Monday, July 04, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 4 July, 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 rather eclectic mix this week.

First we have two different states doing quite differently in terms of provision of public information in the health system. Diametrically different outcomes!

Second we have lots on telehealth.

Third there are some interesting articles on a variety of security and other areas that have arisen.

Fourth we have a very odd set of comments from the Pharmacy Guild if they have been quoted correctly.

Last we see a few comments on the Medicare Locals which seem to be a serious piece of non-reality right now. I guess the next 12 months will show if anything good will flow from the concept and the implementation.


Hospital waiting times live on internet


IN what may be a world first, live waiting times in the emergency departments at Adelaide's public hospitals are now available to the public over the internet.

The operational business intelligence dashboard, used by hospitals and ambulance services, gives half-hour updates on the number of people arriving and departing and is now available to the public on the SA Health website.

The system also gives information on the number of people being treated in each emergency department and how long they spend waiting.


Hospital data website fails to show waiting times

Julia Medew and Kate Hagan

July 1, 2011

THE state government has failed to deliver promised real-time data showing waiting times in Victorian emergency departments.

The site, promised during last year's election campaign, was meant to include the number of patients waiting at any given time for emergency care in hospitals.

But the website, launched yesterday, instead gives median waiting times for non-urgent patients during specified time periods based on the hospital's performance in previous weeks.

Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said the website did not provide real-time data as promised and could mislead patients.


Scientists welcome bioinformatics bonanza

  • Leigh Dyton, Science writer
  • From: The Australian
  • July 02, 2011 12:00AM

AUSTRALIAN researchers now have free access to one of the world's most comprehensive database resources.

Launched last month, a mirror facility at the University of Queensland in Brisbane means scientists can use their computers to enter the most used data services of the British arm of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute.

"Using the mirror, Australian researchers will be able to access important research data 10 times faster than it would normally take from the EBI, reducing download times from days to hours or hours to minutes," says EMBL Australia's chairman Richard Larkins.

"A national team of bioinformaticians can assist them with accessing data and processing the large volume of data generated by modern experimental techniques."


Australian university failed to secure students' data and broke law: Privacy Commissioner

Ben Grubb

June 29, 2011 - 10:01AM

A Sydney university "did not take the appropriate steps to ensure the security of students' personal information", the NSW Privacy Commissioner has found.

Earlier this year Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, reported that the detailed records of thousands of University of Sydney students past and present were being stored online where they could be easily downloaded and read via an internet connection without a password.

Details openly available on the university's site included a student's full name, residential address, email address, which courses he/she studied and how much the course cost.


ACT Health first to launch new Supply Chain catalogue system for health services

24 June 2011. ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher has welcomed the official launch of a new medical supply and inventory system in Canberra, the first of its kind in Australia. "The Master Catalogue Information Service (MCIS) is part of a national program to streamline supply chain management in our healthcare system," the Chief Minister said.

"All ACT Health services and hospitals will benefit from the new Master Catalogue Information Service, which is designed to increase efficiency through reduction of product ordering errors and automation of inventory management processes."


NEHTA, ACT Govt kicks off MCIS trial

The state government, in collaboration with NEHTA will trial the system in the ACT before extending it to other states

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), in collaboration with the ACT Government, has kicked off the trial of a medical supply and inventory system in the state.

The Master Catalogue Information Service (MCIS), part of the national program to streamline supply chain management within the Australian healthcare system, aims to provide a national uniform set of data around medication.

The system will be implemented in the ACT initially, due to the state’s single existing local system and “defined geography”, and will be expanded to other states and territories with which NEHTA is currently in discussions with.


Telehealth bonus not enough for specialists

The Federal Government’s bonus for specialists who do video consultations is not as generous as it may sound, according to the president of the RACP, who says it falls far short of college demands.

Dr Les Bolitho told Psychiatry Update that even though the government had a promised 50% loading on existing MBS items for services conducted by video from July 1, specialists who bulk billed would still only receive 85% of that total.

“We were arguing for the rebate payment to be 100% of the scheduled fee, instead they said ‘Oh no we’ll only give you the patient’s rebate fee’,” he said.

For most private practice specialists, this would not be a good enough incentive to come on board, he added:


Telehealth: lots of risk but very little guidance

27th Jun 2011

Dr Andrew Jeremijenko MBBS, MAE, FRACGP, MHA, FAFOEM

TELEHEALTH MBS items, due to be available from 1 July, offer GPs and specialists the opportunity to conduct video consultations and represent an important reform that should improve patient access to medical services, in particular to specialist services.

However, a number of issues need to be addressed to ensure patient safety is maintained, doctors are not put at medico-legal risk and, importantly, that the $250 million program represents money well spent.

A major concern is the fact that currently there is no requirement for training before doctors start providing these services.

The introduction of funded video consults can be compared with the introduction of laparoscopic surgical techniques, in that the task remains the same but the new tools makes the process more complex.


