Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 25 July, 2010.

Here are a few I have come across this week.

Note: Each link is followed by a title and a paragraph or two. For the full article click on the link above title of the article. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or payment.

General Comment:


The present election campaign season is really utterly disappointing. As you read through the various links below you cannot but be totally despairing at the quality of debate in the e-Health space – most especially at this point from the Opposition is just saying they will scrap what the Government is planning while offering no constructive alternative.

Regular readers will know how deeply sceptical I am regarding the present, currently exceptionally vague, poorly defined and poorly communicated Government plans but to offer the alternative of ‘just saying no’ is really pathetic.

It is interesting to note that in the present poll many readers have no faith in either side to deliver, but that the given a choice the Labor approach seems to be preferred. The Opposition really need to step up to the plate and explain what they would do – and the Government needs to be much more transparent about their plans.

I have to say I am, with what we know so far, still very much persuaded that neither offering is acceptable.

From reporting I have seen recently it seems virtually the whole ICT Sector also has some issues with the offerings from both sides and also don’t really have their act together.

See here:

Peak technology sector bodies at odds on agenda for election campaign

TECHNOLOGY industry groups are hoping to use the federal election to win a better deal, but discord on tactics may garble the message.

The Australian Information Industry Association and the Australian Computer Society say Australia's technology performance has suffered due to Labor's fragmented approach to the sector.

However, the two industry groups disagree on how the sector should be organised within the federal government's ministries.

The Labor government split responsibility for information technology away from the previous communications portfolio held by Senator Helen Coonan through the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts.

And here:

Federal Election 2010: To do IT, or not to do IT?

Is that the question as we head to the polls on August 21?

The fate of the national broadband network (NBN), a $467 million committment to e-Health, the computers in schools program and other ICT-related initiatives will be decided on 21 August as the country heads to the polls.

In announcing the election date, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, made specific reference to the incumbent Labor party's committment to the NBN, e-Health and the computers in schools program along with other likely key election issues such as climate change, immigration and the mining tax.

In her speech, Gillard attempted to frame the government's policies as "moving forward" while describing the Opposition's stated committment to cutting the NBN, e-Health initiatives and the computers in schools program as taking the country "backward".

And here:

Coalition will axe GP grants and e-health

by Michael Woodhead

The Coalition says it will axe funding for e-health and GP infrastructure grants as part of its pledge to ‘stop Labor’s reckless spending’ and thus help cut interest rates.

In its list of savings measures released this week, the Coalition has listed seven key parts of Labor’s health reforms that it would cancel to save $1.5 billion.

The programs to be cancelled include $355 million in funding for general practice and primary care infrastructure, $467 million funding to set up e-health record systems, $417 million for Medicare Locals and $110 million for a National Performance Authority.

And here:

Lib's e-health scrap risks "thousands of lives"

Access Card head says e-health no political toy

The Opposition’s pledge to crush the Government’s national e-health scheme will risk "thousands of lives" and waste millions in taxpayer funds, according to a former advisor to the scrapped Access Card.

The Liberal Party has pledged to axe the troubled e-health project to save some $2 billion, but has yet to announce a health policy of its own.

Australia’s first e-health scheme was crushed when the Rudd Government tossed the deeply unpopular Access Card that promised to replace the Medicare card and integrate components of Centrelink and social services, along with personal biometric information.

And lastly here:

Budget cuts are the new black - all trickery, little trimming

July 21, 2010

This election is shaping up as a contest between Labor and the Coalition to see who, if elected, will deliver least to the Australian people. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has laid down the gauntlet, promising any new promises will not add a cent to the budget's bottom line.

Her sparring partner, Tony Abbott, has taken up the challenge with gusto, appearing to relish the task of identifying programs for the chopping block. Having already claimed to have identified $47 billion in budget cuts (although only about $20 billion is real savings), yesterday he announced another $1.2 billion. Budget cuts are the new black.

After the profligate pre-election spendathons initiated by the Howard government, this newfound prudence by both parties is admirable enough.

But the obsession with balancing the books risks going too far. Worthy policies could hit the cutting room floor or never get a running start, all in the name of ''fiscal conservatism''.

Perhaps the most glaring example of false economy is in the Coalition's health announcements. Abbott has promised $1.5 billion for mental health, an area sorely in need of funding and attention. But to fund that promise, in part anyway, Abbott has also promised to cut $467 million from the e-Health initiative.


Medical system full of bugs


22 Jul, 2010 04:26 PM

Doctors from Batemans Bay and Moruya Hospitals have criticized the new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, which has just been put into use at both hospitals.

They were surprised by the praise it was given by Great Southern Area Health Service acting eastern sector general manager Karen Lenihan in a Bay Post/Moruya Examiner article last Wednesday.

Batemans Bay Doctor Lachlan Brown said the majority of staff at the hospital were finding the new system difficult to use.


Technology the ticket to elderly home care

OLDER Australians could remain in their own homes far longer and in better health with the support of smart devices and medical systems.

