Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 23 May, 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

A week with a focus on e-Health news from the States (Tas, WA and Qld) and really important news following the UK National Audit Office reporting on the UK e-Health Program.

There is no doubt there are many lessons to be learnt from the UK - whether that will happen we will see in due course.

One really does wonder whether an audit of the PCEHR after 2-3 years would find ‘value for money’ or an improvement in health outcomes!


Australian hospital CIOs ramp up IT spending in 2011

May 20, 2011

Fifty five per cent of hospitals CIOs in Australia say they plan to increase spending on IT in 2011, five percentage points more than last year, according to an Ovum survey.

In a new report the independent technology analyst unveils the results of its latest healthcare Business Trends Survey, with reassuring results. Overall, 42 per cent of hospital CIOs questioned will increase spending on IT this year. Twenty-two per cent of these will ramp up spending significantly, compared to only 14 per cent last year. Australian CIOs were already optimistic about their IT budget prior to the government’s announcement. They plan to investment 35% of their external IT budget in 2011 on hardware, followed by software investments of 30%.


Health increases telehealth bounty for specialists

$216.3 million more up for grabs in incentives and rebates over online consultations

The federal Department of Health and Ageing has poured an additional $216.3 million to fund its telehealth consultations scheme until 2015, with expectations around ten per cent of the nation’s practitioner workforce would take part in the scheme within five years.

The initiative, announced during the 2010 federal election and confirmed in November last year, set aside $402.2 million to provide rebates for regional and remote patients consulting with doctors through videoconferencing or other technological means until the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Of that funding, $50 million was confirmed at the time to be spent adding videoconferencing capabilities to the after hours GP helpline and providing training to that staff for its use.


Cops, e-health win big in WA budget

By Josh Taylor, on May 20th, 2011

The Western Australian Government has committed to investing $89.6 million in this year's budget to continue e-health initiatives in the state, while the police received a stack of funding for communications and core systems upgrades.

The state's 10-year eHealthWA program has been in place since 2006 and has so far seen the state replace its core health applications with what it calls the "New Core" that will establish accessible integrated electronic patient records in WA. Since 2010, the program has been working to align itself with the requirements of the Federal Government's e-health agenda, which will lead to a national personally controlled e-health record in July 2012.

According to budget documents, as a part of a raft of investment in IT upgrades across a number of government departments, the WA Government will invest $89.6 million in WA Health ICT.


HCN sale tipped to fetch up to $300m


THE company that makes the prescribing software Medical Director could soon be up for sale - but bidders will have to fork out $250-$300 million.

HCN (Healthcare Communication Network) was bought by the GP corporate giant Primary Health Care for about $100 million six years ago following a bidding war with IBA Health.


Primary Health Care confirms proposal to sell Health Communication Network

  • Cynthia Koons
  • From: Dow Jones Newswires
  • May 20, 2011 11:11AM

PRIMARY Health Care today said it was considering a proposal for the potential sale of Health Communication Network, but that the terms of the proposal are incomplete.

Health Communication Network provides clinical and practice-management software for Australian clinicians.

Primary said that, while the proposal was in draft form, the offer remains subject to board consideration.


Qld Health launches revamped metrics site

The site contains a number of hospital metrics from the state's 27 reporting hospitals

The Queensland Government’s health department has launched a revamped website in an effort to simplify data and make it more easily accessible for users.

Minister for Health, Senator Geoff Wilson, said the upgraded site would collate existing information into specific, easy-to-find areas for the state’s 27 reporting hospitals as opposed to having information both online as well as in quarterly reports.

“It's about a new way of doing things that means people can access more information about their hospital in a clearer way, and when they want to,” Wilson said in a statement.

The site includes comparisons to national indicators, reports on emergency department data, how hospitals are performing in elective surgery, in emergency departments, the number of people that are waiting, and the number of people that came to hospital over a certain period of time.


Prescribing changes needed to meet e-health deadlines

17th May 2011

Mark O’Brien

AXE paper prescriptions from July next year: that is the call on Government from the head of one of Australia’s leading electronic prescribing service operators.