GPs get bonus for e-health video consultations

DOCTORS who work as close as 20km from the nation's capital city centres will get a $6000 incentive payment the first time they help a patient take part in a videoconference consultation with a city specialist.

The payments are designed to encourage take-up of the government's $620 million telehealth program.

Patients in Altona in Julia Gillard's western Melbourne electorate and North Altona in federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon's neighbouring electorate, those in Blacktown and Penrith in western Sydney, and patients in Redland Bay and Strathpine in Brisbane will be able to take advantage of the telehealth scheme.


RACGP helps GPs with telehealth kit

By Suzanne Tindal, on June 30th, 2011

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged its member GPs not to rush out and buy telehealth equipment before the college can finish writing an implementation guide, having reviewed the different technologies and connection options available.

"The RACGP is currently reviewing the different technologies and connection options to provide a choice from a range of vendor equipment as a means of ensuring interoperability between them," Dr Mike Civil, chair of the RACGP Telehealth Standards Taskforce, said in a statement.

The college is also working on the development of clinical telehealth standards for general practitioners, expected to be ready in October.

The program provided a real opportunity for GPs, 96 per cent of which used computers for some clinical purpose, the college said, but it was concerned that many specialists didn't use computers.


PM previews GP telehealth conference

Seeing a medical specialist via videolink will be Medicare-funded for the first time

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 29 June, 2011 15:09

Seeing a medical specialist via videolink will be Medicare-funded for the first time starting Friday.

It's part of the federal government's big $620 million telehealth push which aims to bring rural patients and doctors together regardless of distance.

Under the scheme starting on July 1, patients in remote areas who undergo a video conference with a medical specialist will have the consultation paid for by Medicare.

The government is also pressing hard to get doctors and other medical workers to embrace the scheme.


Doctors better use the telehealth hand out

By Suzanne Tindal, on June 29th, 2011

From Friday, Medicare will provide doctors with funding for holding video-conference appointments with customers in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas.

The idea is that the user goes to a GP or other health centre (for example, nursing homes) to have a conference with a specialist who is farther away than the patient would like to travel.

As part of a $620 million initiative, the doctors who decide to do telehealth consultations in 2011/12 get a $6000 one-off payment to fund set-up costs. However, this amount drops to $4800 in 2012/13, $3900 in the next year and $3300 the year after that.


Google Health discontinuation vindicates Guild strategy

By Nick O'Donoghue on 27 June 2011

Australia must adopt personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHRs) that are managed by health professionals, according to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, after Google announced it will shutdown Google Health.

On Friday, internet giant, Google, revealed it was giving up on its vision of helping users to live healthier lives by discontinuing its patient managed online health record system.

The announcement backs initial research carried out by the Guild, which found only a minority of people would be in a position to upload the necessary data, Kos Sclavos, Guild national president said.


Microsoft says HealthVault still going strong

Microsoft said it's committed to the service, after Google said it would shut down a similar offering

Microsoft said it remains committed to HealthVault, its service that lets users store all their medical information in one place, despite Google's announcement last week that it would shut down a similar service because it wasn't popular enough.

"What does this mean for HealthVault? The 'buzz' online ranges wildly, but the real and simple answer is: nothing," Sean Nolan, chief architect for Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, wrote in a blog post Sunday.

He pointed to some advancements to show Microsoft's commitment to the service. It recently made HealthVault accessible from mobile phones and released a software development kit for third parties to develop mobile applications for the service.


Queensland Health staff to pay back overpayments

Though Queensland Health says demands overpayments due to its bungled rollout of a new payroll system will be handled sensitively.

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 28 June, 2011 11:08

Queensland Health is to begin pursuing staff who have received overpayments as the result of its bungled payroll system.

While the agency says overpaid staff shouldn't be surprised by efforts to reclaim the money, the issue of the overpayments will be handled sensitively, it says.

Queensland Health is trying to claw back $62 million overpaid to staff who recently received letters advising how much they must repay.


Payroll fiasco could spark compo claim

Queensland Health could face compensation claims if it takes a hard line against staff who were accidentally overpaid

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 30 June, 2011 12:07

Queensland Health could face compensation claims if it takes a hard line against staff who were accidentally overpaid, a lawyer warns.

Queensland Health is trying to claw back $62 million in overpayments to thousands of workers caught up in the rollout of a defective payroll system.

Queensland Health has written to workers detailing how much they owe and says it will be sensitive as it tries to recover the money.


Medtech Global to work on e-health records

Tuesday, 28 June 2011, 9:33 am

Press Release: MedTech

Media release

Medtech Global and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute to work on e-health records

New Delhi, India June 27 2011 – Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center (RGCI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with international healthcare IT provider Medtech Global for the digitisation and provision of electronic medical record (EMR) software.

The agreement was announced by New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Honorable John Key, during his state visit to India. Medtech Global’s executive chairman Vino Ramayah is accompanying Prime Minister Key during his visit.

