Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 10 October, 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 subscription payment.

General Comment:


The first item below is really getting to be quite a concern and it seems that yet again a newly founded government entity is having more than a reasonable amount of difficulty implementing what really should be a pretty simple project - i.e. creating a register of licenced health care professionals.

One really wonders how such a project can be messed up and comprehensively as this one seems to be at present.

Of course there is a spill over to e-Health as it is this entity that is meant to be the source of information on all clinical professionals that is to be used with the National Authentication System for Health (NASH). It may be that NASH finds itself with external as well as internal problems going forward. We shall see but AHPRA really needs to get its act together and soon!

Elsewhere the week has provided an eclectic collection of news snippits.


Irate doctors miss national plan deadline

Julia Medew

October 5, 2010

DOCTORS say the transition to a national registration and accreditation scheme for health professionals has been disastrous, with the new authority failing to register thousands of practitioners before last week's deadline for the changeover.

The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (AHPRA) asked about 39,000 doctors with state-based registrations to register with its new national database by the end of September. By yesterday, about one-quarter, or 10,000, doctors had not done so.

The unregistered doctors, including about 4000 in Victoria, have been told they have until the end of October to register or they will not be able to practise from November 1.


Pay-for-performance schemes lack IT support

6th Oct 2010

Andrew Bracey

PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE schemes should not be viewed as a panacea for health system funding, experts warn, and health policy makers must give serious consideration to Australia’s health IT systems before starting on this path.

Writing in this week’s MJA, researchers from the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne said Australia needed to take particular note of lessons learned from the failures of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) scheme used in the UK.

Co-author Professor Anthony Scott, from Melbourne University’s Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said the UK pay-for-performance system had largely failed due to payments focusing on outcome targets alone.

A system that encouraged and rewarded quality improvement as well as maintenance of peak quality care levels could work, he said.


Database to raise alarm on vaccines

  • Natasha Bita, Consumer editor
  • From: The Australian
  • October 04, 2010 12:00AM

HEALTH authorities are to be alerted instantly to any severe side effects from vaccination in the first "real-time" immunisation database.

The Australian Health Ministers Conference will debate Western Australia's plan to set up an online monitoring system for immunisation, to avoid a repeat of this year's flu-shot scare.

The proposed database would require doctors and immunisation clinics to enter the details of all vaccinations given to children, as well as any side-effects.

More than 100 Australian children suffered febrile convulsions after being injected with a new flu vaccine in March and April, and the Queensland coroner was unable to rule it out as the cause of death of a Brisbane toddler.

The Chief Medical Officer has suspended the Fluvax vaccine -- a world-first combination of seasonal and swine-flu strains -- for the under-fives.


E-health initiative to cut costs

8 October 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

Health care workers are being urged to take advantage of a new e-health system to help reduce administrative costs and save time.

Specialist Link managing director and Former Young Australian of the Year, Alison Hardacre said web based software system had the potential to alleviate the unmet needs of patients and help health professionals.

A finalist in the University of Queensland (UQ) business school’s enterprize business planning competition, she said the software was designed to connect practitioners and patients with GPs and other health providers including Medicare.


Support builds for electronic drug alerts

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 | Rachael Bolton

Listed pharmaceuticals giant CSL has joined mounting calls for a centralised, electronic drug alert system to more quickly identify adverse reactions to medicines before widespread community health problems arise.


Alert system may not work: Guild

6 October 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

Doctors need to start recording vaccines they administer and starter-packs they give patients if an electronic adverse reaction system is to work, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said.

Responding to a call from the Community Health Forum, Guild president Kos Sclavos told Pharmacy eNews an electronic warning system may not have raised the alarm earlier this year when children in Western Australia were experiencing adverse reactions to CSL’s Fluvax.

He said many doctors do not write prescriptions when they administer vaccines and therefore do not record them through prescribing software, which he noted could be used to highlight any suspected adverse reactions, with pop-ups warning doctors of adverse events associated with medications.

“It’s not like you’re writing a script for a medicine with a vaccine, they’re not recorded via the prescribing software, so there is absolutely no certainty that even if that [alert] was in place today that technology would’ve picked up this vaccine issue,” he said.


TGA sets its sights on iPhone medical apps

5th Oct 2010

David Brill

THE days of iMedicine could be numbered, as the Federal Government turns its attention to the unregulated world of health-related iPhone applications.

Amid growing public pressure, the TGA has announced it will closely scrutinise new apps to see whether any are making unsubstantiated health claims.

The move follows calls from consumers for greater regulation of smart phone applications, some of which claim to monitor heart rate or blood glucose, and even diagnose disorders.

There are more than 1500 smart phone applications believed to available for health professionals and many more for the public.


