Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 31 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 biggest news this week was probably the announcement of a NEW e-Health Summit.

You can read about this planned event here:

Those with a historical bent might want to read about the e-Health Summit we had just over a decade ago:

Proceedings from the National Health Online Summit

Adelaide 3 - 4 August 2000$File/sumtproc.pdf

Reading this you will be amazed how much broader and better planned this event a decade ago appears to have been, but sadly how much of it was actually implemented.

It is also interesting to see how many of the people who were there are still plugging away to get real progress.


Telemedicine and e-Health

The Feasibility of a Community-Based Mobile Telehealth Screening Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in Australia

To cite this article:

Galen Elliott, Anthony C. Smith, Mark E. Bensink, Cecil Brown, Christine Stewart, Chris Perry, Paul Scuffham. Telemedicine and e-Health. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/tmj.2010.0045.


Objective: The increasing prevalence and earlier onset of chronic health conditions amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has become a concerning and significant problem. Telehealth may be a useful application for the early detection, monitoring, and treatment of chronic diseases such as ear disease and vision impairment. This study evaluates whether it is feasible to integrate a mobile telemedicine-enabled ear and eye–screening service with existing community-based services for Australian indigenous children. Materials and Methods: A collaborative service was established with the local community and delivered from a van fitted with screening equipment and telemedicine capabilities. Indigenous children (0–16 years) were assessed at school by an aboriginal health worker for conditions impacting hearing and vision. Screening data and video-otoscopic images were uploaded to a database and made accessible to specialists via a secure Web site. Those children who failed an ear-screening assessment, tele-otology clinics were conducted remotely by an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who reviewed cases and provided a diagnosis and treatment plan. Similarly, children who failed vision assessments were referred to an optometrist for follow-up care. Results: During the first 6 months, the service visited 12 of the 16 schools in the region, screening 442 of the 760 consented children (58%). Of the 183 (41%) children who failed ear screening, 59 were reviewed remotely by an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, with 9 children booked for surgery. Three hundred and four or 41% of the consenting children completed an eye assessment, in which 46 (15%) failed and required referral to the optometrist. Conclusions: It is feasible to integrate a mobile telehealth screening service with existing community-based services to provide specialist review and treatment planning at a distance. Community consultation, engagement, and collaboration in all areas of the project have been important.


MyHospitals on a waiting list: private sector keen to launch its own initiative

  • Adam Creswell, Health editor
  • From: The Australian
  • October 30, 2010 12:00AM

A BRAVE new world of public hospital transparency seemed to be on the horizon following the election of the Rudd government in 2007.

A perception that was encouraged by Labor's most senior figures.

Truculent states would have their heads knocked together, seemed to be the message; and they were required for the first time to divulge information that would allow an unprecedented level of scrutiny of public hospital performance.

In exchange for getting their hands on hundreds of millions of dollars in extra cash to tackle soaring waiting lists, public hospitals would have to level with the public about how they were performing across a range of measures.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon warmed to this theme, telling a Consumers Health Forum event in October 2008 that the Rudd government had a "big focus on improving accountability and transparency", and work on performance indicators for public hospitals was "well advanced".


It’s never too late


COMPUTERS: After 50 years in practice, a solo GP embraces electronic records. By Noel Stewart

WHILE in the past I have bemoaned GPs who say they don’t have the time to maintain accurate electronic clinical records and keep up with data cleansing, many GPs must be commended for making a big effort to move from paper to electronic record keeping.

It can be a difficult task for GPs who trained and started general practice well before computerisation. In this respect, I have to admire the efforts of Dr Selvanayagam Selvendra, a solo practitioner working in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Dr Selvendra has just celebrated 50 years working as a medical practitioner.


Health Minister Nicola Roxon gathers e-health input

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • October 28, 2010 1:16PM

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has called a snap two-day e-health summit next month at the Melbourne Convention Centre, saying it will be "an important opportunity" for doctors, consumers and IT specialists to discuss the government's $467 million implementation plan.

Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy and Ms Roxon will speak at the conference, to be held on November 30 and December 1.

It is understood E-Health: Revolutionising Australia's Healthcare is being organised by the Health Department, but no other program details are available to date.

Ms Roxon said the Gillard government was investing almost $470m to introduce e-health across the system -- including the introduction of personally controlled e-health records from July 2012 -- on top of $392m committed during the election campaign to Medicare rebates for online consultations.


Medibank pays $100m plus for McKesson arm

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • October 27, 2010 4:27PM

MEDIBANK Private paid $US109 million for the phone and web-based call centre leader McKesson Asia-Pacific earlier this year, according to financial statements released by the US health giant McKesson Corp today.