In a groundbreaking study of the emerging field of gerontechnology, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering says huge social and financial benefits are already being derived from technology-based ageing-in-place initiatives in other countries, yet the issue is not on the agenda here.

ATSE is calling for a new national approach that shifts funding and policy models to prevention of illness and injury among the elderly, rather than spending on hospital beds and aged-care facilities.

"Using technologies to help elderly people remain in their homes is a really important way of ensuring a healthy, safe and secure future for our ageing population," says Vaughan Beck, ATSE's executive director.


Aussie operator: Mobile-based diabetes manager

Wednesday - December 30th, 2009 - 12:06pm EST by Brian Dolan

Entra Health Systems, an applied healthcare technology developer, is powering a mobile phone-based diabetes management service recently launched on Australian wireless operator Telstra’s network. The service is called the Telstra Diabetes Management Online Service in Australia, and it includes Entra’s MyGlucoHealth Wireless meter, Bluetooth technology and the user’s mobile phone. Entra is calling it the “first commercially available mobile phone application for people with diabetes” in Australia.


Green light for medical video conferencing

Posted Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:17am AEST

The success of a trial of video conferencing at the Bendigo and Echuca hospitals has led to its approval for long term use.

The $10 million program linked local doctors and patients with specialists at four Melbourne hospitals over the past 18 months.


National Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) specifications released

20 July 2010. NEHTA has released its latest draft of national specifications for the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions between general practitioners and community pharmacies.

The draft is the culmination of 12 months of development and incorporates extensive feedback from clinicians, consumers and technology experts around the country. It will now progress to Standards Australia, through IT 14, for ongoing consultation and refinement with the goal of updating existing Australian standards and developing new Technical Specifications by the end of 2010.


Youth lead the adoption of e-health

22 July 2010. The ‘net’ generation, spanning 13 to 33 year olds, has embraced technology as the norm and is expected to adopt e-health as just par for the course in their highly connected lives according to several leading youth health experts.

Jonathan Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer of the Inspire Foundation, the organisation behind the web-based mental health support service for young people, said, “As an organisation that uses the internet to connect with young people, we see a number of benefits for young people flowing from the proposed e-health record.

“They have grown up archiving their life on social networking sites such as Facebook, so saving personal data into web environments is neither alien, nor something they fear. To the contrary, they expect to be able to access their information when they need it, and save it into a secure, centralised location.”


GP practice versus guidelines: it’s academic

23rd Jul 2010

Kirrilly Burton

CLINICAL practice guidelines often fail to consider the difficulties of implementation in general practice and risk becoming used as an unfair benchmark, a GP claims.

In a letter to the MJA, Dr Peter Radford, a GP from Benalla in rural Victoria, said the authors of guidelines and consensus statements failed to consider that GPs had to balance competing demands and treatment recommendations.

Dr Radford was responding to the AusHEART study, which evaluated evidence-practice gaps in GP cardiovascular risk management. The study authors, mostly from the George Institute for International Health and the University of Sydney, said there was “substantial under-treatment” of high-risk patients, with only 34% receiving a combination of an anti-hypertensive and a statin, as recommended in guidelines.


Telstra Plans Launch of e-health Cloud Services, Tip of the Iceberg for Opportunity

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Telstra and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) announced the signing of an agreement to work together to launch e-health applications on a web-hosted service platform.

The announcement comes at a time when the e-health agenda in Australia is heating up following the government's commitment earlier in the year of more than AUD460 million for a national e-health strategy and the federal parliament's recent passing of crucial enabling legislation for healthcare identifiers.

One of the biggest challenges for e-health reform is to achieve a more coherent and integrated approach to sharing information across more than 1,300 hospitals, 20,000 GP and specialist practices and 5,000 pharmacies. The fragmentation of the sector's governance regimes and ongoing turmoil in funding and organizational arrangements make top-down reform a tough game that will be played out over decades.


Telstra needs 'more compelling' e-health offering: analyst

Lisa Banks

22.07.2010 kl 00:21 | CIO Australia

New research indicates Telstra must develop a more compelling offer on e-health if momentum is to take place in that market.

New research indicates Telstra must develop a more compelling offer on e-health if momentum is to take place in that market.

Research company Ovum said Telstra's plans to provide an e-health web portal in conjunction with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) must use more than its T-Suite SaaS portal capability.


Lessons learnt from Queensland Health payroll debacle

  • From: AAP
  • July 23, 2010 1:00PM

THE Queensland government has promised it won't rush a new payroll system for police, fire and ambulance officers, in the wake of the nurse pay debacle.

Ambulance, fire, emergency service, and corrective service officers are still being paid by the outdated Lattice system -- the software used by the Queensland Health (QH) payroll office before it switched to its current troubled program.

Those in charge of implementing QH's new system -- in which many staff have been underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all -- were criticised in an auditor-general's report for rushing the system's introduction before proper testing was done and fail-safes were in place.


iSOFT wins Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year award

Sydney – 20 July 2010 – iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF), one of the world’s largest healthcare information technology companies, has won the 2010 Asia Pacific, Frost and Sullivan Hospital Information Systems Company of the Year award.