Press Release:

Take Control of Your Health Records

October 9th, 2010 (Sydney, Australia)

People often lose track of their medical records, especially information relating to vaccinations and allergies. A new application, was launched during the weekend which allows people to track their immunisations and allergy information in one place, anytime, anywhere.

The website can track past vaccinations and notify users of future vaccinations. Users can print out a card which will have a unique URL which doctors can access to check the patient’s vaccination and allergy information.

Temporarily located at:


Can e-health improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes?

5 October 2010. E-health has the capacity to enhance the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to Dr Brad Murphy, an Aboriginal man from the Kamilaroi people of northwest New South Wales and a solo GP in Eidsvold (central Queensland). Dr Murphy is also the Inaugural Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Dr Murphy can see enormous potential of having individual healthcare identifiers for each patient, which will then enable the exchange of vital health information between remote GPs, such as himself, and city based specialists.

“An issue that we face is that many Aboriginal people use multiple services and they often see many different doctors who each then have to try and build up a patient history. If we can have one electronic record that can be accessed each time that would also help to build a medical history for the patient that will improve treatment outcomes.


Finalised Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach and Communications plan

7 October 2010. NEHTA is pleased to announce the release of the finalised Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach and Communications plan.

This Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach will guide development of implementation plans for adoption of identifiers by healthcare providers over the next two years.


E-health needs implementation body: Haikerwal

NEHTA'S Mukesh Haikerwal has called for a new entity to co-ordinate activities across the states and with the private sector.

Dr Haikerwal, head of the National E-Health Transition Authority's clinical leads program, says a more integrated approach is needed if the community is to gain improved patient care and cost savings from e-health programs.

"To reap the benefits, the role of NEHTA must be matched with a national implementation arm with the ability to co-ordinate across the states, and across the myriad private providers that administer the bulk of healthcare to Australians," Dr Haikerwal said. "With the rubber now set to hit the health superhighway, health professionals urgently need technical capacity and expert guidance to ensure clinical relevance, utility, safety and acceptability of e-health systems."

NEHTA was established in January 2004 as a joint federal-state not-for-profit entity intended to deliver a nationwide health IT infrastructure.

iSOFT achieves ISO security standard at Bangalore centre

6 October 2010

iSOFT has announced that its Bangalore centre has achieved the ISO 27001 information security certification.

The move follows ISO 27001 re-certification of the company's UK operations at Banbury and Prestwich earlier this year. Certification at the company’s development centre at Chennai is underway.

“The certification confirms that iSOFT properly manages and protects valuable information and demonstrates to our customers that security of their information is paramount,” said Andrea Fiumicelli, iSOFT’s acting Chief Executive Officer. “It also gives customers the surety that we have embraced and provide best-practice, world-class security standards.”


iMDsoft to install MetaVision clinical information system across Queensland's network of public hospitals

6. October 2010 06:08

iMDsoft® announced today that the Government of Queensland has signed an agreement to install MetaVision® in selected ICUs across the state's network of public hospitals. MetaVision will be installed in 14 hospitals and will be implemented in a diverse range of ICU settings including pediatric, neurology and cardiac units. The university-affiliated Gold Coast Hospital will be the first to implement MetaVision under this agreement.

“As governments all over the world pursue e-health reforms to standardize care and reduce costs, they require a truly scalable, unified system to advance their goals.”

Queensland, Australia's second largest state by area, sought an enterprise solution to facilitate care standardization and enforcement of clinical best practices throughout its complex hospital network. MetaVision was selected as the single electronic patient record for the network's ICUs, replacing paper records and competing software systems. With centralized configuration management, MetaVision will enable hospitals to enhance operational efficiency through access to common data with consistent terminology.


Polycom targets NBN with Melbourne office

Oct 6, 2010 9:28 AM

First to demo OTX 300 in APAC.

Victoria's Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Development Jaala Pulford joined Polycom chief executive Andy Miller on Monday to launch the vendor's first Melbourne office and demonstration centre.

The office added to Polycom's presence in Sydney, Canberra and Perth, and became the first to deploy the Polycom Open Telepresence Experience High Definition 300 in the Asia Pacific.

Michael Chetner, managing director for Polycom Australia and New Zealand gave an example of how the products were used in the health sector.

"The Loddon Mallee Health Alliance in central Victoria is connecting city based medical specialists with trauma patients in rural areas using high-definition visual communications technology from Polycom," he said.

Parliamentary Secretary Pulford said Polycom was positioning itself in "regional e-learning and e-health telepresence initiatives for a high speed National Broadband Network".


Turnbull says $65 a month will keep most off broadband

Clancy Yeates

October 5, 2010

The ''extraordinary'' cost of accessing the national broadband network will limit the number of people who choose to use it, the opposition spokesman on communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has warned.

