Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 20th February, 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

Really a quiet sort of week with a couple of highlights. The first is the first statement I have seen from the opposition on the PCEHR as reported by The comparison with ‘pink bats’ does not seem to bode all that well.
The other big issue is the re-emergence of the incentive issue for GPs to assist patients with their PCEHR. This story certainly has some way to run!
Enjoy a quiet week as we are meant to hear from the PCEHR Senate Enquiry next week!

Opposition votes for ehealth, slams PCEHR

The federal opposition has weighed into debate about the sector’s transformation, branding the $467 million Personally Controlled Electronic Healthcare Record (PCEHR) another example of the federal government’s “poorly implemented approach to blockbuster projects.”
Andrew Southcott, federal opposition spokesman on ehealth, told that while he supports the broader ehealth agenda, the PCEHR program was similar to other controversial Labor Government programs including the Building the Education Revolution and home insulation debacle.
Ehealth falls under Mr Southcott’s purview as shadow parliamentary secretary for primary healthcare. “Ehealth is an area where lots of money can be wasted, and we are starting to see some of the problems,” he said.

AGPN calls for PCEHR incentives

14 February, 2012 Michael Woodhead
Incentives are needed to support individual GPs, practices and Medicare Locals to get the PCEHR up and running by and beyond, July 2012, says AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic.

Cash for GPs’ e-health role on agenda

13 February, 2012 Paul Smith
The Federal Government is considering a new funding plan to assist general practices in developing the $467 million e-health records system, due to be rolled out from July.
There have been long-running concerns about the additional workload for GPs signing patients up and ensuring the clinical information on the records is up-to-date and accurate.
Those GPs who opt to take part will be expected to ensure patients give informed consent for their information to be uploaded onto the system.
They will also be expected to “curate” the clinical data that appears on the shared health summaries — the electronic documents detailing diagnoses, allergies and medications that will be made accessible across the health system.

PCEHR specification glitch identified: NEHTA

Written by Kate McDonald on 15 February 2012.
The technical issue that has held up the implementation of some components of the PCEHR has been resolved and is currently being tested before work restarts, the CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Peter Fleming, said.
Mr Fleming told a Senate Estimates committee hearing in Canberra today that the technical fault was discovered in one of the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) implementation guides.
He said there are 23 different bundles of specifications for each component of the PCEHR, and three different types of documents for each bundle. The error occurred when the Wave 2 sites were not given an updated version of some of the CDA specifications.

E-health specifications back in testing

By Josh Taylor, on February 16th, 2012
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is testing specifications and has almost recovered from its stumble that lead to it stopping e-health record trials, said NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming.
In January, NEHTA revealed that it had paused the implementation of primary care e-heath software at the e-health trial sites in North Brisbane, Melbourne, the Hunter, South Brisbane, Western Sydney, St Vincent's, Calvary, Cradle Coast, the Northern Territory and Mater. This pause was due to detected technical incompatibilities for specifications pushed out to the sites in November 2011.
Speaking in a Senate estimates hearing yesterday, Fleming said that the NEHTA was testing the revamped specification solution internally before pushing it out to the trial sites.

Remote GPs embrace telehealth benefits

Emma Connors
14 February, 2012
West Australian GP Mike Civil is a big believer in telehealth.
While some remain unconvinced taxpayers will ultimately get value for money from the $35.9 billion national broadband network, early adopters suggest remote medicine is an application with big potential.
Since last year GPs have been able to claim Medicare rebates and incentives for linking specialists with their patients via a video link if they are located in a rural, regional or outer metropolitan areas.
About $620 million over five years has been set aside to help encourage consultations over video links.

NSW government 'sitting on health report'

The computer system, known as FirstNet, continually makes hospital staff spend excessive time on data entry and is underfunded
  • AAP (AAP)
  • 13 February, 2012 09:15
The NSW government has come under attack for failing to release a report into problems with the computer system that runs emergency departments throughout the state.
The report by consultants Deloitte was obtained by Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws. It says the computer system, known as FirstNet, continually makes hospital staff spend excessive time on data entry and is chronically underfunded.
Staff are not adequately taught how to use the software and it does not provide an acceptable record of care received, according to the report.
"With some exceptions, FirstNet reporting is inadequate for effective governance of operations," the report states.

NSW government accused of dodgy software cover-up

FirstNet: the First State's deadest duck
The buggy FirstNet emergency department software has become the subject of a political argument in NSW.
In one of those paradoxes of democracy, an opposition which, in government, was responsible for a now-despised implementation is now using the IT project as a stick to beat a government which was in opposition when the system was chosen.
Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald obtained a report into the system by Deloitte, under a freedom of information request. It says the Deloitte report criticises FirstNet because it is:
- Is chronically under-funded;
- Produces inadequate records;
- Was unreliable in delivering messages, and did not provide alerts when messages failed to reach their destination; and
- Demanded excessive amounts of screen time from clinicians.

