Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 14 March, 2011.

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:

It has been an interesting week with the State Health IT implementations in NSW and Victoria being challenged in terms of the approaches adopted.

It will be interesting to see just what flows from the two reviews that are going to be undertaken over the next few months.

Sadly we still seem to waiting for any transparency on the part of DoHA or NEHTA as to just what precisely they are planning with the PCEHR. This is really an intolerable situation as the current poll - which closes tomorrow - so vote if possible soon - would strongly indicate!

Lastly, I have to report I have switched to Firefox V4 Release Candidate One and am pretty impressed. The browser really flies and seem pretty stable after 2 days of use.

Grab from here if you want to try it.


Data Quality must deliver for the e-health revolution


“Data standards are fundamental for any data collection environment with multiple data providers and data collectors.” - Heather Richards, Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)The move towards activity-based funding as part of national health reform in Australia will put a spotlight on data quality, as hospitals receive funding based on the number and type of cases they treat. A similar regime is also on the horizon in Canada, where the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is charged with ensuring the quality of health care data. We asked CIHI Consultant Heather Richards, to highlight the data quality issues to be faced.


Thousands dying from preventable hospital errors, says professor

Julia Medew

March 8, 2011

THOUSANDS of people are likely to be dying every year as a result of preventable hospital errors, a health economist says.

Doctors and academics yesterday called for more funding of hospital programs to examine adverse events (unintended injuries from medical care) after The Age revealed inadequacies in the voluntary reporting system for such incidents at the Royal Children's Hospital.

The professor of health economics at Monash University, Jeff Richardson, said that if the last major Australian study to estimate the number of deaths due to preventable adverse events was right, 350 patients were dying every two weeks because of the problem.

Professor Richardson said it was astonishing that so little had been done since The Quality in Australian Health Care Study in 1995 estimated about 12,000 Australians were dying each year because of preventable events.


Painful but necessary transition for Austin Health

VICTORIA's Austin Health had a range of ageing computer systems but information access was proving painful.

It sought a means of easily obtaining information from its systems and presenting it to a range of clinical and management staff to drive decision-making.

"We were really trying to get much greater visibility of our data and more consistency in the way it was presented," Austin Health strategy, quality and service redesign executive director Fiona Webster said.

Austin Health had also seen in-patient treatments grow by 10 per cent in the past three years, putting pressure on it to increase efficiency to cope with the demand.

Managing the rapidly increasing amounts of complex data sets, including patient and operational data, created a serious challenge.


NSW to follow South Australia on Project STOP

Victoria could be the last mainland state to adopt Project STOP, after NSW Coalition health spokesperson Jillian Skinner pledged to mandate the pseudoephedrine sales recording system if elected.

Speaking to Pharmacy News, Kos Sclavos president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said Ms Skinner wanted to ensure all NSW pharmacists were using the system to prevent drug runners accessing pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine.

While the Tasmanian Government has also yet to mandate Project STOP, Mr Sclavos warned there would be increased pressure put on Victorian pharmacists, if NSW follows the lead of South Australia, where mandatory online recording of all pseudoephedrine sales will be required from 1 July.


Libs prepare to lance e-health boils

Julian Bajkowski

  • The NSW opposition has joined Victoria in pledging to block a new clinical records system.
  • It represents a setback for the introduction of a national scheme.

Australia’s two largest electronic clinical records systems could be scrapped by the end of the financial year amid signs that bipartisan support for a national e-health deployment is starting to unravel.

The NSW opposition yesterday promised that, if elected, it would halt the forced deployment of the maligned FirstNet system into the emergency departments of state hospitals after senior doctors labelled it a risk to patients.

The promise is bad news for the US-based Cerner Corporation, whose software is being used to create the controversial systems in NSW.


Sharpening delivery of healthcare online

MEDIBANK Health Solutions chief information officer Brett Winn aims to put his passion for technology to good use.

In a 20-year career, he has spent a decade mainly in Asia-Pacific tech chief positions in advertising, media and recruitment before moving to healthcare.

Mr Winn joined web-based health services provider McKesson Asia Pacific as chief information officer before it was acquired by private health insurer Medibank Private.

For the past eight months he has been IT executive general manager for Medibank Health Solutions.

"If you really want to add value to community healthcare, and particularly the healthcare services we provide, this is where you want to be," Mr Winn said.


E-health advocacy groups decries government secrecy

Consumer consultation workshops no resolution for continued vagueness

An e-health consumer advocacy group has joined a growing choir of those dissatisfied with the lack of communication from lead agencies surrounding implementation of the Federal Government's $467 million personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) project initiative.

