Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 23rd January, 2012.

Here are a few I have come across the last week or so.
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

The biggest news of the week has been the release of what is now 33 submissions to the Senate Enquiry on the PCEHR. I suspect there are more to come as we have yet to hear from the AMA or any of the State Governments so far (as of Sunday 22/1)
Go here to read them.
I suspect the next few weeks are going to be very interesting with the Senate Enquiry and the new Federal Health Minister really getting down to work after the summer holidays.
There are all sorts of rumblings about further issues (delays and whatever) on the PCEHR so that front will deserve close watching.
Apparently we are moving into the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. I wonder what that presages for the year coming.
From one site we have this:
Chinese New Year is on 23rd Jan. 2012
“Expect this to be a very energetic year, filled with optimism, power and entrepreneurship. However, the year is of water dragon, which means that even the most powerful will give a patient hearing to the weaker, and will try to see through their point of view. Better alliances and decision will take place.”
Sounds hopeful!

Parents want to see health files

Andrew Tillett Canberra, The West Australian January 15, 2012, 8:46 am
A family group has attacked plans to allow children as young as 14 to stop their parents from accessing their personal electronic health records.
Patients will be given the option of signing up for the electronic records from July in one of the Gillard Government's key health reforms.
The records are designed to keep details of a patient's medical history together, making it easier for GPs, specialists and other health workers to share information, see past treatments and drug prescriptions and potentially reduce medical errors.

Australian Privacy Foundation slams e-health system

THE $500 million personally controlled e-health record system is a document viewing service, not a patient care system, and it is unclear whether any benefits will be available following its July 1 launch, the peak privacy body says.
"The Australian Privacy Foundation asks how the system, which cannot uniquely identify individuals and simply permits document transmission and viewing, will be used for patient care benefit at all," the APF says in its submission to the Senate inquiry into the PCEHR legislation and related matters.
"We question marketing efforts to convince patients and providers otherwise."
The APF says that neither the main bill nor the associated regulations detail what e-health services will actually be achieved by the launch date.

Personally controlled electronic health records bills introduced into parliament

From July 2012, Australians will have the opportunity to access their health records in a single view, where and when needed, and irrespective of the location of the consumer, healthcare provider or record.     
This is the first time that this type of service has been made available in Australia and it is set to transform how healthcare is delivered nationally.  The Australian Government has invested over $467 million in the first release of the system.  Health records will be collected from various existing repositories around the country, then uploaded to the consumer in a single view, if the consumer chooses. 
Key concerns arising from the system are the potential risks to an individual's privacy and the security of their health records.  In her second reading speech to parliament, the then Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, addressed the issue:
'Australians rightly do not want their privacy threatened.  They do not want one single massive data repository for all their records.  They also want the right to participate, but not be forced to do so.  That is why we are designing this project to take heed of privacy from the ground up. 
We are establishing new consent settings for sensitive information and auditing that does not currently exist for any individual's record.  It is how our system will strike the right balance between security and access.  Many of these protections are about ensuring that patients have the same protections over the access to digital records that they do over paper based records.'

E-Health vetting plan abandoned

THE Gillard government has abandoned any intention of creating an independent oversight body for the future operation of its controversial personally controlled e-health record system, due to launch on July 1.
Instead, the official operator of the $500m nationwide network will be the Secretary of the federal Health Department – mooted in legislation currently before parliament as an interim position until key governance issues can be resolved, including greater public accountability.
A broad range of bodies, including the Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Privacy Foundation, the Pharmacy Guild, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, the Medical Software Industry Association and individual vendors have called for the establishment of a broad-based new PCEHR governance structure.

Feds address PCEHR privacy issues

The federal government has begun addressing a series of key changes to the personally controlled electronic healthcare record in the wake of a privacy audit.
The audit, conducted by Minter Ellison Lawyers and Salinger Privacy, was completed at the end of 2011 and commissioned by the federal health department.
Of the 112 recommendations made for managing identified privacy risks, the government fully accepted 75, with a further 20 accepted in principle, and 6 accepted in part. A slim 8 recommendations made by the auditors were not accepted.

Healthcare identifier upgrade ordered for e-health record system

MEDICARE will be paid $34 million to upgrade the 18-month-old and still barely used Healthcare Identifier service to support the Gillard government's $500m personally controlled e-health record system.
The money will also allow Medicare to "build a PCEHR-conformant repository to potentially hold Medicare Benefits Schedule, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Australian Childhood Immunisation Register and Australian Organ Donation Register data".
The HI service, which cost $90m to build and was “launched” by former health minister Nicola Roxon on July 1, 2010, has lain largely idle due to a lack of interest from health providers. To date, it has only been used in limited pilot projects at sites trialling the PCEHR program.

Rush to deliver e-health eating $1m a day

THE Gillard government is "burning $1 million a day" to deliver its personally controlled electronic health record system on time and is sending coding work to India in the process.
The National E-Health Transition Authority head of PCEHR implementation, Andrew Howard, said the Accenture consortium was "on track" to deliver a key part of the program's national infrastructure by February 1.
That should set the scene for delivery of an operational system by the July 1 deadline, he said.

Plan forgets patients, says AMA

Ellen Lutton
January 22, 2012
ANNA BLIGH'S radical plan to abolish the maligned Queensland Health has been slammed by the Australian Medical Association of Queensland for ignoring basic patient services.
The Premier yesterday unveiled details of her government's plan in what she said was the largest decentralisation of the public sector in the state's history.
The shake-up was fast tracked after a former Queensland Health executive claiming to be a Tahitian prince embezzled more than $16 million from the department.

