NZHIT response to Auditor-General’s report into HealthTap
The HealthTap situation was both avoidable and disappointing as it pointed to factors related to leadership, governance and probity that have been highlighted in the auditor-general’s report.
These are all factors that a district health board would be expected to be well aware of and have mechanisms in place to avoid in the first place or to manage if they started to occur.
In financial terms, there has been the obvious waste of many millions of taxpayer-provided funding, which also includes all of the additional costs related to the auditor-general’s investigation and all other resources associated with this situation.
In health terms, it is so sad that this money has not made its way to where it should have been spent in the first place – providing health and disability services to people when they need them the most.
In emotional terms, this whole situation has impacted (and continues to impact) on many very good, highly professional people working at this DHB. Some are no longer there as a direct result of what has occurred.
The human capital effect seems to have been swept under the carpet to a large extent and this is something that will have to be addressed. The HealthTap failure was not directly related to their inability to deliver on the ground. In fact, the commitment and endeavour shown by these people in the face of immense adversity is to be commended. It is hoped that the DHB has put in place a full whistleblower process that assures full protection in the future.
Finally, in technological terms, it was disappointing to see something that had a lot of potential crash and burn in such a dramatic fashion. This does nothing for the confidence of everyone involved, from politicians through to patients, and means the rest of us have to work even harder to ensure this is seen as an extreme outlier that could have been avoided and won’t be repeated.
In order to meet current and future demands, the New Zealand health and disability sector must have robust, fully functional virtual healthcare systems in place and we must not let this Waikato DHB situation distract us from achieving this. To be clear, this situation isn’t about the outright failure of the technology nor that the strategic intent was wrong.