Letter: Health project scope 'carefully controlled', says IT chief

Deputy Director General of health IT responds to Computerworld

Dear Sir,

Unfortunately, despite the feedback we provided to you, the recent article entitled “Whistleblowers question Health IT progress” did not provide an accurate picture of the issues raised. In the interests of space, I am not able to respond to all of them, but it is important to note the following:

First, the National Systems Development Programme (NSDP) does not share characteristics with INCIS. As mentioned in your article, the NSDP is six workstreams consisting of a number of discrete projects rather than being a single system as was the case with INCIS. The scope of each project is carefully controlled with minimal dependencies between the projects and across workstreams.

Second, since the business case was approved in March 2007, NSDP has already delivered a number of quick wins by improving the reliability of Proclaim, and related systems, and ensuring the teams using these aging, high volume, systems are able to maintain the high service levels expected from them. Something the teams do consistently and reliably.

Finally, the Socrates system is in use by the all its intended users, and is currently in a warranty period controlled by the project steering committee following implementation late last year. DHBs will be shown the system and if they see value in using it we will work with them to implement Socrates.

I would reiterate that following Stephen McKernan’s appointment as director general, the ministry has increased the focus on information through creating the new Information Directorate and appointing a new deputy director general.

Part of this focus is better understanding how we can involve the significant number of people working in the health system in appropriate ways.

New Zealand is recognised internationally as an effective user of health information, and we look at building on these successes as our current development activities move forwards. We look forward to discussing these with you as our milestones are achieved.

Yours faithfully

Alan Hesketh

Deputy Director-General

Information Directorate

Ministry of Health

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