Monday, December 05, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 5th December, 2011.

Here are a few I have come across this week.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and a few paragraphs. 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

An interesting week with the highlight being a review of the various submissions on the PCEHR Legislation. It was interesting to read the varying perspectives and to note there are certainly some groups who think there is more work to do on the part of Government to address a range of pretty basic concerns.
If what has happened to date is any guide I fear most of the comments and suggestions will be ignored. Going that way, of course, will lead to disaster for the overall project, as the issues raised really need careful attention.
I look forward to reader votes on the topic in the Weekly Poll.

Information systems a cure for sick hospitals?

November 28, 2011 - 9:13AM
George Wright
Recently my son broke his arm quite seriously and so I spent a few tense days in hospital with him while he had his upper arm wired back together. During my stay I was able to witness the workings of a large hospital and I couldn’t help but take an interest in their information systems and processes.
I don’t know how often an Area Health Service has its technical infrastructure reviewed nor when it was last completed but I would find it interesting to know what the findings and recommendations were.
Quite frankly what I saw was archaic, inefficient and created a stressful work environment.
Just one example that I had at a previous hospital visit was waiting for an ultrasound. There was a few ultrasound machines free and technicians available but we had to wait until a particular machine was free.

Researchers want access to personal e-health records

RESEARCHERS want access to information stored on personal e-health records so they can improve health outcomes.
Maximising use of the personally controlled e-health record system for research purposes “is fundamental to improving health outcomes”, Medicines Australia says.
The pharmaceutical industry body has been given some assurances over the conduct of clinical research involving voluntary patient participation in the PCEHR Bill introduced into Parliament by Health Minister Nicola Roxon last week.
The bill is intended to support the launch of the $500 million national health records system on July 1 next year, and was immediately referred to the Senate Community Affairs committee for a broad-ranging public inquiry.

Queensland Health considers data warehouse, BI pilot

Queensland Health is to begin piloting a new mental health data warehouse and business intelligence application as part of a wider push by the Queensland government to support mental health information management.
The project, formerly called the Integrated Mental Health Data Reporting Repository (IMHDRR), will address inefficiencies within the existing Queensland Health system that are associated with linking general health, mental health, human resources and costing data.
It will also help address the need for a business intelligence capability that's able to facilitate service planning, evaluation and the enhancement of an evidence base to support clinical practice.

E-health records liability raised

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • December 02, 2011 5:36AM
MEDICAL defence groups warn that increased legal liability for doctors maintaining e-health records on behalf of patients "is a major disincentive" to participation.
Enabling legislation supporting the Gillard government’s $500 million personally controlled e-health record system is to be scrutinised during a public inquiry conducted by the Senate Community Affairs committee.
The Community Affairs committee has called for submissions from any interested parties by January 12; it is due to report by February 29.
Australia’s largest medical indemnity insurer, the Avant Mutual Group, says an “unknown number of health providers will be relying on shared health summaries” prepared by the nominated provider, usually a GP.

Clear e-health compliance laws a must: IDC

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • December 02, 2011 6:18AM
MARKET analyst IDC warns of the need for clearer compliance laws for healthcare records, and says Australia will set the standard for the region.
Sash Mukherjee, senior analyst for IDC Health Insights Asia/Pacific, says the region has experienced dynamic growth in health IT spending in the past year, but laws relating to data security, privacy and access have not been updated to reflect the new realities.
“In fact, there are no laws specific to health records in most countries in the region,” he said.
“As Australia’s personally controlled e-health record project develops, citizens’ health records will be taken out of the traditional, controlled environments.
“As such, there is a need for clearer compliance laws.”

Additional specifications released

2 December 2011. Additional specifications for the eHealth records system set to launch nationally on 1 July 2012 have now been posted on the new Software Developers Resource Centre.
The new portal was launched in November by the Department of Health and Ageing and NEHTA and is an important means for communication and sharing of information with software vendors working on the personally controlled electronic health records system.
The additional specifications released include the Specialist Letter Solution, Discharge Summary Solution and Shared Health Summary Solution.
Software vendors and developers can access the resource centre via
The Specifications and Standards Plan, outlining the timeframes and process for the release of specifications and standards, can be accessed from

Medibank weighs in on e-health records scheme

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • December 02, 2011 5:49AM
MEDIBANK has called on the Gillard government to consider the workload impact on medical providers as it rolls out the personally controlled e-health records system.
“Creating and maintaining records for patients for the PCEHR and the training required will necessitate a significant investment of time from healthcare providers and this needs to be factored in, particularly as it may have unforeseen implications in the short-term for the delivery of health services,” it says in a submission on the draft bill.
“Recognising that failure to consult sufficiently with health professionals was one of the signatory reasons for the failure of the e-health system in the UK, this mistake needs to be avoided in the Australian context.”

