Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 07 February, 2011.

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:

There has been essentially no progress that anyone can detect in the National E-Health scene. We still have no HI Service Implementation Plans and no public release of how the PCEHR is to actually work.

On the broader front, with the Coalition now running Victoria and WA and about to take over in NSW both the Financial Review and The Australian are reporting we are about to see some major changes in the National Health Reform Proposals:

See here for example:

Julia Gillard to junk Kevin Rudd health reform

  • EXCLUSIVE Sean Parnell and Dennis Shanahan
  • From: The Australian
  • February 05, 2011 12:00AM

JULIA Gillard is preparing to dump Kevin Rudd's plan to make the commonwealth the dominant funder of hospitals, favouring an alternative model so unpopular among states that any hope of reaching a national health reform agreement appears lost.

After 12 months of wrangling with the states and the signing of a historic health funding agreement in Canberra last year, the federal government is developing a new model to deliver its funding directly to hospitals, and without the states receiving promised funds for expenditure growth and capital works.

In an attempt to finalise the new health funding agreement before the meeting of state and federal leaders in Canberra on February 14, the federal government has put forward a tough new proposal from Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

----- End Extract.

We are also seeing some concern about the so called ‘Medicare Locals’ which I wrote about last year:

According to the AMA they have gone rather off the rails, with clinician roles being downgraded in Hospitals etc.

Lead Clinician Groups discussion paper an insult to clinicians

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the Government’s proposed Lead Clinician Groups are doomed to fail if arrangements set out in a recently-circulated discussion paper are to proceed.

Dr Pesce said the fact that the discussion paper - Lead Clinicians Groups: enhancing clinical engagement in Australia’s health system - was circulated to stakeholder groups after business hours on the eve of Australia Day suggests there is some nervousness within the Government and the bureaucracy about the proposed arrangements.

“The discussion paper is an insult to clinicians. It proposes that doctors’ input to decision making would be limited to clinical practice issues, not overall hospital and health service management,” Dr Pesce said.

“This is contrary to the intended clinician role announced by former Prime Minister Rudd in a speech to the AMA National Conference in May last year.

“Mr Rudd said that Lead Clinician Groups would also guide Local Hospital Networks in ‘service planning and the most efficient allocation of clinical services …’ and ‘developing innovative solutions that best address the needs of local communities’.

“The paper sets out ways to suppress and limit clinician engagement in decision making, not enhance it – it is a plan for lead clinicians not to lead.

“It appears that all the advice from the AMA and other medical groups has been completely ignored.

----- See more at the link above:

The AMA is also not happy about the Medicare Locals consultation process. See here:

So we seem to have all sorts of forces wondering if what Mr Rudd planned is still appropriate and if there are other ways forward. It looks to me that the COAG Meeting, on February 14 I believe, might be pretty important in working out what will happen! There are some pretty concerned major stakeholders out there.


An app a day to keep bad health away

by Suzannah Lyons

Could the path to a healthier, more active you be as close as your mobile phone?

Want to record how many steps you take, keep track of your blood glucose levels, or know when you need sun protection?

Then look no further than your mobile phone.

Our love of ever more sophisticated smartphones has the potential to turn what used to be 'just a phone' into an essential tool for good health, as a growing number of us use our mobiles to access specialised health and fitness apps (short for applications).

And research suggests how we currently use our phones as health tools is only the beginning.

A report released last November found there were 17,000 mobile phone health apps available for both consumers and healthcare providers in major app stores.

The report's authors, market research firm research2guidance, also predicted that 500 million people globally, out of a total of 1.4 billion smartphone users, will be using health apps by 2015.


Connectivity remains key to telehealth success

Broadband, technical support shortages likely to hamper telehealth, say industry stakeholders

The Federal Government must focus on providing suitable broadband connectivity and technical capability to general practitioners and other healthcare providers in order to ensure the success of telehealth services in rural Australia, health professionals have warned.

