Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 15 August, 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

There seems to me to be no doubt the biggest story of the week relates to the apparently continuing stand-off between DoHA/NEHTA and Standards Australia regarding how E-Health Standards are to be developed and who is to control the processes.

As late as the 12th I am told the standoff continues and this is really not a good for the whole e-Health community and this flows through to the public at large in the end.

We will watch and wait on all this. It really needs to be sorted out sensibly and reasonably.

It is now three or more weeks since I first mentioned the issue and so far the progress is not obvious.

See here:

While waiting for PCEHR Standards to be sorted out you can read one informed view here:

Of course the only Standards that will matter are those implemented by Accenture et al.

Lots of other fun stuff is found below.


E-health gets a $70m boost from Nicola Roxon

NINE small health IT projects have received $70 million in funding, as Health Minister Nicola Roxon picks up the pace on the e-health record program.

The projects, announced in March, had to undergo a second round of bidding before receiving funds under the PCEHR (personally controlled electronic record program) "second-wave" initiative. Originally, up to $55m was allocated for the program.

Most of the money has gone to well-established state government projects: NSW Health, trading as Health Administration Corp, pocketed almost $15m; Northern Territory $12.8m; and Tasmania $3.5m.

In NSW, the Greater Western Sydney e-Health Consortium is focused on high-priority consumer groups. Its project includes secure messaging, electronic referrals and a medical imaging repository.


States demand federal funding for e-health record

State costs likely above $467 million capital spend.

Australia's State governments have called for federal funding to help implement the national e-health record by July 1 next year.

The Victorian Government in particular has accused the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) of failing to discuss Federal Government plans with state and territory governments ahead of implementation, according to a submission released this week.

In the Victorian Government's submission [pdf] to the Department of Health's draft concept of operations for the $467 million e-health records system, Victorian state health minister David Davis said the Federal Government's plans had ignored advice from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).


NSW Health seeks accreditation for e-health rollout

Formal framework could strengthen case for funding.

NSW Health has revealed plans to accredit the state’s rollout of electronic medical records in an attempt to better track its progress and strengthen its case for funding.

The department had informally used a US e-health record adoption model in business plans submitted to state Treasury during the past year.

Chief information officer Greg Wells said it hoped to gain accreditation with the model’s developer, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The state department intended to participate in HIMSS Analytics’ quarterly reviews so its progress could be compared to hospitals across Asia Pacific.


Feds push back on state e-health funding

States want more money for e-health record integration costs.

The Federal Department of Health and Ageing has denied states and territories additional funding to implement its $467 million personally-controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) project.

The lack of federal funding would require individual state governments to front up their own money to establish infrastructure not directly tied to the rollout of the national e-health records.

"No additional PCEHR funding is expected to be allocated to states or territories," a department spokesman said.


Funds cut halts work on e-health records

STANDARDS Australia has stopped work on technology specifications needed for the $500 million e-health record program after the federal Health Department cut funding.

Development is on hold for about 60 technical standards relating to key aspects of the personally controlled e-health record system.

Members of the IT-014 committees, which do the standards work, were last month told that SA halted the program on July 1 after failing to secure a contract for 2011-12.

Minutes from the meeting show that the department had been informed of the situation.


Medicare allowed to inspect patient records


New powers that allow Medicare Australia bureaucrats to inspect, copy and retain patients’ medical records will soon be enforced, the Federal Government has confirmed.

In a statement today, the Federal Department of Human Services said it was writing to doctors to advise them of the changes, which is part of a wider drive to save $147 million from Medicare over four years.

Under the changes, Medicare can request that doctors produce clinically sensitive documents to verify the Medicare benefits they have claimed.


Funds will boost aged care technologies

THE proposed Australian Aged Care Commission will boost the use of technologies in the sector through new funding incentives, the Productivity Commission says.

Under the current system, aged care providers cannot find the capital and recurrent funding needed to introduce new technologies.

“The AACC will take into account the contribution of technology in delivering services in its recommendations on prices and subsidies for approved providers,” the commission said in its landmark report.

“This will reinforce the incentives for adoption.”

The AACC would be set up as an independent body that advises the federal government on aged care policy, and determines fee schedules for accommodation and services.


Hi-tech stimuli help to dull the pain

  • Alexander Gambotto-Burke
  • From: The Australian
  • August 13, 2011 12:00AM

ASK neuroscientist Stuart Smith about the biggest problem with rehabilitation exercises for stroke patients and he'll be blunt: they're boring.

Despite their effectiveness at improving motor control and reducing sensory and intellectual impairment, many stroke patients in Smith's care find exercises repetitive and frustrating.

"This is especially the case with the young guys," says Smith, who is with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeurA) in Sydney.

"It's difficult to even get them to turn up to the rehabilitation sessions sometimes. You can move a bag of sand across a desk thousands of times a day and see a very clear improvement, but no one's going to do that."