Nation's states win bigger e-health role

THE Gillard government agreed to give the states and territories a bigger role in managing personally controlled e-health records to gain their consent for enabling legislation for the $500 million program.
Health ministers signed off on the final legislation at a meeting of the Standing Council of Health on November 11.
Minutes show there had been "major changes and redrafting for better clarity" following consultations between governments. Each state and territory will have automatic membership of the advisory committee established to help manage the program.

Pharmacy Guild prescribes fixes for PCEHR operating arrangements

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • December 01, 2011 12:00AM
THE Pharmacy Guild will not support the rollout of personally controlled e-health records unless key concerns are finalised before the system is operational.
It warns that the guild “cannot fully support the continued development and implementation of the PCEHR until such time as it is satisfied that the operating rules are satisfactory and do not contravene patient safety, software vendor liability or pharmacy reputation”.
“The guild is greatly concerned that the appropriate governance framework is yet to be determined and that the Health Department Secretary will fulfil the role of system operator,” it says in a submission on the draft PCEHR bill.
“Governance of such an important system should not be vested in a single person who may or may not choose to follow advice from the (proposed) jurisdictional advisory committee and the independent advisory council.”

Telemonitoring trial points to GP future

29th Nov 2011
A TRIAL program delivering in-home telemonitoring technology connecting chronically ill veterans with their GPs and healthcare teams, set to begin next year, could signal the future of general practice.
The $8 million trial, announced today by Veterans’ Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon and Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, will involve about 300 veterans living in areas of NSW, WA, Queensland and Tasmania connected to the National Broadband Network.
Senator Conroy said the trial would assess the benefits of telemonitoring services and aim to develop a model that could be more widely adopted.

Federal Govt flags e-health trial for chronically ill veterans

The $8 million project will enable 300 chronically ill veterans from NBN connected areas to have their health monitored from home
The Federal Government has flagged a trial of in-house telemonitoring technology for chronically ill veterans via the National Broadband Network (NBN), kicking off in July 2012.
Both the veterans’ affairs minister, Warren Snowdon, and communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the $8 million project which will enable 300 chronically ill veterans, from NBN connected areas in Toowoomba, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Mandurah and Geraldton to have their health monitored without leaving their home.
“Vital statistics will be monitored from home and veterans will also have access to high definition video consultations with their GP or nurse coordinator when required,” Snowden said in a statement.

NEHTA licenses CSIRO software for e-health rollout

The software will aid the transition to a standardised dictionary of clinical terms
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has licensed software from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to aid the move to a standardised dictionary of clinical terms as part of the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project.
The $467 million project involves the establishment of a PCEHR system that encompasses patient health summaries which both patients and their healthcare providers can access by 1 July 2012.
Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) chief executive, David Hansen, told Computerworld Australia that the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and NEHTA would soon require healthcare software vendors to make the transition to SNOMED CT, a clinical terminology which encompasses a group of terms that would underpin the PCEHR going forward.

CSIRO software tapped for e-health transition

Translating records in a snap
CSIRO has announced that it is to supply software to Australia’s National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to support the transition to Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records.
Its Snapper software is designed to help translate old health records into the standard terminology used in e-health systems, known as SNOMET CT.
According to the CEO of the Australian E-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), Dr David Hansen, there’s still a lot of non-standard records out there. “Most existing electronic systems do not use the SNOMED CT dictionary, but a mix of existing standard and local data dictionaries,” he said. “The Snapper tool helps to translate terms in the existing system to terms from SNOMED CT.”

Australia's eHealth record a security 'disaster'

AusCERT chief warns of need for new approach.

One of Australia's most respected security professionals has warned that the Federal Government project to give citizens access to an electronic health record will lead to rampant fraud and privacy abuses.
Graham Ingram, general manager of infosec emergency response centre AusCERT told the Security on the Move conference in Sydney that the personally-controlled electronic health record project keeps him awake at night.
"E-Health worries me significantly," he told the conference, after explaining that his not-for-profit organisation is usually employed as the fire brigade to "put out the flames" after a breach incident.

