By: Natalie Akoorie

Waikato DHB virtual care and innovation executive director Darrin Hackett has lost his job in the fallout of the failed SmartHealth app. Photo / Waikato DHB

The man in charge of SmartHealth, the $26 million virtual health flop, has been made redundant from Waikato District Health Board.

Virtual care and innovation executive director Darrin Hackett’s job was disestablished under an executive leadership restructure by the DHB’s interim chief executive Derek Wright.

However Wright created a new position, virtual care director, which would not report directly to him however a report into its poor performance saw the new position canned.

Hackett, who was one of the co-authors of the highly criticised business case to spend $15m on virtual care, could have applied for that role.

Last week an EY [Ernst Young] report revealed the two-year SmartHealth trial had cost taxpayers $25.7m despite failing to attract the targeted number of users.

It’s implementation was poor, consultation with doctors was almost non-existent, leadership was lacking and targets were too optimistic, the $240,000 review commissioned by the DHB found.

A spokeswoman confirmed Wright dropped the new virtual care director position after the damning EY report was heard by the board last Wednesday.

This week Wright told staff in a post on the intranet that with the DHB not renewing the contract with HealthTap, the American telehealth company that powered SmartHealth, the virtual care and innovation role had been disestablished.

“Darrin Hackett who fills this role will therefore be made redundant and by agreement leave the organisation on Friday, June 29, 2018,” Wright said.

“Until that date Darrin will ensure that outstanding activity is completed or passed to others for completion.”

Wright said the DHB remained committed to virtual care and would complete its health system and care in the community plans before deciding the next steps for online doctor services.

He said any decision about future virtual care and acquiring the technology needed to drive it would take up to a year.

Hackett had been at the DHB for seven years in senior and challenging roles, Wright said, including chief information officer.

“Through them all Darrin has maintained a cheerful demeanour and a huge enthusiasm to do the right thing for the organisation and the people it represents.

“He goes with my personal best wishes and with my immense gratitude for his efforts on our behalf.”

He is the sixth member of former chief executive Dr Nigel Murray’s 18-strong executive leadership team to depart the DHB since Murray resigned amid an expenses scandal in October last year.

Former Waikato Hospital services executive director Brett Paradine quit suddenly in November last year.

Strategy and funding executive director Julie Wilson resigned after Wright’s second restructure proposal earlier this year.

Her offsider, strategy and funding clinical director Professor Ross Lawrenson, stepped aside to focus on clinical work, as did chief medical officer Dr Tom Watson, who wanted to concentrate on his speciality, anaesthetics.

And community and clinical support manager Mark Spittal resigned in April to take up a position of operations executive director for the Western NSW Local Health District in Australia.

Spittal’s wife, Mary-Anne Spence, clinical nurse director of emergency and acute medicine at Waikato Hospital, would also leave the DHB.

Source: NZ Herald

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