A bit of a stink for the college

Our top story for the week concerns an issue that has been bubbling away for a couple of years now and has raised its head again with the news that the RACGP has agreed to partner with a Canadian vendor called Myca Health to help it survey GP views on practice management systems.

Myca sells a PMS called Hello Health into the US market and is planning on making an advance on the Australian market in future. To do this, it's looking to tailor the existing technology for local requirements, and has entered into an arrangement with the RACGP to get its help in facilitating a conversation between members and Myca on what they'd like to see from a PMS.

The college assures us that there's no money changing hands – although Hello Health is a major sponsor of the college's annual conference next month and has taken a booth – but that if the product turns out to be any good, the RACGP may consider endorsing it and marketing it to members.

As you'd expect, this has raised a bit of a stink in the vendor community, which has been servicing the GP market for a quarter of a century and is already highly competitive with a range of offerings to choose from. It has also raised quite a stink within the RACGP itself, with some members telling Pulse+IT that it's in no way a good look for an esteemed medical college to be seen to be favouring one product over the others, or potentially entering into commercial arrangements with technology vendors, especially when there is no real product to speak of as yet.

The same criticisms have been levelled at the college in the past over its RACGP Oxygen arm, which has as part of its mission statement the goal to “partner with industry to bring the best technology to general practice”. How this fits in with its main role of educating and training GPs and maintaining standards for quality clinical practice is the question.

One vendor we spoke to said all the industry wants is a level playing field on which to compete. Another question is why an overseas company would be any better equipped to service the local market than local vendors. But in essence, the real issue is the question of whether or not the college should be endorsing software products without a rigorous framework for comparison.

It reminds us of the developing situation in New Zealand that has disgruntled many in the software sector there. Over the last few years, several primary health organisations (PHOs) have gone to market to suss out the offerings and putting vendors through their paces. The four big PHOs – ProCare in Auckland, Compass in Wellington, Pegasus in Christchurch and Pinnacle in Hamilton – have all gone through this process in recent years, much to the consternation of the industry there.

All four have chosen not to recommend the incumbent vendor, but while some practices have begun changing over to the preferred supplier, from what we can see the vast bulk of practices are in absolutely no hurry to make a move. That comes as no surprise as the data migration alone can be a nightmare.

It's a comparable situation – should a medical college, or a member organisation, be making these sorts of endorsements? Let us know what you think in our poll.

Sign up to our weekend edition to vote or leave your thoughts below.

Our poll last week asked: Do you think the MyHR information campaign has been adequate? That's a big no, our readers say, by a huge margin: 83.5 per cent to 16.5 per cent.

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