What people would rather do is play video games. And, as it happens, that's just what they need.


Project STOP improvements coming: Guild

Changes to Project STOP are being researched that may enable it to interact with dispensing systems, but the Pharmacy Guild of Australia remains tight-lipped as to when improvement will be implemented.

Speaking to Pharmacy News in the wake of criticism of the system, Tim Logan, acting Guild national president, said Project STOP was a useful decision-support tool for pharmacists when it came to dispensing pseudoephedrine containing medicines.

He said the Guild was constantly looking at ways to improve the system, which has been mandated by the state governments of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia to restrict access to pseudoephedrine – a key component in the manufacturing of illicit drugs.

“Project STOP delivers a useful decision-support tool for pharmacists facing requests for pseudoephedrine containing medicines,” he said.


Guild backs AMA call for e-health rethink

Plans to introduce an opt-in, personally controlled health record system in Australia next year are doomed to failure, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA national president, said the Federal Government should make the system opt-out to maximize uptake, otherwise her feared elderly patients and those who are not technically savvy may miss out.


Web reminders to reduce cervical cancer

Pilot program will run for six months in parts of Sydney and the Hunter

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 09 August, 2011 08:21

Online reminders about cervical cancer check-ups could save the lives of hundreds of women, NSW health minister, Jillian Skinner, says.

The pilot program, which will be trialled in parts of NSW, will send online reminders to doctors if women miss regular tests and also generate letters reminding women to get screened.

"This is such a forthright idea that could potentially save the lives of hundreds of women across the state," Skinner said in a statement.


Phoenix Medical Publishing launches AusDI Advanced Mobile for iPhone and iPad

Phoenix Medical Publishing has launched a mobile version of AusDI Advanced. AusDI Mobile is FREE for current subscribers.

AusDI Advanced is one of the recommended Pharmacy Board Resources for retail pharmacists.

The mobile App is yet another option for clinicians to access trusted, independent Australian Medicines information on the go. The App is simple to navigate and delivers monthly updates directly to your Apple devise. You can ‘Save Favourites’ and view them offline at your convenience.


Lost in translation: emergency staff don't listen properly

Julie Robotham

August 10, 2011

HOSPITAL emergency departments function almost entirely on undocumented conversations that are frequently misunderstood, which puts patients at risk of wrong diagnosis or treatment, the first big study into the question has found.

And the situation is worsening as hospitals are overwhelmed with a growing number of emergency visits, including from an increasing proportion of elderly people with complex conditions and people whose language or cultural background poses extra communication challenges.

The research by the University of Technology, Sydney - based on more than 1000 hours of direct observation in NSW and ACT hospitals - identified the failure of doctors and nurses to listen properly to patients' descriptions of their illness as particularly problematic.


Privacy guidelines not enough to prevent data breaches: Law lecturer

Australian privacy watchdog needed to prevent more Medvet data leaks, another Sony hack

To prevent online privacy breaches Australia needs a privacy watchdog rather than merely guidelines, a law lecturer has argued.

In an article at University of Canberra law lecturer, Bruce Arnold, argues the high number of data leaks happening in Australia and overseas shows that the government must step up and move beyond privacy guidelines.

“Australia needs a privacy watchdog that is quick to act, a watchdog that, like its overseas counterparts in the UK and US, is equipped with the sort of financial penalties that get the attention of executives,” Arnold wrote.


E-Health - High cost for very little return

Peter Sayers

Politicians in the UK are starting to wake up to the fact that their Department of Health is unable to deliver its electronic care records system, after investing 2.7 billion pounds sterling in the project without being able to demonstrate a single benefit of the system.

The project has suffered from the same problems that have beset a similar Australian project being developed by the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).

It is now recognised that the pitfalls and wast might have been avoided in the UK had they consulted a range of health professionals before starting the project.


Predictive risk modelling in health: options for New Zealand and Australia

PDF Predictive risk modelling in health: options for New Zealand and Australia

08 August 2011

Predictive risk models (PRMs) are case-finding tools that enable health care systems to identify patients at risk of expensive and potentially avoidable events such as emergency hospitalisation. Examples include the PARR (Patients-at-Risk-of-Rehospitalisation) tool and Combined Predictive Model used by the National Health Service in England.


Second skin has a feel for those vital signs in need of attention

Nicky Phillips TECHNOLOGY

August 12, 2011

THE days of connecting patients to medical monitoring machines with bulky electrodes and intrusive wires may soon be over thanks to an ultra-thin electronic device that can be applied to skin like a temporary tattoo.

The stick-on device can measure a person's heart beat, brain waves and muscle activity and, in future, could also be used for wound healing and muscle rehabilitation.

An engineer and co-inventor of the device, John Rogers, said the aim was to develop an electronic technology that could integrate with the skin and was almost unnoticeable to the user.




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