The government-owned health insurance firm acquired McKesson’s local business for an undisclosed sum in April, and vowed to retain all employees.

McKesson provided 24-hour telephone nursing triage services, HealthDirect Australia, on behalf of federal and state governments through the jointly owned National Health Call Centre Network, among a range of public and private sector contracts for remote advice services.

It had also managed Medibank's Better Health customer phone service for around five years.


QH payroll may take three years to fix

  • From: AAP
  • October 29, 2010 12:00AM

QUEENSLAND'S opposition says it may take three years to fix the state's health payroll problems.

A new payroll system introduced in March has meant thousands of Queensland Health (QH) staff have been underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all in fortnightly wages.

The government is looking at an independent report by Ernst and Young on correcting the payroll system, which it will release along with a government response in November.

Opposition Health spokesman Mark McArdle told parliament on Thursday QH had briefed staff and unions on the contents of the Ernst and Young report.


Hospitals scrambling to find $100m in savings

Julia Medew

October 27, 2010

VICTORIAN hospitals may have to cut health services or charge more for car parking and food services after the state government ordered them to collectively save more than $100 million this year.

Chief executive of the Victorian Healthcare Association Trevor Carr said a recent survey of five senior executives working for hospitals across the state found they were being ordered to save 2.1 to 2.9 per cent of their acute health budgets this financial year.

He said the survey of small and large hospitals in both rural and metropolitan areas was representative of those across the state, meaning the government was clawing back $135 million to $185 million from its budget allocations for the hospitals.

The ''productivity cuts'' mean hospitals have to either cut spending on services internally such as staff wages and equipment costs, Mr Carr said, or they have to make additional revenue from things like car parking or the commercialisation of food services to make up for the loss. ''This is not small bikkies we're talking about here. It's equivalent to 100 per cent of the budget for drug services, for example, or 80 per cent of the entire dental health budget,'' he said.

One senior hospital source, who did not want to be named, said the cuts were particularly difficult to accommodate as hospitals battle ongoing costs from the implementation of the government's health technology system, HealthSmart, which is running late and over budget.


Innovative Swedish supplier wins first major NHS IT contract

Cambio Healthcare Systems beats 25 rivals to win an important deal outside the NPfIT

IT market researcher Techmarketview reports that Swedish healthcare application specialist Cambio Healthcare Systems has won its first major contract with the NHS. The contract is outside the National Programme for IT, NPfIT.

“The deal with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust whittles CSC and iSoft’s potential National Programme business down a little further,” says Tola Sargeant of Techmarketview.

The Trust says it chose Cambio, in part, because it’s an innovative company whose IT is good for integration.

Originally the Trust had planned to buy an interim hospital information system while waiting for iSoft's Lorenzo from the NPfIT.Now it says it cannot wait for Lorenzo. It will use Cambio’s Cosmic platform to integrate its existing patient administration system with A&E and e-prescribing functionality across four sites and more than 3000 users.


Morecambe: Lorenzo software 'not ready'

28 Oct 2010

The clinical lead for health informatics at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has said Lorenzo was not ready for release when it went live at the trust in June.

In a panel discussion at a London conference on Tuesday, Sydney Schneidman criticised the iSoft electronic patient record software, which is being implemented at Morecambe by CSC under the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

He said it was unready and unstable. “It’s getting there, but the software that we got was really not ready for release and it was really unstable,” he told the International Conference on the Implementation of Electronic Health Records in London.

“As far as getting clinical benefit from this [goes]; you can’t put additional clinical modules on top of an unstable patient administration system and that’s unfortunately what we are dealing with.”


Macclesfield robot links to iSoft system

26 Oct 2010

Macclesfield District Hospital has implemented a bi-directional interface from iSoft to allow its robotic dispensing system to automatically update its pharmacy system when medicines are loaded or dispensed.

The hospital, which is part of East Cheshire NHS Trust, went live with the system last week.

It hopes the move will reduce dispensing errors and increase efficiency through better stock control. It also hopes it will free-up the department’s 60 staff so they can focus on patient care.


Northampton live with Medway Maternity

29 Oct 2010

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust has successfully deployed Medway Maternity at its main hospital site and will now roll it out throughout the community of Northamptonshire.

Northampton is implementing Medway in two phases. The first phase involved going live in the labour, delivery and postnatal suites.

The software went live with 320 staff just 6 months after the contract was awarded. The trust expects to use the software to help manage some 4,600 births a year. In its first eight hours of use the software handled nine deliveries, including a set of twins.