The group, known as the Consumer Centred eHealth Coalition (CCeHC) and formed in 2009, claims to represent e-health consumers in issues of privacy, security and confidentiality related to the e-health project. It counts the Australian Privacy Foundation, the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Civil Liberties Australia and the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties among its members.

The coalition has remained quiet on the issue over the past year, but in a recent post on its website, the group voiced concerns over three community consultation workshops held by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and e-health managing agency National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), arguing the sessions failed to provide enough detail around the project.


NEHTA, DoHA deaf to consumers, claim critics

A new e-health lobbying organisation has voiced its frustration at the National e-Health Transition Authority and Department of Health and Ageing for not communicating with consumers well enough.

The Consumer Centred eHealth Coalition (CCeHC) is a group of non-government organisations which maintain an interest in privacy, security and confidentiality issues in the rollout of the Federal Government’s new Australian eHealth system. Its members include the Australian Privacy Foundation, the Council of Social Service of NSW, the UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Civil Liberties Australia and the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties.

Late last week, the CCeHC wrote on its site that despite NEHTA and DOHA holding three workshops to gauge consumer views on the issue, there had not been enough transparency and scrutiny on its $467 million e-Health investment – which will provide the Australian health system with a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

“We are growing frustrated with the NEHTA/DoHA-led consultations process and skeptical about any useful outcomes incorporating consumer feedback,” the group wrote. “We ask for evidence the feedback has influenced a single aspect of the e-health experiment”. NEHTA and DOHA have been invited to respond to the comments.


Monday, March 07, 2011

NeHTA not a FOIer

When posing the question the other day about what other government related entities, like NBN Co (until amending legislation passes), are outside the scope of the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act, I was unaware of the exchange below during the course of questioning of officers of the Office of Australian Information Commissioner in Senate Estimates. Their evidence is no one has a reliable list of who's covered and who's outside the Commonwealth act. I suspect that a similar situation applies in the states with respect to state legislation.

The confirmation that the National E-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA) is not covered by the FOI act despite the fact that annual reports on the operation of the act have for years past listed it as subject to the act, again raises the question: what other entities are out there carrying out important public functions with large amounts of public money that should be subject to the highest standards of transparency and accountability, but aren't?


Medicare misses out on NASH contract

MEDICARE Australia was beaten on its bid to build the National Authentication Service for Health by its IT services provider, IBM Australia, which last week won a $23.6 million contract for the job.

A Medicare spokesman has confirmed the services delivery agency did tender for the NASH work, but was unsuccessful.

The contract was let by the National E-Health Transition Authority, as part of its $218m Council of Australian Governments-funded program to develop vital e-health infrastructure.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced IBM's win last week, saying the NASH would improve the security of electronic communications across the health sector, and underpin the planned patient e-health record program.


NSW hospitals rate FirstNet last for patient care

Paper is easier and faster.

Directors of seven Sydney hospital emergency departments have damned NSW's $100m clinical information system FirstNet, blaming it for declines in the quality of patient care.

NSW Health's deputy-director general Tim Smyth denied the claims.

"We now have one of Australia's largest electronic medical record systems installed and it is part of a 10-year strategy," Smyth told ABC News.

"With all IT system installations, some people find it more difficult to use because they are used to the old system. That is just part of change in the health system."


NSW Libs to can FirstNet e-health system

FirstNet system has been generating complaints from clinicians ever since the rollout began, NSW Coalition says

The NSW Opposition has committed to canning the State Government’s FirstNet computer system in hospital emergency departments if improvements to the troubled system cannot be made.

According to shadow health minister, Jillian Skinner, the state’s Labor government was ignoring risks to patients caused by the system and as highlighted by medical specialists. "If clinicians are saying this system is putting lives at risk, then we need to halt the roll-out and sit down with frontline health workers and find out how to make it work," Skinner said in a statement.

"The FirstNet system has been generating complaints from clinicians ever since the roll-out began, but Labor has refused to listen to frontline health workers."

Skinner said the NSW government had spent more than $100 million on the FirstNet system designed to improve patient care in emergency departments.


NSW Libs to halt hospital system roll-out

By Luke Hopewell, on March 7th, 2011

The New South Wales Opposition today pledged to halt the roll-out of the troubled FirstNet system currently used in hospital emergency departments statewide.

A review found that the Cerner system suffers from design flaws and botched records management, saying that the issues could lead to a doctor administering the wrong treatment due to mismatched charts.