Death highlights need for script tracking

16 February, 2012 AAP
Moves to introduce a national real-time prescription monitoring system to stamp out "prescription shopping" have been backed by a Victorian coroner in the summing up of the death of a young man from prescription drugs.
The recommendation was made by Coroner John Olle at a summary inquest into the death of a Melbourne man who had visited 19 doctors and 32 pharmacies in the three years before he died from an overdose of prescribed morphine and diazepam in October 2009.
Mr Olle's comments come just days after Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced a $5 million national electronic records system to combat prescription drug abuse.

Calls for alcohol inclusion in drug monitoring system

17th Feb 2012
Mark O’Brien 
THE nationwide expansion of Tasmania’s controlled drug monitoring system has led to calls for the system to include alcohol sales in supermarkets, while a Victorian coroner has recommended the state government monitor the sale of all prescription drugs.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced this week the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs system developed by the Tasmanian government would be made available to doctors, pharmacists and state and territory health authorities across Australia from 1 July.
The $5 million system will monitor the prescribing and dispensing of addictive drugs in real time, allowing practitioners and administrators to immediately detect people suspected of trafficking in painkillers, forging prescriptions and ‘doctor-shopping’.

GPs tick real-time drug database

By Suzanne Tindal, on February 17th, 2012
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has patted Health Minister Tanya Plibersek on the back for announcing a new $5 million e-health system to counter prescription-drug abuse.
On the weekend, Plibersek announced that the Federal Government will fund an e-health database for doctors, pharmacists and state and territory health authorities, which will allow real-time monitoring of the prescription and consumption of addictive drugs. The database will be available from 1 July.
Health professionals will be able to access the database, which will contain prescription records, over a secure network, and detect whether a person suspected of trafficking painkillers, forging prescriptions or doctor shopping is seeking medication.

Medicines could be delivered by remote-controlled microchips in a 'Star Trek'-style program

  • From: AP
  • February 17, 2012 9:37AM
MEDICATION via remote-control instead of a shot? Scientists implanted microchips in seven women that did just that, oozing out the right dose of a bone-strengthening drug once a day without them even noticing.
Implanted medicine is a hot field, aiming to help patients better stick to their medications and to deliver those drugs straight to the body part that needs them.
But the study is believed to be the first attempt at using a wirelessly-controlled drug chip in people. If this early-stage testing eventually pans out, the idea is that doctors one day might program dose changes from afar with the push of a button, or time them for when the patient is sleeping to minimise side effects.
The implant initially is being studied to treat severe bone-thinning osteoporosis. But it could be filled with other types of medication, said co-inventor Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Andrew Took: Access essential for e-health cards

THE Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system to be introduced in Australia from 1 July is consumer-centric in its design.
Not only is it an opt-in model and a completely voluntary scheme, but consumers will be able to access all their health information stored on the PCEHR and, by setting advanced access controls, can exclude parts of their medical history from being accessed by treating practitioners.
Much has been said that unless we adopt an opt-out model, take up rates will be poor and the vision of better health outcomes for Australians will remain illusory.
Ideally, a consumer’s PCEHR will enhance their medical treatment by providing a consolidated summary of his or her health information. It does not — and never will — replace the doctor’s clinical records.

US and China may have to store our medical data

AUSTRALIAN medical research is to be boosted by the country's most powerful supercomputer, but there is rising concern that a shortage of mathematical and programming skills will eventually force discoveries and developments offshore.
The Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, based at Melbourne University, has signed a deal to acquire an IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer that will have the power of more than 20,000 desktop computers.
It will allow researchers to crunch the vast amounts of data generated in areas such as genetic coding to target and personalise treatments based on an individual's genetics.
But VLSCI director Peter Taylor said that while the hardware would come online, Australia faced a looming shortage of skilled mathematicians and programmers to guide the research, because too few students studied high-level maths at school and university.
In the future, he warned, the genetic information of Australians that would underpin the personalised medical treatments of the future could end up being mapped, analysed and kept in countries such as the US and China.

IBM supercomputer to boost health research in Victoria

The Blue Gene/Q supercomputer should be operational in June this year
The University of Melbourne (UoM) has acquired one of the world’s fastest and greenest supercomputers to help further the study of human diseases.
The IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer — expected to be operational in June this year — will provide 836 teraflops of processing power, which is the equivalent of more than 20,000 desktop computers.
The supercomputer will be installed at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI), which was established by the Victorian government in conjunction with UoM and the IBM Research Collaboratory for Life Sciences, in Melbourne for $100 million to advance biotechnology by enabling scientists to improve diagnostics, find new drug targets and refine treatments.
Feb. 17, 2012, 8:35 a.m. EST

MMRGlobal and VisiInc Sign Agreement to License MMR Australian Patent Portfolio on the Road to HIMSS