Phase one includes a full interface to the trust’s iSoft iPM patient administration system for demographics and admissions, discharges and transfers, as well as an interface to existing McKesson Child Health system.


Standards Australia issues RFP for the development of technical specifications to underpin the electronic transfer of prescriptions in Australia

22 October 2010. Standards Australia is seeking proposals from suitably qualified individuals and/or organisations (Respondents) to assist in the development of six draft Australian Technical Specifications (ATSs) to underpin the electronic transfer of prescription and dispensed medication information processes in Australia.

The primary outcome to be achieved is to set in place the minimum information and technical standards to help ensure consumers retain the right to have medications supplied by the pharmacy of their choice where prescriptions are managed electronically, and to help ensure interoperability between service providers.


Independents open to scrutiny of NBN

  • Samantha Maiden and James Massola
  • From: The Australian
  • October 27, 2010 12:00AM

INDEPENDENT MPs have backed Malcolm Turnbull's call for greater transparency on the National Broadband Network.

This has raised the prospect that Labor could be forced to refer the project to the Productivity Commission.

Independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie, as well as crossbencher Tony Crook and the Greens, yesterday left the door open to supporting Mr Turnbull's push to have the $43 billion project subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.

The development came as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last night told SBS TV's Insight that the cost of the first stage of the rollout of the NBN to service 500 homes in three Tasmanian towns, which currently have internet connections, was $37 million.

However as the test sites had included connecting fibre to thousands of homes and building the backbone that connects the towns, the costs could not be extrapolated Australia-wide.


Turnbull plan to short-circuit NBN

Clancy Yeates and Peter Martin

October 27, 2010

THE Coalition has adopted a high-speed internet policy that would render redundant the proposed National Broadband Network.

The policy accepted by the joint parties meeting would separate Telstra into two companies - a retailer free of onerous regulation and a wholesaler, possibly named CANCo, enjoying regulated pricing required by law to provide all Australians with broadband at a minimum speed of 12 megabits per second (Mbps).

Fast enough to allow video conferencing and the download of movies within minutes, 12 Mbps is faster than most Australians enjoy at present but slow enough to usually be achievable using existing infrastructure such as Telstra's copper network and Foxtel coaxial cables and satellite and wireless technology.


Turnbull gives ground on network

Peter Martin

October 25, 2010

BIPARTISAN support for the $43 billion national broadband network is in sight after the Coalition declared it would find a tick of approval from the Productivity Commission ''incredibly persuasive''.

Until now Coalition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has sought a cost-benefit analysis of the project but has declined to say whether even such an inquiry would make the opposition support it.

But speaking on Network Ten yesterday, he said the inquiry he was proposing might do the trick. ''I would not as a matter of principle give a blank cheque to anyone, even the Productivity Commission,'' he said.

"But if the Productivity Commission were to report on the NBN as they should, and if they were to give it a big tick from a cost-benefit point of view, it would be incredibly persuasive; I think it would obviously change a lot of people's perceptions.''


Why delay in Windows 8 release is great news

News leaked that Windows 8 is projected for some time in 2012, but the majority of the headlines out there have it backwards.

Tony Bradley (PC World) 26/10/2010 10:16:00

News leaked that Windows 8 is projected for some time in 2012, but the majority of the headlines out there have it backwards. It is being framed as some sort of unexpected revelation that the next OS will arrive so soon, but the fact is that the OS should be released in late 2011 and that this is a delay -- albeit a very, very welcome delay.

The standard development lifecycle for Microsoft these days is two years, which would place the release of the next Windows operating system around the end of 2011. A post in January of this year from a Microsoft employee leaked an even more ambitious goal -- projecting a July 2011 release.


4 reasons to give Linux Mint 10 a try

Based on Ubuntu 10.10, the next Mint version may just represent the cutting edge in usability.

Canonical's newly released Ubuntu 10.10 -- or "Maverick Meerkat" -- may still be dominating the headlines in the Linux world these days, but it's by no means the only excellent distribution of the open source operating system. Following just behind Ubuntu on DistroWatch's list of popularity, in fact, is not just Fedora, at No. 2, but also -- of particular interest this week -- Linux Mint.

In addition to being the third most popular Linux distribution out there, Mint is of considerable interest right now because the release candidate (RC) version of Linux Mint 10 was just released. That means the next stable release is just around the corner. Also known as "Julia," the new version is based on Ubuntu 10.10 and offers a correspondingly improved level of user friendliness.




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