Gemma Collins: Uncertainty hangs over the AGPN conference

It was the first GP Network Forum since the divisions began their transformation into the long-awaited Medicare Locals.
So surely we could expect the four-day AGPN conference in Melbourne to give members of the divisions the chance to discuss their plans for their areas and hear from those people in high places what they can expect in the future?
But after years of discussions about the planned 62 Medicare Locals, the four day conference just proved that everyone is still awaiting the answers to their much anticipated questions.
How are these organisations going to be run? How much funding will they be receiving? Where will this funding come from? Will it be fee-for-service or fund holding? And most importantly – what is it all going to mean for after hours care?

$1.4m to restart Standards Australia's e-health work program

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 30, 2011 12:00AM
STANDARDS Australia has been paid $1.4 million to restart work on technology specifications needed for the $500 million personal e-health record system due to launch next year.
Voluntary members of Standards Australia's expert health IT committees were forced to halt work after the Health Department cut funds in June.
As in previous years, the department has allocated funds for the organisation's work in relation to establishing standards needed for the personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system.
Standards Australia received the new funding in September, and the current grant runs to the end of June next year.

Victoria slams e-health consultation

VICTORIA has taken a massive swipe at the Gillard government, saying the state had expected to approve legislation for the $500 million electronic patient record system before its introduction to federal parliament.
Victoria's Health Minister, David Davis, said federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon had jumped the gun, as funding for the states to adopt the system and key governance arrangements is yet to be hammered out.
Ms Roxon tabled the Personally Controlled E-Health Record Bill and a separate related regulations bill in the Lower House on Wednesday, after rushed consultations on an exposure draft issued on September 30.

Cohen brother sues iSoft for over $1.4m

By Luke Hopewell, on November 28th, 2011
Brian Cohen, the brother of iSoft founder Gary Cohen, is suing the healthcare services company to the tune of over $1.4 million, following an alleged breach of his employment contract during his stint as the company's chief technology officer.
Court documents obtained by ZDNet Australia reveal that Brian Cohen is suing iSoft's Australian and Asian unit under provisions set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (PDF). The suit sees Brian Cohen seeking $1,445,885.84 in unpaid remuneration, long-service leave, contract allowances and retention payments, as well as costs and interest.

Former iSoft CTO claims $1.4m contract breach

By James Hutchinson on Nov 29, 2011 9:36 AM

Unpaid annual leave, long service pay.

Former iSoft chief technology officer Brian Cohen has filed court proceedings against the e-health software vendor for an alleged breach of contract, claiming $1.45 million in unpaid annual leave, redundancy, long service and other payments.
Cohen alleged he was due $409,109 in damages for an allegedly unpaid redundancy package and a further $725,238 for failing to provide proper notice for his termination this year.
Further costs were also claimed for long service leave, underpayment and an unpaid retention payment.
In court documents filed last month, Cohen alleged iSoft breached agreed employment contracts between 2000 and 2010 while he was employed as chief technology officer at IBA Health and subsequently iSoft.

Electronic medication management heralds new era in patient safety and staff development at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem

Monday, November 28, 2011 - iSOFT a CSC Company  
The Little Company of Mary Health Care (LCMHC) group is in the final stages of rolling out iSOFT MedChart, an electronic medication management system, at the first of the group’s hospitals and hospices.
Sydney, NSW - Calvary Health Care Bethlehem is in the final stage of a progressive rollout of MedChart, an electronic prescribing, medication management and administration system from iSOFT, a CSC company. In addition to improving medication safety, the rollout marks a major milestone on the journey toward an electronic medical record (EMR) for the hospice.
A leader in palliative and neurological care services, Calvary Health Care Bethlehem, part of the Little Company of Mary Health Care (LCMHC) group known as Calvary, is a 70-bed hospice located in South Caulfield, Victoria.
Describing Calvary’s new electronic medication management implementation as leading the hospital into the 21st century, Mark Heenan, a senior nurse at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem, says “this is a new era in patient safety and staff development.”

Information Commissioner calls for Privacy Act changes

Telcos wary of changes to the Privacy Act despite Commissioner's call for additional ways of protecting individuals’ privacy in Australia
  • Tim Lohman (Computerworld)
  • 30 November, 2011 12:02
The Information Commissioner has called for the updating of the national Privacy Act, including the introduction of mandatory data breach laws, to cope with the impact of technology on the privacy of Australians.
In a submission on the government’s Issues Paper investigating changes to the Privacy Act (PDF) the Commissioner said recent developments in technology mean that additional ways of protecting individuals’ privacy should be considered in Australia.
“[The OAIC] considers recent developments in technology mean that consideration should be given to providing for additional ways of protecting individuals’ privacy in Australia,” the submission reads.

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