, as required. Both the core NEHTA team and the project teams will be conducting extensive stakeholder consultation nationally.

Further information can be found on NEHTA's website which can be found at www.nehta.gov.au