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This page is devoted to news, tips, and any other information the Project Management community may find useful or interesting.

Changes to e-Health

I've heard eHealth described as a "program of programs". I guess that description is accurate, the amount of work as represented by the cost (in excess of $3B) would indicate it is one of the largest programs on record. The sheer size of this program ensures that it will occur over a very long period of time. The lengthy schedule (12 years if it does conclude in 2015) will ensure that there will be many changes occurring at all levels from the main program down to the smallest project. There are many external factors influencing this program, and those factors are constantly changing so we can expect the program to change also. Let's look at technical change as an example. Since this is essentially a Data Warehousing project, it needs a database. The largest vendor in this area is Oracle, although I have no idea what product eHealth is using. In 1992, the year this program was initiated Oracle had just released Version 7. The current version of Oracle is 11. Keep in mind that each version brings a major change in the product requiring upgrade work.

Technology is just one of the change agents for this program, and probably the least volatile! Since this is a government program, it cannot help but be influenced by change. There have been 2 elections since the initiation of the program, 2003 and 2007. There is another due in 2011 and there could be another before the program completely delivers in 2015. The 2003 election saw a change in majority and the 2011 could well see another. A change in government could very well see major changes in direction for the program. Other influences the program must deal with are the economy, hospital budgets, changes in the market for IT resources, changes in hardware and software technology, changes in health priorities, and changes in other systems that eHealth systems must interface with.

The eHealth program will have to deal with these changes in a disciplined way in order to be successful. Changes that add value to the program should be facilitated while changes that don't should be rejected. Reed has an additional challenge because of this program's size: determining whether a change that would add value to a project would add value to the program it is part of and whether it would add value to the overall program. Managing change in even small, straightforward projects can be a challenge when different stakeholders become attached to their proposed changes. eHealth will face this challenge in spades. Reed will have to implement a change management plan that controls all these forces and support it. The key component is already in place, the program has a Program Management Office which should be responsible for ensuring that proposed changes are decided based on the value they add to the strategic objectives of eHealth.

One of the key components identified in the "Enabling Practices and Talent Management" portion of the Ontario's eHealth Strategy document is a Metrics and Benefits Measurement program. Acknowledging the importance of measuring success towards achieving the benefits envisioned by the program is a great start, although there are similar programs out there which can provide some indication on the affect electronic records are having on health care. I hope that the program will connect with the change management processes so that measurements and metrics will change when program, or project goals and objectives change.

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