A specialist doctors' group said yesterday the system ought to be scrapped due to the danger to patients, thoughts echoed by the state opposition this afternoon.


Software adds to wait, say doctors

Julie Robotham HEALTH EDITOR

March 8, 2011

PATIENTS are waiting longer in emergency departments because of design flaws in a computer installation, doctors say.

Preliminary survey results by the Australian Medical Association NSW suggest the system, Cerner FirstNet, had slowed down administration in two-thirds of hospitals, delaying treatment, said the association's president, Michael Steiner.

The Herald revealed yesterday a University of Sydney study had identified failings in the software, including some that put patients at risk of wrong treatment.


ED computer system a risk to patients: experts

7th Mar 2011

Andrew Bracey and AAP

A REVIEW has found the computer system that runs emergency departments in hospitals throughout NSW is crippled by design flaws and is compromising patient care.

The review found the FirstNet system allowed treatment details and test results to be assigned inadvertently to the wrong patient, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The review by Professor Jon Patrick, director of the University of Sydney's Health Information Technologies Research Laboratory, is based on a technical study of the software and interviews with directors of seven Sydney emergency departments.


Queues, computer flaws and broken election promises at state hospitals

  • By staff writers
  • From:
  • March 07, 2011 8:05AM

HOSPITALS around the country are struggling to cope, with patients forced to wait for hours in corridors and a $115 million spent on a computer system that assigns treatments to the wrong patient.

In New South Wales, a review of the FirstNet computer system found it is crippled by design flaws and is compromising patient care.

FirstNet allows treatment details and test results to be assigned inadvertently to the wrong patient, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Difficulties retrieving patient records could delay treatment, and the system - on which $115 million has been spent - automatically cancelled pathology and radiology requests if the person was transferred from the emergency department without checking whether these were still needed, the review found.


Qld Health, IBM bury the payroll hatchet

By Renai LeMay and Luke Hopewell, on March 8th, 2011

Queensland's Health Minister Geoff Wilson yesterday declared a tentative victory in the state health department's battle to tame its troubled payroll system, labelling the platform "stabilised" and noting that further improvements were being made. The department also seems to have buried the hatchet with IBM.

The payroll system went into meltdown in early 2010 after being introduced in March, with a large number of Queensland Health staff receiving little or no pay for some pay periods. The SAP-based platform, built with the assistance of IBM, serves some 78,000 of the department's staff every fortnight, with the total payroll amount being $210 million.

In a statement released yesterday, Wilson described the new system as having been "stabilised" one year on from its go-live date, but said there was further work to be done.


Research solutions for a bionic eye may be closer than they appear

Conrad Walters

March 5, 2011

RESEARCHERS working on Australia's bionic eye have a new solution in sight.

People with normal vision use light to understand an object's shape, texture and brightness. For the blind, though, it is hard to deliver enough clues to achieve this via a computer sensor - an implantable substitute for vision.

However, a team at Bionic Vision Australia is testing a counter-intuitive approach that seems to help people navigate an obstacle course with few visual clues, said Dr Chris McCarthy, a research engineer with the consortium developing a bionic eye. The creation of a bionic eye was cited as a national goal at the Australia 2020 summit convened by the former prime minister Kevin Rudd.


Medicare Locals: guidelines for the establishment and initial operation of Medicare Locals

Read the full text

DOC Medicare Locals: guidelines for the establishment and initial operation of Medicare Locals

07 March 2011These guidelines provide an overview of the arrangements for the establishment of Medicare Locals. The Commonwealth Government is establishing Medicare Locals to drive improvements in primary health care and ensure that primary health care services are better tailored to meet the needs to local communities. Medicare Locals will be primary health care organisations, established to coordinate primary health care delivery to address local health care needs and service gaps.

These guidelines take into account submissions received on the Medicare Locals Discussion Paper on Governance and Functions released on 29 October 2010 on the yourHealth website and views of other key stakeholders.





Anonymous said...

A golden week of mis-information leading up to the election.

Firstly hats off to Jon Patrick for breaching patient confidentiality and posting a Nepean Hospital patients contact details, indications etc whilst simultaneously trying to defame Cerner's FirstNet system while pushing his own open source implementation!

Secondly good work NSW Health HSS for buying a Carolla and expecting a Lexus.

Thirdly, good work Cerner for delivering shonky code.

Anonymous said...

Well said anonymous, but you left out the excellent work by the ED Directors at St George, Nepean, etc who have been working hard since day one to ensure low take-up and to push the case for having local control over their own IT systems.