Mr Turnbull, who has yet to finalise the opposition's policy on broadband, signalled the Coalition was unlikely to make any dramatic change to its approach to rural broadband in response to the federal election result. Yesterday he challenged the government's central argument that the broadband network would benefit consumers and competition.

The government-owned NBN Co is likely to charge retailers about $35 a month. He predicted this would result in customers paying an average of $65 to $70 a month.

''That is higher than most people are paying now. So there is no reason to believe that the NBN will deliver cheaper broadband. It certainly will deliver faster broadband than many people are getting at the moment, but at an extraordinary cost,'' he said.


Tasmanians to be forced to connect to NBN under new laws

Ben Grubb

October 7, 2010 - 9:18AM

Tasmanians will be forced into connecting to the national broadband network (NBN) unless they "opt-out" of being connected under new laws being proposed by its Premier.

It's unclear whether the plan will be extended nationally, but federal communications minister Stephen Conroy said in July that he supported the idea and that it was "the right way to go".

In June, Mr Conroy said that only 45 per cent of homes in the first three Tasmanian suburbs to be connected had signed a consent form opting into connecting to the NBN. Even so, it was unclear how many would in turn sign up to an internet provider.

"The government welcomes this initiative by the Tasmanian government," Mr Conroy's spokesperson said in a statement to this website. "It will enable faster and more efficient roll-out of the network and minimise inconvenience to landowners, who will not have to confirm in writing that they want to be connected.


NBN switches to 'opt-out' model to boost take-up

  • Matthew Denholm and Mitchell Bingemann
  • From: The Australian
  • October 07, 2010 12:00AM

TASMANIAN homes and businesses will automatically be connected to the National Broadband Network unless they actively refuse.

The shift from an opt-in system for the NBN in Tasmania to an opt-out model, which could be adopted nationally, was announced by Premier David Bartlett late yesterday.

The move to shore up the viability of Australia's first fibre-optic cable rollout follows official estimates that only 16 to 25 per cent of premises passed by the rollout would take up subscriptions to access the high-speed internet it offers.

Industry experts suggest a take-up of 80 to 90 per cent is necessary if the NBN is to become a focus of service and information delivery.

The shift to an opt-out model came as some of Australia's leading businessmen called for the federal government's $43 billion NBN project to be subjected to a thorough business case.


Chairmen table concerns over NBN analysis

SOME of the nation's most influential chairmen are urging the government to obtain a cost-benefit analysis into the National Broadband Network.

"You'd be crazy if you didn't assume that we could increase productivity via faster access to the internet. However, I think the lack of a business case and full publicity of that business case is throwing a lot of doubt in people's minds about the level of expenditure," ANZ chairman John Morschel said. "Whether the right thing to do is to cable everyone's house or use alternative technologies as most people do at the moment, we're yet to see."

Mr Morschel's comments were made at The Australian and Deutsche Bank Business Leaders Forum where other high-profile captains of industry, including NAB and Woodside chairman Michael Chaney and Boral and Wesfarmers chairman Bob Every, voiced similar concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the contentious NBN project.


Legal changes needed to ensure NBN connections go ahead

Lucy Battersby

October 8, 2010

MORE state governments will have to change trespass or property laws to ensure households are not left without fixed-telephone connections, following the Tasmanian government's move to introduce legislation for property owners to opt out of the government's fibre network.

''All state governments are now turning their minds to the practical issues that will go along with migration and the roll-out of the network,'' said the chief executive of Communications Alliance, John Stanton.

''In the future, when copper networks have been decommissioned, consumers will have a choice of [retail service providers] to connect to the NBN, and in many cases they will also have the choice to opt for a wireless-based service that is independent of the NBN.''


States baulk at opt-out on NBN link

  • Mitchell Bingemann and Lauren Wilson
  • From: The Australian
  • October 08, 2010 12:00AM

NSW and Victoria have ruled out following Tasmania's lead and legislating for all homes to be connected to the National Broadband Network.

The states' reluctance to legislate, coupled with take-up rates mirroring Tasmania's sluggish appetite to connect to the broadband network, could result in the federal government conducting a review into the NBN's roll-out schedule.

Failure to achieve good take-up rates in the test phases of the NBN -- which include the Tasmanian roll-out and 19 sites on the mainland -- would trigger a review to correct the connection deficiencies and pare back the NBN's mandate to connect 93 per cent of the nation to the fibre network, according to the government's $25 million implementation study into the viability of the NBN.

"If the results of the first phase of roll-out suggest the . . . coverage target will not be reached, government should use its performance management mechanisms to correct the course of the roll-out and/or revise its target," the study recommends.




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