The scheme, first announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during the 2010 federal election, offers $402.2 million in government funding over four years to provide Medicare rebates for some 495,000 online consultations to patients in rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas. The funding will also provide financial incentives and training to health professionals to encourage take-up of the scheme, and $50 million in funding to provide online triage and basic medical advice through videoconferencing.

In a discussion paper released in November last year, the Department of Health and Ageing identified financial incentives and procurement models as some of the obstacles to be addressed ahead of implementation.


GP Health Summaries - Clear Guidelines Needed To Ensure Consistency, Australia

04 Feb 2011

A need to clearly define the key elements of the GP health summary and its application in an electronic health record has prompted the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to develop a set of seven factsheets to provide advice to general practice and their teams.

The 4th edition of the RACGP Standards for general practices requires that practices can demonstrate that at least 75 percent of their active patient health records contain a current health summary (criterion 1.7.2). To meet the requirements for a satisfactory summary, elements such as allergies and adverse reactions, current medicines list, current health problems, relevant past health history, health risk factors, immunisation, relevant family history and relevant social history need to be included. But what does 'current' or 'relevant' mean?

RACGP e-health spokesperson Dr Chris Mitchell said that there is a need to clearly define the core elements of the GP health summary as health information available through an accurate and current health summary will ensure safe and high quality care for patients.


ACT Health loses CIO, looks for new one

By Suzanne Tindal, on January 31st, 2011

in brief Australian Capital Territory Health has put out feelers for a new chief information officer to head up the organisation's information services branch.

The position has previously been held by Owen Smalley, who has now resigned, according to the Office of the Deputy Chief Executive.


ACT Health looks into tablets

By Marina Freri, on February 1st, 2011

ACT Health this week revealed it was investigating the potential use of tablet devices in Canberra Hospital, an initiative that will involve examining Apple's hyped iPad device and other platforms.

Although denying any official trials of the iPad, acting chief information officer Judy Redmond said the department had just initiated a project to examine the functionality of tablet devices both for clinical and administrative use.

She said the iPad was just one of the options available and that ACT Health would be investigating and trialling a number of different tablet devices. Redmond said introducing tablets in an enterprise environment was a challenging practice that involved managing security and updates, workflow changes and the cost of data usage.


E-health evaluation plan: Govt priorities questioned

1st Feb 2011

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

After ongoing criticism of its slow progress on the rollout of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), the Federal Government has now come under fire for “jumping the gun” with a tender process to find an independent evaluator for the project.

The criticism is the latest blow to the $467 million project, with Medicare recently forced to revise Individual Healthcare Identifier contracts with medical software providers after they were deemed unworkable.

Despite Health Department claims that an evaluation framework was crucial during the program’s development, Health IT consultant Dr David More questioned the logic behind commencing an assessment when the PCEHR remained far from completion.


Patients get ’appy over iPhone apps


By Michael East

TWO iPhone applications have been launched to help patients find GPs in their area or when they are on the move.

Last week, the WA Government launched a new iPhone application to help patients find after-hours general practices in the state.

The application allows users to find their nearest after-hours practice and contains opening hours and contact details.

Once patients find their nearest after-hours practice, they can save the practice details into their phone contacts.


Tablets a 'double edged sword': Mater Health Services CIO

Desktop virtualisation of 3500 PCs also underway

While some Australian hospitals have embraced tablet PCs, one major health services provider is holding off deployment until improvements are made in the form factor.

According to Brisbane-based Mater Health Services' CIO, Malcolm Thatcher, weight and battery life issues with tablet PCs, such as the Apple iPad, are a major drawback. The CIO also cites voice recognition as a much needed addition, among others.

“We have trialled some various form factors including tablets and mobile devices such as smartphones," Thatcher told Computerworld Australia.


NEHTA scores $38.5m for e-health record rollout

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • February 02, 2011 5:49PM

THE federal Health department has released $38.5 million to the National E-Health Transition Authority for the next stage of the $467m personally-controlled e-health record rollout.

