Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 11 April, 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:

The main theme this week seems to be an increased tempo in Health Minister Roxon’s spruiking of the PCEHR assisted by the Departmental Secretary Jane Halton.

The question regarding all this is whether this activity is because they are confident they can deliver what they have been promising or because they are hoping if they say it is a great idea often enough it will come true!

I leave it to the reader to decide what they think.

I do note that the NEHTA CEO seems to be sounding just a little nervous about the scale of what is planned. He is right to be concerned in my view.


E-health ahead of itself

  • Adam Cresswell, Health editor
  • From: The Australian
  • April 09, 2011 12:00AM

AFTER tipping nearly $500 million of last year's federal budget into the quest to kickstart a system of electronic patient health records, the government is keen to publicise the first tangible benefits now being unveiled.

During a visit to western Sydney this week, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon visited a GP clinic that will be one of many in the area to lead the rollout of e-health records, including those of infants.

The project means the Blue Book -- a personal health record for infants, which NSW Health has been distributing to parents since 1988 -- will be available electronically and able to be viewed by parents, their GPs and other eligible health workers including those at nearby hospitals.

This project is specific to western Sydney, one of 12 "lead implementation sites" where specific aspects of electronic health records will be piloted before the system goes nationwide in July next year.


Health Records tender attracts huge interest

Deadlines slip as IT suppliers call for more data.

The Department of Health and Ageing extended its deadline for one of the most hotly contested IT projects on offer in Canberra this year, after being swamped with questions from suppliers.

The tender called for a "national infrastructure partner" to design, build, integrate and test the Government's personally controlled electronic health record system (PCEHR).

It involved everything from the build of an operations centre and core ICT infrastructure for the PCEHR program, the development of portals for healthcare suppliers and consumers for access to health records, and the build of a call centre to handle inquiries about the system.

The department stated that it would prefer a large systems integrator as lead partner, which would bring together a consortium of smaller, niche providers bidding separately for "bundles" of specific work such as operating the call centre or developing the software portal.


Funding winners face more hurdles: Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced seven state-based projects

SUCCESSFUL bidders in the $55 million funding round for e-health projects are bracing for further scrutiny as officials recast the "second wave" sites as trials rather than implementations.

Software vendors and project partners were surprised to learn each of the nine projects announced by Health Minister Nicola Roxon last week will be given $100,000 -- and a week to prepare more detailed presentations for approval.

The news came during a roundtable on the personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) organised by Health and the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), attended by more than 200 consumer, industry, clinical and government representatives.


GPs under resourced for Govt e-health agenda

GP NSW CEO says much effort will be required to train and support GPs to deal with e-health changes

The chief executive of General Practice NSW has warned both State and Federal Governments that GPs are lacking the resources to deal with the country’s e-health agenda, including the $467 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) program.

Addressing attendees at the annual e-health forum for divisions of General Practice NSW, CEO Jan Newland, said extensive effort would be required to train and support GPs to deal with the expected e-health changes.


'Increased need' for health data management in NSW

Apr 7 2011, 15:14 PM

Data management is to become more important to healthcare bodies in the New South Wales (NSW) area, it has been suggested.

According to Jan Newland, chief executive officer of General Practice NSW, there will be an increased need for population health data management in order to deal with the region's ehealth agenda, reports TechWorld.

She noted general practices are essentially small to medium-sized businesses that may require help in meeting the standards set out in the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) programme.


Health record concept sees public release

Concept of operations to be released within days

Health minister, Nicola Roxon, is expected to release the draft concept of operations document for the $467 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) as early as Friday this week, providing greater detail into the the construct and ongoing operations of the initiative.

Roxon has previously been lax to release the document, which had so far only been provided to vendors tendering for work on the project. The withheld document led some consumer advocacy groups to claim the Federal Government was purposefully being secretive about the entire project.

The concept document has been a work in progress for at least a year, having undergone ten iterations by the time a version of the draft was leaked in November last year.

However, head of the initiative and lead agency the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Andrew Howard, told a roundtable of industry and consumer groups last week that the document had changed substantially in the lead-up to its release.


NEHTA adopts Healthelink remnants for Sydney trial

To become hot spot for opt-in testing

The NSW Government has successfully agreed with the lead Australian government e-health agency to integrate remnants of the Healthelink trial into the wider, $467 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) led by Federal Government.

Announced as one of the nine wave 2 e-health implementation sites by health minister, Nicola Roxon, last month, the nominated site in western Sydney will adopt and expand on the scope of the Healthelink pilot initiated by the state government.

The $20 million Healthelink trial first began in 2004, with pilot sites in the Hunter Valley and later in western Sydney focussing on the elderly and children under 15, respectively. As of 30 June last year, the Healthelink pilot counted more than 103,000 clients.

The pilot has continued since but was never extended beyond the two initial pilot sites, and updates on progress have ceased since June last year.