The award acknowledges iSOFT’s achievements in the hospital information systems market, and used the following criteria to benchmark its performance against two key competitors:

• Growth strategy and implementation

• Degree of innovation in business process

• Leadership in customer value and market penetration

• Revenue and market share growth

The award recognised iSOFT’s ability to adopt the strategy of expanding and strengthening its core competencies through the acquisition of key companies such as Patient Safety International Pty Ltd (PSI) that uses an ontology comprising a comprehensive set of terms developed by the Australian Patient Safety Foundation. In addition, iSOFT acquired Bridgeforward a US healthcare application integration software developer, and Hatrix Pty Ltd, a company that focuses on electronic medication management systems.


Federal Court raises barriers for claiming copyright in works created by multiple authors


Irene Zeitler and Steve Wong


July 14 2010

In brief

  • Whenever works are created through the efforts of many individuals, there is a risk that copyright cannot be claimed in such works unless each individual involved in their creation can be identified.
  • This risk is enhanced when the works are created through the separate contributions of individuals working relatively autonomously, rather than as a result of collaborative effort.
  • Businesses involved in the creation of such works will need to introduce appropriate procedures to record the identity of each individual involved in the creation of copyright works, as well as their respective contributions and their assignment of copyright to the business.


Computer system gives ears to those who cannot hear


July 19, 2010

A system that allows deaf students to fully take part in mainstream education is being trialled in a Sydney school. About 10,000 Australian children with hearing loss stand to benefit.

Under the system, the teacher wears a lapel microphone that transmits the audio to a captioner who uses a voice-to-text program to send the words to the student's laptop in under seven seconds.

Deaf students and disability experts say it could revolutionise how those with hearing loss are taught in secondary and tertiary education. The system Access Innovation Live, was developed over three years by the Sydney company Access Innovation Media.

It is being trialled at Robert Townson High School in Raby in Sydney's south-west, and the company is expanding the pilot scheme nationally.


Tax office goes Ubuntu for AUSkey Linux standard

Generic Linux and Unix port to go public

Rodney Gedda 21/07/2010 09:35:00

The Australian Taxation Office is preparing to release a Linux port of its AUSkey authentication software with Ubuntu being the reference distribution for testing and development.

AUSkey is the federal government’s security key that can be used for single sign-on across a number of online services and is required to use the Department of Treasury’s new Standard Business Reporting (SBR) service.

The ATO has started using AUSkey as a replacement to its legacy digital certificates, but some Linux users reported compatibility problems as the client is only available for Windows and Mac OS X.


Govt receives Gershon Review evaluation

By Josh Taylor, on July 14th, 2010

in brief The Department of Finance and Deregulation has confirmed that it has received the review into the government's implementation of the recommendations made in Sir Peter Gershon's report on government information technology.

In March this year, the government brought in former Sydney Olympics CIO and former National E-Health Transition Authority CEO Dr Ian Reinecke to review the implementation of recommendations from Gershon and to assess what the role of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will be after the ICT reform program had been completed.


Coalition to run with three-prong broadband plan

THE Coalition' broadband and communications policy will be based on three steps to improve internet access in areas with poor service.

The Coalition has feverishly been consulting over the past six months with industry stakeholders, service providers and its in-house expert, Paul Fletcher -- former Optus corporate and regulatory affairs director, and current federal Liberal member for Bradfield.

Sources close to the development of the policy said the crux of the Coalition's plan was a three-pronged broadband strategy that would involve reviving large parts of the Howard government's aborted Opel project to provide internet access to under-served parts of the country.

The Opel project called for a $1.9bn rural and regional broadband network using wireless and satellite technology, but it was pushed aside to make room for the national broadband network six months after the Labor government took office in 2007.

The other two prongs of the Coalition's broadband policy involve continuing the development of new backhaul links to areas where Telstra is usually the only broadband supplier, and to increase the discretionary powers of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission so it can more easily settle disputes in the telecommunications industry.


Government plans for expert to check each banned web page

THE federal government will hand-pick an "expert" to manually check up to 10,000 blacklisted online web pages.

The proposal, which one critic described as too traumatic and absurd, will come to fruition over the next year if Labor wins the August 21 election.

Labor will take to the polls its controversial policy of mandatory ISP-level filtering of refused classification (RC) content.

On July 9, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government would recommend to state and territory ministers that a review of RC be conducted.


Filter not part of preference talks: Greens

  • Andrew Colley
  • From: Australian IT
  • July 20, 2010 6:03PM

THE internet filter was not up for negotiation when the Greens cut its preference deal with Labor for the upcoming federal election.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said that the party had not softened its position on the filter legislation as part of the preference deal which is expected to strengthen its numbers in the Senate after the August 21 poll.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy earlier this month decided to shelve the filter legislation to conduct a review of the classification system in cooperation with state and territory governments.




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