Under the six-month contract to June 30, NEHTA will provide management support services as private-sector partners are hired for four key roles: a national infrastructure partner; a change and adoption partner; a benefits realisation partner and an external assurance adviser.

Bidders are currently being sought for the benefits realisation partner, whose brief is to monitor and measure progress through an analytical and evaluation framework. The tender deadline has been extended a week to February 18, after potential candidates called for more information on the PCEHR program. Bidders seek details.


NEHTA given $38.5m in e-health funding

By Josh Taylor, on February 3rd, 2011

in brief The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has been handed $38.5 million in funding for e-health records from the Federal Government as part of the Gillard Government's $466.7 million investment in e-health.

The funding was first revealed by The Australian today and has been allocated to NEHTA by the Department of Health and Ageing as part of the government's two-year investment in e-health.


Decrease in Medication Errors at Dunedin Hospital after iSOFT Medication Management Implementation

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - iSOFT Group

Three months after implementation of the iSOFT Medication Management solution (formerly known as MedChart), Dunedin Hospital of Otago on New Zealand’s South Island has seen a reduction in medication error and an increase in staff efficiency. In two wards, incorrect or missing information was reduced from 82% down to zero.

Staff support for the electronic prescribing system has been strong, with one charge nurse reported as saying there “would be a riot” if the wards reverted to the old system.

The results at the Dunedin hospital, which introduced the electronic medication chart system on 14 October 2010, are in line with a study presented at the 2010 Health Informatics Conference by Professor Johanna Westbrook, Director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, University of New South Wales, in August of last year.


Patient privacy is just one problem for the NHS IT plan

Our report today about criticism of the privacy standards of the Secondary Uses Service (SUS) - the NHS' new system for sharing medical records with researchers - is the latest of many controversies to hit the National Programme for IT.

The massive project, conceived under Labour as the world's largest public sector IT project, is already years behind schedule.

Medical staff have been among the strongest critics of NHS IT plans

Several major suppliers have dropped out, one of the principal software designers, iSoft, nearly went bust, and many doctors and nurses remain to be conviced the National Programme for IT will deliver clinical benefits in return fot the massive outlay by taxpayers. Despite cuts by Labour and the coalition - which also dropped its name - it is set to cost more than £11bn.


Staff chaos hits hospitals

Julia Medew

February 2, 2011

THOUSANDS of Victorian health professionals are either unable to work or are doing so illegally this week after missing a registration deadline set by Australia's new trouble-plagued health practitioner regulation agency.

An update provided by the organisation yesterday said that 5029 Victorian nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, podiatrists and psychologists had not renewed their registration to practise with the national body by Monday's deadline.

Some hospitals, including the Royal Melbourne and Monash Medical Centre, yesterday said they were changing their rosters because of unregistered nurses who couldn't work.


Roxon steps in over health register bungles

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon has been forced to intervene to ensure the patients of up to 10,000 physiotherapists, health workers and doctors can claim Medicare rebates after bureaucratic bungling left the professionals unable to practise.

However, the patients of the health workers and doctors may still be unable to claim private health insurance rebates and they could be left without medical indemnity coverage because of teething problems with a new national medical registration system.

The health workers failed to gain medical registration under a scheme introduced in July as the under-resourced Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency struggled with the task of registering 290,000 practitioners.

Some of them continued to work because they were unaware their registration had lapsed.


Govt should subsidise prescribing resources

MEDICAL leaders want electronic prescribing resources for doctors to be subsidised and regularly updated as the federal government puts more emphasis on e-health initiatives.

Professor Jon Emery, professor of general practice and head of the school of primary, Aboriginal and rural health care at the University of Western Australia, said quality use of medicines was an important issue and the federal government should look at ways to make the Australian medicines handbook (AMH) freely, or at very least more cheaply, available to all GPs.

The AMH currently costs $160 for an annual online subscription.


Guild gets free access to eMIMS for interns

Interns taking part in the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s clinical training program will get free access to MIMS Australia.