PCEHR pledged for July 2012

Patients will be able to start building their own Personally-Controlled E-Health Record (PCEHR) from July 2012, the head of the Federal health department Jane Halton has announced.

Speaking at an AMA-hosted session on e-health in Sydney this week, Ms Halton said patients would have the chance to register and ‘opt-in’ to the system from the middle of next year, although it would be a work in progress with an “incremental rollout”.

She said the system would comprise of a GP-curated summary health record, an event record and a record on which information could be added and amended by the patient.


Hawkesbury Hills Division of GPs get ehealth

05 Apr, 2011 12:00 AM

THE Hawkesbury Hills Division of General Practice is part of a consortium that will implement the federal government's e-health scheme in western Sydney.

Federal Health and Ageing Minister Nicola Roxon announced last week that the Greater Western Sydney e-Health Consortium was one of nine new teams to implement the government's $467 million national electronic health records project.


New medical frontier

BRISBANE’S south is at the forefront of a bold new frontier in medicine.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon last week announced Brisbane South Division will pilot the roll-out of a controversial ``e-health’’ records program in the city’s south.

``Our 12 e-health lead implementation sites are aiming to have more than half a million Australians enrolled before the national launch of e-health records next year,’’ she said.

The area will be just one of nine nationwide to participate in the trial.

The announcement comes on the back of the recent launch of Brisbane South Division’s Service Seeker database, which catalogues more than 4000 health and community services in the region.


Brisbane South Service Seeker is available at


Halton pitches PCEHR as chronic disease, aged care solution

Australia’s forthcoming personally controlled electronic healthcare record (PCEHR) is the only way the nation can address the rising costs of chronic disease and aged care, according to a senior government official.

Jane Halton, secretary for federal department of Health and Ageing, addressed CHIK Service’s annual Health-e-Nation conference in Melbourne today. Ms Halton said despite the fact the annual Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting could be described as a “mating dance” between the federal government and the states, all jurisdictions were walking in the same direction on the subject of ehealth.


Understanding eHealth Readiness

Evaluating the eHealth readiness of the medical specialists and allied health professionals.

Understanding eHealth Readiness


The Department is currently progressing key foundational activities including the Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service), which commenced operations on 1 July 2010, as well as investing $466.7 million over two years from July 2010 to establish a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system.

These foundations, including the PCEHR system are aimed at key populations of health professionals, including medical specialists and allied health professionals, to provide quality healthcare along the continuum of care in the primary and ambulatory care sectors.


Tablet time: software supplants scrawl


07 Apr, 2011 08:30 AM

A laptop on a trolley could be the answer to saving nurses' eyes and patients' lives from the dangers of doctors' horrific handwriting.

A new, locally developed medication management system is being rolled out across hospital floors around the globe in an effort to eradicate errors in prescribing and administering drugs to patients.

Canberra GPs John Ainge and Dennis Armstrong's MedChart medication management software will be launched in British hospitals later this month.


NASA inspires Precedence chief

The space shuttle isn’t typically a launching pad for a career in ehealth.

But for Professor Michael Georgeff, chief executive at Precedence Healthcare, NASA fuelled his foray into the health sector and a software business that is helping underpin the federal government’s $467 million personally controlled electronic healthcare record (PCEHR).

“After I worked at NASA, the then prime minister, Bob Hawke, invited me back to Australia to work on high performance computing,” said Prof. Georgeff. “When I came back, I saw an opportunity for Australia to become a leader in ehealth, and Precedence Healthcare was born.”

Earlier this month Precedence was selected as a software provider to support the roll-out of second wave PCEHR sites. According to Prof. Georgeff, Precedence will work with St Vincents and Mater Health in Sydney, and Calvary Health Care in the ACT to provide its cdmNet web-based software as a basis for the roll-out of PCEHRs in those areas.


Virus infection brings on changes

IT security company Stratsec has completed its review of NSW Ambulance Service procedures ordered after a computer virus shut down the system responsible for dispatching and tracking ambulances.

Ambulance services were disrupted on the weekend of February 12-13 until the following Monday at control centres in Sydney, Charlestown, Dubbo and Warilla after the virus infected VisiCAD, a computer dispatch system used by the NSW service for 10 years.


Computer giant turns to germ warfare

Rob Waters

April 5, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO: The computer company IBM is developing a technology that searches out drug-resistant germs in the body and destroys them.

Engineers at the company's San Jose facility in California have created nanoparticles 50,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair that can obliterate the cell walls of drug-resistant bacteria.

The structures then harmlessly degrade, leaving no residue, a study in the journal Nature Chemistry says.


IBM to 'kick the backside' out of bacteria

By Daniel Terdiman, on April 4th, 2011

Every year, an infectious "superbug" known as MRSA kills thousands who never should have died. But an international group of scientists think they may have found the key to shutting down the lethal bacteria that leads to these deaths and to countless less-serious infections.

According to IBM Research, which worked with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore on the discovery of the new antibiotic nanoparticles, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) killed 19,000 Americans in 2005.

This dangerous infectious bacteria is often found in hospitals and other places, like health clubs and schools, where people come into close contact with each other. And IBM says that health professionals have had an extremely hard time combating MRSA and similar bacteria because they are micro-organisms that can quickly evolve and resist existing antibiotics, mainly because the drugs don't effectively attack the cell walls or membranes of the bacteria.


High speed broadband will create e-hospitals: Budde

A network would enable hospitals to offer services beyond the imediate physical area they are located in

A high speed national broadband network could create new business models for hospitals, enabling them to expand services provision beyond their local area, potentially reaching patients both nationally and internationally, according to telco analyst, Paul Budde.

In a recent blog post, Budde noted how high-speed broadband under the National Broadband Network (NBN) could lead to the creation of 'e-hospitals'.


RACGP and AGPN get together on e-health

The Royal Australian College of GPs and the AGPN have announced they are “united” on e-health as they work together on the rollout of the IT reform.

The RACGP and AGPN say the collaboration will guarantee a “smooth transition” to e-health across primary care and help with the implementation of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR).

“The RACGP and AGPN are in a position to strategically design the quality of work expected within the e-health agenda,” AGPN Chair Dr Emil Djakic says.


Founder ponders iSoft counter offer for healthcare software outfit

ISOFT founder Gary Cohen has indicated he may make a counter offer for the healthcare software company less than 48 hours after US information technology services group Computer Sciences Corporation announced a takeover bid.

"It's the first shot in the salvo of someone looking to make a bid," Mr Cohen said yesterday.

He said CSC had tried to buy the company four years ago but IBA, another company he founded, had counterbidded and was successful.


White knight rides in to save former partner iSoft

ONCE upon a time, there were two little Aussie health IT firms out to conquer the world. Now there are none.

IBA Health and iSoft Australia had long been rivals, and were both on the global e-health roller-coaster before iSoft crashed in Britain in 2007 amid claims of financial irregularities.

IBA acquired its maimed rival in a $333 million share arrangement that made it one of the world's largest makers of hospital software.

Now, IBA Health -- which took on the iSoft name -- has suffered a similar fate. CSC will buy out iSoft for 17c per share in cash, or about $188m.


CSC guns for iSoft R&D

Takeover bid to be completed by September

CSC Australia’s director of health services this week pinpointed the research and development portfolio of ailing e-health provider iSoft (ASX:ISF) as a key attraction of the company’s $US188 million ($AUD180 million) takeover bid.

The California-based parent company of CSC Australia confirmed buy-out talks with iSoft over the weekend, offering 17c Australian per share and ending a week-long freeze on iSoft shares pending completion of takeover talks. The bid values the company beyond the 5.2c per share at which it traded prior to suspending trade on the ASX.


iSoft in CSC buyout, Lorenzo 'safe'

AUSTRALIA'S first and only global health IT player was bought by services giant CSC overnight, in a move that will protect iSoft's intellectual resources and contract revenue.

US-based CSC will acquire all outstanding equity of iSoft Group for 17 cents a share in cash, under a court approved scheme of arrangement. The value of the offer has not been confirmed, but may be well below the expected $300 million.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approvals in several countries, should be completed in 2012.

CSC said the acquisition would "complement and strengthen" its healthcare integration and services portfolio.


CSC of US buys healthcare software firm iSoft for $188m

US IT services group Computer Sciences Corporation has signed an agreement to buy struggling healthcare software company iSoft for about $188 million.

A scheme implementation agreement to buy all outstanding equity of iSoft was signed in London late last week with the full support of iSoft's board, in the absence of a superior bid.

Under the scheme of arrangement, CSC will offer iSoft shareholders 17c a share in cash, more than three times the 5.2c iSoft's shares closed at on Thursday, when the company went into a trading halt.


'Bionic eye' implant offers hope to the blind

Kerry Sheridan

April 3, 2011 - 2:14PM

For a man whose view of the world has slowly faded to black over 30 years, a device that allows him to see flashes of light has kindled his hope of one day gazing upon his grandson's face.

A career electrician who grew up in Greece and came to the United States as a young man, Elias Konstantopoulos first noticed his vision getting poorer when at age 43 he absentmindedly tried on a relative's eyeglasses and found he could see more clearly with them than without.

Soon after, he visited a doctor who tested his sight and discovered he was no longer able to see his outstretched arms from the corners of his eyes. His peripheral vision was deteriorating.


Government must justify web snooping: senate report

Nicky Phillips

April 8, 2011

THE federal government should justify why mandatory collection and retention of personal data is necessary for law enforcement, a senate report into online privacy has found.

An analysis of the costs, benefits and risks should be conducted before the government pursues its proposed data retention scheme, the report stated.

''We have sent a rocket back to the Attorney-General's office saying don't proceed any further until you've done your basic homework,'' said the Greens Senator Scott Ludlum, a member of the senate committee.




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