Speaking at the 8th Annual Future of the PBS conference in Sydney last week, MediSecure CEO Phillip Shepherd said if the Government was serious about meeting its 1 July 2012 deadline for the introduction of a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) it must get e-prescriptions working first.

Mr Shepherd told MO decisive action was needed to encourage the adoption of e-prescriptions by making them the only means by which a patient could access medications.


Tasmanian Health Dept sick of paper shuffling

Statewide occupational health record information system will migrate thousands of paper records to digital

The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is moving to cut the voluminous paper records required to monitor the health and safety of its employees via the rollout of a statewide occupational health record information system.

The system, which will manage the details of some 12,000 employees, will capture, manage and maintain a full range of occupational medicine activities for DHHS staff. Specific information includes employee health assessments, occupational exposure, vaccinations and clinical consultations.

According to the DHHS, moving to an electronic system will reduce the amount of storage required for the hard copy health records — presently some 8500 — and allow the agency to report on a number of parameters and allow easy production of vaccination updates.


UK's $17bn E-health vision nears mission impossible

CSC and BT could be in firing line.

The National Health Service’s £11.4 billion ($17.4 billion) electronic healthcare records roll out is in dire straits and has little chance of recovery, according to the UK’s National Audit Office.

A report released Wednesday into the NHS’ “National Programme for IT” concluded that the £2.7 billion already spent since 2002 “does not represent value for money”.

The vision for the program, originally due for completion in 2010, would also not be realised, according to the auditor.

It had little faith that the two main contractors, CSC and BT, could meet the new 2015-2016 timeframe, or that the fate of the planned £4.3 billion budget would be any different to what had been spent to date.


Public procurement: Only the bare bones

By Nicholas Timmins

Published: May 16 2011 23:37 | Last updated: May 16 2011 23:37

When Tony Blair convened a Downing Street breakfast seminar in February 2002 to assess the information technology needs of Britain’s taxpayer-funded National Health Service, “it was like a revivalist meeting”, says Philip Hunt, the minister who was then in charge of the project.

The mood was infectious. Bill Gates of Microsoft had been impressing on the prime minister of the day the merits of an all-electronic patient record – quicker, cheaper and safer care, with no need for patients endlessly to repeat their details to every clinician they met. From that breakfast stemmed the world’s biggest civilian IT programme.

Mr Blair himself – while famously never using a computer during his 11 years in office – was bewitched by the internet age and what it could do to modernise the UK. He had for years been talking up an ideal in which, when a patient from Birmingham was taken seriously ill 90 miles or so north in Bradford, the doctors would instantly have all the records to hand.

In those far easier financial times, his government had already decided to double spending on the NHS – tackling years of underinvestment with the aim of returning it to the top of the international league table of health systems. What better symbol of modernisation – in the days of rapidly growing online banking – than achieving for all 50m patients in England the all-singing and dancing electronic patient record that had been the goal of the IT industry for 20 years?


UK Trust signs up for iSOFT's eprescribing system

Monday 16th May 2011

iSOFT has agreed contracts with Stockport NHS Foundation Trust for its strategic e-prescribing and medicines management (ePMA) solution and follows an agreement to extend its contract for iSOFT’s PatientCentre patient administration system for a further five years. The contracts total up to £2.1 million.

A fully integrated smart component of Stockport’s PatientCentre solution, ePMA will be available across the 700-bed acute trust.

“We undertook a thorough clinical engagement programme within the trust to understand the suitability of the software for an acute NHS environment and the benefits that could be delivered clinically and operationally for nursing, pharmacy, medical and management stakeholders,” said Ken Brennan, Director of IM&T at Stockport. “This involved discussions with executives and clinicians in Australia who are established users of iSOFT’s ePMA. With iSOFT’s commitment to working in partnership with the trust, we are confident of delivering tangible benefits to our patients and staff.”


'Jeopardy!'-winning computer delving into medicine


May 22, 2011 - 7:20AM

Some guy in his pajamas, home sick with bronchitis and complaining online about it, could soon be contributing to a digital collection of medical information designed to help speed diagnoses and treatments.

A doctor who is helping to prepare IBM's Watson computer system for work as a medical tool says such blog entries may be included in Watson's database.

Watson is best known for handily defeating the world's best "Jeopardy!" players on TV earlier this year. IBM says Watson, with its ability to understand plain language, can digest questions about a person's symptoms and medical history and quickly suggest diagnoses and treatments.

The company is still perhaps two years from marketing a medical Watson, and it says no prices have been established. But it envisions several uses, including a doctor simply speaking into a handheld device to get answers at a patient's bedside.


Hit and run victim has made medical history by standing and walking, bringing hope to paraplegics

A US college baseball champion who was paralysed from the chest down in a hit-and-run car accident nearly five years ago has made history by standing and walking again with assistance, in a breakthrough that brings new hope to paraplegic patients worldwide.

Thanks to the treatment, 25-year-old Californian Rob Summers can stand up by controlling his leg muscles himself, and remain standing for four minutes at a time, when an implanted electrode is used to electrically stimulate his spinal cord.

The length of time he can stand is able to be extended to an hour if he is given assistance when he weakens, and he can also make stepping motions on a treadmill when placed in a harness and helped by a therapist.


Identity theft not taken seriously: victim

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 16, 2011 5:52PM

IT was no joke when Welsh writer and comedian Bennett Arron fell victim to identity theft more than a decade ago - he owed thousands of pounds to mobile phone companies, home shopping firms and department stores.

Today, it has become a much more familiar scenario, but back then it was unheard of, as he told the AusCERT 2011 conference on the Gold Coast this week.

Mr Arron and his new wife had found a perfect first home in London, and were ready to buy.

But the bank arranging their mortgage had some bad news: "We are writing to you because of your outstanding debts..."

It was the beginning of a nightmare that lost them the house, their rental accommodation and - with a baby on the way - left them homeless and penniless.


Be careful of the cloud, warns Sophos

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 18, 2011 8:47AM

COMPANIES need to be cautious about cloud computing because they are essentially putting all their data in someone else's hands, warns security specialist Paul Ducklin.

"Cloud computing isn't new, it was invented in the sixties by IBM when they brought out the first remote terminals," Sophos Asia-Pacific's head of technology told the AusCERT 2011 conference on the Gold Coast.

"But the scale is huge these days and because data is much more portable, with the interconnecting networks so much faster, your data can be anywhere, at any time.


Local CIOs get cosy with cloud computing: survey

  • Stuart Kennedy
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 18, 2011 7:15PM

CLOUD computing moved sharply into the mindset of local chief information officers last year according to a new survey.

The IBM 2010 Global CEO study canvassed more than 3000 chief information officers globally and 181 CIOs in Australia and New Zealand.

The IBM Institute survey found 60 per cent of ANZ CIOs saw cloud computing as strategic and planned to implement cloud in their organisations in the next five years compared with 39 per cent of ANZ CIOs in a similar survey conducted in 2009.

Intentions to use hardware virtualisation technology – the fundamental building block of cloud computing infrastructure – also weighed heavily on ANZ CIO minds, with 76 per cent saying they were focused on virtualisation investments compared with 68 per cent globally.


GPs get the go-ahead to order less risky scans

Amy Corderoy

May 17, 2011

THE federal government will allow GPs to order magnetic resonance imaging scans to stop patients being sent for riskier and less sensitive imaging such as computed tomography scans.

New research shows the number of children undergoing CT scans has grown by 5.1 per cent a year over the past 20 years.

The government's decision to allow GPs to order MRI scans could prove lifesaving for children with cancers who would otherwise lose time waiting for a specialist appointment, said the head of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Matthew Andrews.


Einstein was right all along: the future is dark

Deborah Smith

May 20, 2011

IT'S official. The universe is slowly fading away into the distance. An invisible force thought to be pushing the cosmos ever faster apart does exist, Australian astronomers have concluded.

The team is the first to have looked at the structure of the universe more than halfway back in time, to a period when this repulsive force, known as dark energy, began to dominate over the pull of gravity.

Chris Blake, of Swinburne University, said the results of their four-year survey of more than 200,000 distant galaxies show the mysterious force is a property of space itself.

''Dark energy is real,'' Dr Blake said. ''It fills the universe.''




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