The deal between the Guild and MIMS means pharmacy interns who choose the Guild as their training provider will be able to use the eMIMS program, which has been available to pharmacy students and interns on the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) program.

David Bryant, a Guild spokesperson, welcomed the agreement, describing MIMS as a vital text for those coming out of university courses.


Digital magnetic resonance scanner will aid researchers

RADIOLOGISTS are hoping the first fully digital broadband magnetic resonance imaging system will soon find a home in Australia.

Philips unveiled its Ingenia MR unit at the Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago late last year, but the product is undergoing regulatory approval processes and is not yet available in the US.

Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association president Ron Shnier said the technology offered enormous potential for new forms of medical research, based on high-quality data obtained from clinical use.


Enrico Coiera affirms ehealth support

It was the late 1980s and one of the hottest topics in health informatics was artificial intelligence.

One day soon, the thinking went, a clinician would enter a patient’s conditions into a computer and a diagnosis would spit out the other end. As a recent medical graduate, AI was a field that inspired Enrico Coiera. So he started a PhD in artificial intelligence and computer science at the University of New South Wales.

“Back in those days expert systems were hot,” laughs Professor Coiera. “I went from doing my PhD and moved to the UK for ten years, where I was a senior scientist at HP Research, in Bristol.”

When 1999 rolled around Prof. Coiera decided that the time was right to move back to Australia. He was appointed foundation professor of health informatics at UNSW and, along with colleague Branko Celler, now at the University of Western Sydney, co-founded the Centre for Health Informatics.


900m Internet Explorer users vulnerable to data-stealing hack

Asher Moses

February 1, 2011 - 10:29AM

Microsoft has warned that the 900 million users of its Internet Explorer browser are at risk of having their computers hijacked and their personal information stolen by hackers.

The company has yet to develop a permanent fix for the security hole but users are being told to apply a temporary fix that prevents hackers from exploiting a hole to install malicious scripts. Users could be targeted simply by visiting an infected website.

In a security bulletin, Microsoft said the flaw affected all versions of Windows and although it had yet to encounter "indications of active exploitation of the vulnerability", the flaw was serious and it was aware of proof-of-concept code exploiting the issue.


No ad hoc biometrics sharing: privacy chief

By Suzanne Tindal and Colin Ho, on February 3rd, 2011

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has warned pubs and clubs collecting biometric information from their patrons not to "automatically" share that information with other clubs unless they have notified their patrons.

This week the news emerged that the collection of personal information such as biometrics and driver licence details by pubs and clubs has soared. Clubs and pubs use the information to reduce the risk of violence by pinpointing offenders and banning them from venues.

"The office is aware of the use of this technology by some organisations. Any pubs and clubs using this technology should be aware that under the Privacy Act, organisations must provide individuals with notice of what will happen to the collected information," Pilgrim said.


Open source 'ready for the enterprise': Ovum

ESR to provide greater options for IT managers

Open source software has been found to be functionally sufficient across most organsations and its advancement enables IT managers to choose from a variety of options, according to Ovum.

A new report, Enterprise Search and Retrieval: Exploiting all of the organisation’s information assets, by Ovum analyst, Mike Davis, found that the development of open source software has provided IT managers with more options.

“Free-to-use open source enterprise search and retrieval (ESR) solutions are now ready for the enterprise,” he said in a statement.


NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets

February 3, 2011

An orbiting NASA telescope is finding whole new worlds of possibilities in the search for alien life, spotting more than 50 potential planets that appear to be in the habitable zone.

In just a year of peering out at a small slice of the galaxy, the Kepler telescope has discovered 1235 possible planets outside our solar system. Amazingly, 54 of them are seemingly in the zone that could be hospitable to life — that is, not too hot or too cold, Kepler chief scientist William Borucki said.

Until now, only two planets outside our solar system were even thought to be in the "Goldilocks zone". And both those discoveries are highly disputed.




No comments: