July 9, 2011

eHealth Discrimination in Slovenia?

Slovene eHealth is in turmoil. After recent disagreements between our health minister and the (recently appointed) national eHealth project leader Dr de Leonni Stanonik the project has been left with no project leader. The ministry decided to change the approach and created a special task force (led by the minister Marušič himself) to break the project's spell.
In the beginning of July the ministry opened a new Secretary position in the (new) eHealth sector that is likely (given the published job description) to be responsible for running the eHealth project operatively.
The application deadline was last week. Today I couldn't hold back my curiosity any longer and went to check the published description of the position's responsibilities and formal requirements.
What struck me was the fact that medical doctors, nurses, pharmacologists (and say lawyers) are not able to apply for the eHealth position while mathematicians and mechanical engineers can.
In times when importance of end-user engagement and dialogue in development of new e-services has long been proven crucial, medical and nursing professional background would in my opinion be of key benefit. And taking into account the demanding past experience in engaging Slovene medical professionals in the eHealth project (they are always busy - and that I can understand), it would certainly be of benefit to have as a secretary someone who can deal with them efficiently.
So let's look at who is eligible to apply: besides the obvious (IT background) you could apply if you were a mathematician or mechanical engineer (relation to eHealth remains unclear). I can also understand that an economist (eligible) likely has an understanding of managing cash flows of complex projects, but why would an electrical engineer do this better than a medical doctor or a nurse (not eligible)? Or why a mathematician has superior eHealth knowledge to an MD.
This leaves me further disillusioned about the future of national eHealth in Slovenia. But I hope I'm mistaken.
What's your opinion on this?


Ian McNicoll said...

Whether this represents 'discrimination', I am not certain but out experience in the UK suggest that excluding clinicians from these sort of roles is normally fatally damaging to any national eHealth project. We certainly need great engineers, economists and probably even mathematicians, to be closely involved but the role of clinical leadership is paramount, both to give key insights into the business process and to give the clinical community confidence, when buy-in is crucial.

Nrip Nihalani said...

Leaving out clinicians and doctors from an eHealth /HIT policy making team sounds ridiculous, unless they are looking at a long drawn approach where they will bring docs/clinicians as advisers for a start and then incorporate them full time when the structural premises of the policy have been defined.