Doubts over opt-in e-health scheme

DOCTORS and consumer groups have warned that the federal government's $466 million scheme to introduce electronic health records this year is likely to be hobbled by low take-up rates, and have called for basic changes to keep the scheme on track.
 In a submission to a Senate inquiry on the legislation for the program, due for launch in July, the peak patient representative body says the current requirement for Australians to sign up to the personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) scheme - rather than be automatically enrolled unless they opt out - means "a large portion of the general public will not immediately sign up".
The Consumers Health Forum, one of several organisations that have lodged their comments on the draft laws, say the resulting low take-up "may result in a low level of confidence in the system and lack of critical mass to ensure its success".

NK v Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service (No. 2) [2011] NSWADT 81

This is the first time that the maximum award for compensatory damages has been made    
The ADT has ordered the respondent to pay $40,000 compensation to the applicant after an earlier decision ([2010] NSWADT 258) which found that the respondent had breached sections 16 and 17 of the PPIPA and numerous Health Privacy Principles (HPP) including:
  • HPP 3 - collection of information was to be from individual concerned;
  • HPP 4 - individual was to be informed of certain matters when their information was collected from a third party (in this case another hospital);
  • HPP 5  - the applicant's health information should have been kept secure, inaccurate information was provided by the nurse;
  • HPP 9  - officers of the respondent failed to check the accuracy of the information; and
  • HPP 10 - the applicant's health information was used for a purpose other than for which it was obtained and the nurse disclosed the information to the HR Manager without the applicant's consent.

Two-year delay on implant register

Amy Corderoy
January 20, 2012
THE federal government has been sitting on recommendations for nearly two years for a register which could accurately record who has been implanted with potentially faulty or dangerous medical devices such as the recalled breast implants.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said there is insufficient evidence to recommend Australian women with Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) implants have them removed as only 37 ruptures have been reported from more than 9000 implants - but it does not routinely collect information on faulty devices.
European countries have increasingly recommended women have the implants removed because of an increased rupture risk. The French PIP producer is accused of using an industrial rather than medical silicone, and its implants have been linked to a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

Real gains via virtual pastimes

VIDEO games generally get a bad press - think teens slumped over a screen rather than out playing sport - but some positive health-related benefits are emerging.
Exercise games played on Nintendo's Wii or Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox are getting elderly people up and moving at residences such as Berala on the Park, a private aged-care facility in Sydney's south.
Chief executive Linda Thomson says residents regularly compete in Wii bowling and tennis tournaments. "I have to admit the Wii sat in the box for a while, but it's well used now," she says.
What's more, there's even a tantalising chance the next generation of these interactive consoles will help reduce demand for scarce health and aged-care resources.
Melbourne 16 January 2012

Broadband solution to help meet health care’s “greatest challenge”

The treatment of chronic illness in Australia has taken a major leap forward today with the announcement that the Commonwealth will support

an online service for assisting doctors and patients to better manage diabetes.   
cdmNet, a new health care service delivered over the internet, was announced today as a key  IT infrastructure component for the Commonwealth’s Diabetes Care Project. The project is an element of the Australian Government’s efforts to reform the primary health care system and the treatment of Australians living with chronic illness.

Indigenous plea for NBN in remote areas

THE National Congress of Australia's First Peoples has demanded the National Broadband Network be rolled out to remote communities as a priority.
The taxpayer-funded Aboriginal body has also demanded that traditional welcome-to-country ceremonies be made a bigger practice for the commonwealth.
In its submission to Arts Minister Simon Crean's cultural policy review, the congress says it is concerned that emerging technologies are being applied in ways that are "not inclusive of all communities, in particular those which are disadvantaged by poverty and remoteness".
The submission warns that, if it continues, the situation will accentuate the gaps between Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.

Privacy Commissioner issues new Public Interest Determinations for the collection of health data

In Public Interest Determination (PID)12A, the Privacy Commissioner has given general effect to the specific PID 12 to allow doctors to collect health information about a third party, without the third party's consent, while PID 12 is in force (5 years from 11 December 2011). The purpose of the exempt practice is to enable the collection of information (normally from the patient about their family members) to compile a family, social and medical history for patients for the purpose of properly diagnosing and treating them.

Planck orbital observatory completes cosmic survey in search of 'Big Bang'

  • From: AFP
  • January 17, 2012 7:38AM
A 900-MILLION-dollar orbital observatory has completed the biggest-ever search for remnants of the "Big Bang" that created the Universe, the European Space Agency has said.
The main instrument on the Planck observatory failed on Saturday when -- as expected -- it ran out of coolant, ending a mission that had lasted twice its 15-month operational design, ESA said in a press release.
"Planck has been a wonderful mission; spacecraft and instruments have been performing outstandingly well, creating a treasure trove of scientific data for us to work with," Jan Tauber, the agency's chief scientist for the Planck project, said.

1 comment:

EA said...

One of the submissions is from Julian Fidge, who writes
And in fact, we already have state-based medical records for the mentally ill. Patients with a mental illness are recorded in a central database, and their health and well-being is improved by medical practitioners and mental health practitioners having access to their treatment plans.
Is that correct, anyone?