Medtech Global is a leading provider of health management solutions which enable comprehensive management of patient information through all aspects of the healthcare environment. It was founded in New Zealand and its growing global presence includes a software development centre in Chennai and presence in Delhi.


False start for Medicare Locals as transition may take months

  • Adam Cresswell, Health Editor
  • From: The Australian
  • July 02, 2011 12:00AM

PATIENTS, doctors and other health workers may not see any tangible differences for up to a year under the federal government's $416 million network of Medicare Locals, despite the first 19 being launched this week.

The head of the national umbrella body for the existing 118 divisions of general practice, which are expected to evolve into the 62 planned Medicare Locals in most cases, has conceded that "transitioning" into the new bodies may take months, because of the complex contractual and governance arrangements required.

GP Emil Djakic, chairman of the Australian General Practice Network, which represents the existing divisions, told The Weekend Australian there was "no capacity for these organisations to start from stationary from July 1".


Elderly blamed for long hospital waiting lists

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has blamed the increase in the number of older Australians for the failure of her reforms to cut hospital waiting lists three years after they were introduced.

Ms Roxon yesterday conceded elective surgery waits were getting longer despite a $600 million federal spending boost, but said things would be worse if the money had not been spent.

The concession comes shortly before Ms Roxon receives a blueprint detailing potential trouble spots with the implementation of Labor's health reforms based on a two-day workshop conducted by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.

The results show more guidance is needed on how Medicare Locals will work, where commonwealth funding to the states will be directed and whether hospitals will face a crushing red-tape burden reporting to different performance authorities.


Tech toys help brain injury patients

Belinda Tasker

June 28, 2011 - 8:10AM

Smartphones and tablet computers might be the latest playthings for tech fans but they could also play lifesaving roles for brain injury patients.

After suffering a brain injury many people struggle to remember anything for more than a few minutes.

They have to rely on writing endless notes in diaries or on having carers, relatives and friends to remind them to do a range of tasks including taking vital medication or shopping.


Phone triage advice wrong on chest pain

A coroner called for new phone triage protocols after the healthdirect advice line and a GP locum service failed to advise a heart attack patient with chest pain to call an ambulance.

The phone operators and the 41-year woman had been falsely reassured by misinterpreted ECG tests carried out by doctors at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, which also came in for criticism by the South Australian coroner.

He said the woman’s ECGs and troponin T tests had been incorrectly interpreted and she should have been admitted for further evaluation, but instead she was discharged from the emergency department with a diagnosis of reflux.


NBN's assumptions just don't stack up

Peter Martin

June 29, 2011

The trouble is in the detail for the network and its business model.

YOU know a business case is hopeless when the company that's drawn it up has to bribe its competitors not to compete against it. The NBN Co business case has a tenuous relationship with reality. The corporate plan detailing how the company will spend $27 billion of public money and hit its targets reads like a cry for help, and also an exercise in laying down a paper trail so its executives can say ''we told you so'' when their targets are nowhere near met.

Optus cable passes 1.4 million homes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Fast already, it is capable of being upgraded to a top speed of 240 megabits per second, far faster than anyone needs for conceivable uses; way faster than NBN's entry-level speed of 12 Mbps, and on the way to the maximum NBN speed of 1000 Mbps.

Optus was in the process of upgrading its cable from 30 to 80 Mbps. Instead it will ''decommission'' it in return for payments from NBN worth $800 million.

Telstra is already offering 100 Mbps on its Foxtel cables in Melbourne. As a condition of taking $9 billion from NBN over time, it will ''disconnect'' its broadband customers from the cable, although in its case it will continue to use it to deliver pay TV.


After mining, health next goal for Telstra smart camp services

Telco hooks up miners with Foxtel IP network deal

Telstra has sought to capitalise on the lack of entertainment and connectivity options available at mining sites in remote and regional Australia, launching a 'Smart Camp' service.

The service combines IPTV setop boxes, content from pay TV provider Foxtel, telephony services, television channels, on-demand movies and a high-speed fibre broadband connection.

Telstra resources sector marketing and strategy executive, Alan Hindes, told Computerworld Australia that the development of the services was created to cater to demand from the resources sector for entertainment and as a tool for retaining staff situated in remote locations.


What lessons should be learned from the Distribute.IT meltdown?

Now is a good time to look at Cloud compliance, SLAs and legal ramifications says the ACS

As Distribute.IT's server compromise and subsequent acquisition by Netregistry Group[1] this week has shown, companies who are the subject of a hack attack can be taken out of business permanently. The scale of the Distribute.IT disaster raises issues both for customers who use hosting providers to store sensitive business information and for the providers themselves.

That the incident should happen when there is increasing hype around the use of Cloud services, with organisations either hosting assets in the Cloud or using hybrid private/public models, throws into stark relief the legal minefield enterprises face when they rely on another party to store their data.




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