Last September in Moncton, a few of us gathered at the local Moncton restaurant to celebrate the approval of my resolution which directed the leadership of the NBMS not to impede EMR users from connecting with Department of Health computers. One of those present said he had seen one of the Velante team members in a serious pout, walking down the sidewalk and saying petulantly “It’s not fair! I worked so hard on this!”
It’s a fact of life that hard work is not a guarantee of success. I could work really hard at trying to grow pineapples in my backyard, or catch a tuna in Killarney lake, but it ain’t gonna happen.
Sometimes it is not the person who is to blame. It’s not that the Velante marketer didn’t work hard enough. It’s just that the plan was faulty from the outset. More research should have been done to determine how many doctors wanted an EMR, which product was acceptable to them, and what they would be prepared to pay. Now, unfortunately, Velante is heading down a road to nowhere with no easy way to turn back. There simply are not sufficient numbers of doctors in this province with enough interest in the Velante plan to make it work.
To the credit of the Velante folk, they don’t quit easily. Recognizing that the secret monopoly deal was in jeopardy, and that their product might actually have to – perish the thought – compete for clients on a level playing field, those at the top decided to bury the resolution in red tape and blame-casting.
First I was told that the executive committee would have to come up with an implementation plan for the resolution, and that I should be patient. For a while they continued to deny the existence of the secret Data Sharing Arrangement. Finally, when someone was good enough to obtain a copy of the covert document, the cat was finally out of the bag.
At this point, the Velante strategy changed regarding the possibility of adding more vendors. Now it was the Minister of Health who “wouldn’t hear of it.” That’s the word I got from NBMS Board Chairman Dr. David Flower, a man who I hold in the highest regard, and for whom I have great respect. When Dave tells you something, you know 1) He has thought carefully about it and 2) He firmly believes what he tells you to be true.
Now the story being told by the Minister of Health, which he told to me in a one-on-one conversation, is that one of the leaders of the NBMS did NOT come to him and say “Gee, Mr. Flemming, this isn’t my idea, but as a result of a resolution passed at the NBMS Annual General Meeting, I am compelled to ask you to consider renegotiating the Data Sharing Agreement to allow for more than one vendor.” Should have been simple enough. If it were true that the Minister would not hear of such a thing, he would be quite quick to tell the NBMS to take a hike, and they could go on their merry way. At that point it would have been case closed. No point lobbying the NBMS. The Minister is not willing to talk about it.
However, if we are to believe the Minister – and I do – he was approached by one of the NBMS leaders, and the conversation went something like this:
NBMS: “Uh, Mr Flemming, you’re not thinking about opening up the Data Sharing Agreement to allow for more than one EMR vendor, are you? I mean, we have a deal, don’t we?”
MOH: “Yes we have a deal. I intend to honour that agreement.”
NBMS: “OK. Great then. Umm. How about those Maple Leafs!”
I do not have a great deal of faith that any genuine effort was made to respect the wishes of the membership and implement the resolution as intended. That failure to proceed as directed has led us to where we are today. The attempt to move ahead with the intent of the resolution appears to have been half-hearted at best, self-serving and duplicitous at worst. Or maybe that is being too generous.
Now the NBMS strategy has changed again. Following the Minister’s very clear statement last week that he is quite willing to amend the Data Sharing Agreement, now it is the NBMS that say it is non-negotialble. They claim that if even one more vendor is added to the mix, their business plan will fail.
Well, guess what, it already failed. Get over it.
You can’t sell doctors an expensive product that they don’t like, you can’t grow pineapples in New Maryland, and there are no tuna in Killarney Lake.
Let’s just move on to Data Sharing Agreement 2.0…