Ryall's reforms overtake health ICT collaborative

The Health Management System Collaborative is disbanded

The Health Management System Collaborative (HMSC), a partnership among seven district health boards to develop new clinical IT systems and to transform health service delivery, is officially dead.

After a review of the project by the Health IT Board, consultancy Simpl, which led the HMSC effort, has advised members that the HMSC as a formal project structure “is disbanded but its members’ collaboration and influence on sector strategy will continue.

“The National Health IT Board Review and Graeme Osborne make it clear that there is no support for HMSC to continue as a vehicle for implementation of the vision, and consequently any significant work it wishes to undertake is unlikely to get central approval,” the communication from Simpl advises.

“However, there is interest in integrating HMSC member effort, views and clinical engagement within the programme to be led by the National Health Board and its adjunct the National Health IT Board.”

Simpl CEO Bennett Medary told Computerworld last week that the HMSC had been created in a time of policy vacuum to address pressing issues. That situation has been overtaken at the national level by the Horn report on health services, released last August, the subsequent formation of the Health IT Board and other new consultative forums within the health sector.

Medary says the HMSC has effectively been mainstreamed and its ideas have gone national.

“We are comfortable the value of the HMSC has been recognised,” he says.

The Horn report advised against proceeding with the HMSC project and suggested it be refocused on replacing end-of-life hospital PASs (patient administration systems).

However, in October, the HMSC rejected the review group’s recommendation and appealed to the minister to not support that limitation of its scope. The group also bid for a national role, saying it was willing to engage with the wider health sector to facilitate the implementation of a safe, shared and transferable patient electronic health record within New Zealand.

That effort is now over, the HMSC informed members last month.

“The National Health IT Board has indicated that it supports the HMSC vision and recognises and values its clinical leadership and engagement. The National Health IT Board wants HMSC to progress realisation of its vision through mainstream and nationally supported structures such as national DHB and sector forums and Health IT Board supported initiatives,” last month’s advisory says.

Medary says the HMSC was very focused on transforming health by defining its activities in medical and clinical terms rather than IT terms. He says the collaboration shown between the members was a first, especially as the member DHBs were not geographically related.

The HMSC governance group is supporting the re-establishment of the DHB Chief Executive Information Portfolio, to integrate member efforts with the sector.

“In order to keep clinical leadership ‘at the heart’ of implementing the vision, HMSC will propose that membership be a combination of CEOs and clinicians. Such composite membership of portfolios has previously proven successful,” the advisory says.

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