LOS ANGELES, CA, Feb 17, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- MMRGlobal, Inc. MMRF 0.00% ("MMR"), a leading provider of Personal Health Records ("PHR"), MyEsafeDepositBox storage solutions and electronic document management and imaging systems for healthcare professionals, today announced that the Company and VisiInc PLC in Australia signed an agreement to license MMR's Australian patents for "Method and System for Providing Online Medical Records" for use in MMR and Visi(TM) consumer and professional health IT products and services, including the MyMedicalRecords Personal Health Record. The Agreement calls for minimum performance royalty guarantees of nearly one million dollars. The Agreement also calls for VisiInc to start selling the services in Australia starting June 1, 2012. In addition, the Agreement contains an understanding allowing the companies to utilize each other's consumer and professional products and services. VisiInc is also seeking rights to sell MMR products in additional territories such as in Eastern Europe where VisiInc already does business.

Health Industry Exchange Case Study

Health Industry Exchange Case Study
Health Industry Exchange (HIE) achieved NeHTA’s Health Identifiers (HI) Compliance, Conformance and Accreditation via the KJ Ross NATA accredited ICT test laboratory for its ‘HIE Synch’ software. Download the PDF version of this case study here.


HIE aimed to be one of the first clinical information software systems vendor and developer, to obtain NeHTA’s HI Compliance, Conformance and Accreditation (CCA) via the K. J. Ross & Associates (KJ Ross) NATA Accredited Test Lab. HIE is an Australian company developing eHealth software infrastructure for the primary care sector. The company is the developer and vendor of ‘HIE Synch’ software, which is employed by health professionals and medical institutions, it was a critical requirement for HIE Ltd to have this software accredited to the NeHTA HI conformance specifications and Australian standard.


Anonymous said...

"Incentives are needed to support individual GPs, practices and Medicare Locals to get the PCEHR up and running by and beyond, July 2012, says AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic."

Rubbish. He doesn't know what he is talking about. It is quite pathetic and irresponsible to hear such a call like this being made when it is perfectly clear that no matter how large and attractive the incentives Dr Djakic is calling for they will not do anything to move the PCEHR forward in its current state. He should know better than to come out with such an ill-informed, self serving, call as that. Shame.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that this is the answer to your question:

There is a lot of money to be made by ignoring the fact that the plans are a joke and just saying "Yes Minister" its all great but it will cost several hundred million for us to implement it just the way you say you want it. If it doesn't work then that will be extra :-)

Paul Karen said...

Hi David
Here is a comment I posted on the MO website re the matter of GP incentives..

"" OK, so it's patient controlled...why don't we then get the patients to upload the information themselves in the first place [to save GPs time and money]? If the patient has the knowledge and ability to hide certain information from selected health practitioners by manipulating their own PCEHR, then surely they would have the savvy to do all the hard work on their own e-record from scratch.

PS. I loath to think how many patients will be freaked out when they see the asterisks next to their "near normal" pathology results uploaded by the pathology companies on their PCEHR.

On the other hand, I suppose it's better for us docs then - more money for us when the patient needs to make an appointment with us to explain the significance of the "near normal" results. Yay!!

Rather than GPs, we could then call ourselves "ASSes" (short for "Asterisk Scientific Specialists").

Just a thought...


And IMHO, only an ASS would take on the role of a PCEHR "nominated health provider". ""

Just my two cents worth..

Kind regards

Paul Karen.

Anonymous said...


MMRGlobal and VisiInc Sign Agreement to License MMR Australian Patent Portfolio on the Road to HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MMRGlobal Inc. (MMR) announced in a press release that the Company and VisiInc PLC in Australia signed an agreement to license MMR's Australian patents for "Method and System for Providing Online Medical Records" for use in MMR and Visi(TM) consumer and professional health IT products and services, including the MyMedicalRecords Personal Health Record.

MMRGlobal Inc., through its wholly-owned operating subsidiary, MyMedicalRecords, Inc. ("MMR"), provides secure and easy-to-use online Personal Health Records ("PHRs") and electronic safe deposit box storage solutions, serving consumers, healthcare professionals, employers, insurance companies, financial institutions, and professional organizations and affinity groups.

and data and samples from its FavId(R)/Specifid(TM) vaccine clinical trials for the treatment of B-Cell Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. To learn more about MMRGlobal, Inc. and its products, visit

Through its evolutionary Visi(TM) platform, VisiInc operates Vistime. Vistime is rapidly capturing global market share of major verticals such as Healthcare, Government, Engineering and Architecture, Mining, Oil & Gas, Exploration, Energy, Education, Advertising & Media and online Video Conferencing.

Anonymous said...

2/21/2012 09:13:00 AM said "MMRGlobal Inc., through its wholly-owned operating subsidiary, MyMedicalRecords, Inc. ("MMR")...."
.......... and where does it store your health, medical and personal information?

In Australia? OR Overseas?