Monday, September 10, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 10th September, 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

All sorts of stuff happening this week:
The NEHRS gets its first clinical record, computers will save the oldies from dementia but won’t save a huge number of Qld Health jobs whose loss is blamed on the Health Payroll debacle. A bit harsh I must say!
Despite all this - the news regarding HL7 is really the biggie of the week by a long shot in comparison. I wonder how it will finally play out with ongoing support etc?
Lastly we have the world’s first interstellar traveller heading off out there! Really astonishing and a reminder - maybe - of rather more hopeful times.

Computer users at less risk of dementia, study finds

3rd Sep 2012
OLDER men who use computers have a decreased risk of dementia independent of age, education, depression and other factors, Australian research suggests.
The study of 5506 Perth men aged 69 to 87 from the Health In Men Study examined their computer use and diagnosis of dementia, recorded by the Western Australian Data Linkage System.
One-third (33.7%) reported using computers and 6.3% had a diagnosis of dementia during an average follow-up of six years.

Brisbane GP first to use PCEHR system

7 September, 2012 Paul Smith
More than a billion dollars have been spent to allow Dr Suzanne Williams to press buttons on her keyboard and send a list of diagnoses and medications into the virtual ether.
Last Wednesday the Brisbane GP, became the first GP in the country to upload a clinical document onto the much-vaunted, much-criticised Personally Controlled E-Health Record (PCEHR) system.
It marks the system’s launch into real-world medicine at a time when GP software is being upgraded for doctors to generate the shared health summaries that will form the backbone of the billion-dollar reform.
Dr Williams, who works at the Inala Primary Care clinic in Brisbane, said: “I’m pleased to be part of the whole PCEHR. I suppose I’m less excited about uploading the first health summary than what is going to happen in the future when I’ve done the first 100, the first 200 records, and they are part of bigger system.”
She added: “It is the patients with chronic disease who are likely to gain most — those patients attending multiple doctors, multiple practices.

Inala connects to cloud

Kiri Ten Dolle | 3rd September 2012 3:48 PM
AN INALA medical practice is the first in Australia to connect to the eHealth system where patients' records will be stored electronically in a secure online cloud.
Inala Primary Care, on Wirraway Pde, uploaded its first patient record last week marking the start of a major milestone for the nation's healthcare system.
General manager Tracy Johnson said the new online system would increase processing time and eliminate any confusion or doubling up which costs the health system time and money.
"We participated in some pilot work to help generate what the network should look like and trialled the system," Ms Johnson said.
"Majority of our patients have multiple diseases and that's why we were selected to take part.

First clinical document added to PCEHR

A general practitioner in Brisbane has become the first clinician to create and upload a clinical document to the personally controlled electronic health record system.
 According to a statement released by software vendor Health Industry Exchange (HIE), Dr Suzanne Williams from Inala Primary Care used HIE’s Companion application and Best Practice software to write up a patient’s Shared Health Summary and save it to his eHealth record.
The Companion application was last week granted PCEHR Production Access by the Department of Health and Ageing following completion of Conformance and Accreditation requirements.

Document proves defects in e-health

THE national e-health system was riddled with critical or high-severity defects just days before its launch, casting doubts on the Gillard government's claims that it was pushed live without faults.
The Australian can reveal that the personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) system, which was taken offline for more than 24 hours for maintenance at the weekend, was affected by 68 critical and high-severity bugs.
Although the government has stood by its insistence that the system was fault-free when it was launched on July 1, the decision to go live was made despite warnings from its own e-health agency, the National E-Health Transition Authority.

Govt accused of ignoring e-health warnings

4th Sep 2012
THE federal opposition has accused Labor of putting "political spin before patient safety" after claims it ignored its own e-health agency’s warning of critical faults in the e-health system just days before its launch.
Shadow parliamentary secretary for primary healthcare Dr Andrew Southcott accused Health Minister Tanya Plibersek of ignoring advice from the same body the government employed to develop and implement the personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR). 

PCEHR defective at launch: media reports

4 September, 2012 Sarah Colyer
The Federal Government ignored advice from the National E-Health Transition Authority about substantial defects with the e-health records system in the days before launching the scheme, it has been claimed.
The Australian newspaper reported on Tuesday that NEHTA advised the government to “postpone the 1 July go-live delivery date” in an internal document prepared just seven days before the 1 July launch of the scheme.
“With a total of 68 open severity 1 & 2 defects that are Category 1 functionality, and with one week remaining till 1 July go-live, it is highly likely that the system will go live with a high volume of defects that includes Severity 2 defects,” the e-health tests results memo said.

Telerheumatology: an idea whose time has come

  1. Lynden J Roberts*,
  2. Elizabeth G LaMont Research Officer1,
  3. Irwin Lim Rheumatologist & Director2,
  4. Sabe Sabesan Director of Medical Oncology3,
  5. Claire Barrett Visiting Medical Officer4
DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2012.02931.x


Australia is a vast country with one-third of the population living outside capital cities. Providing specialist rheumatologist services to regional, rural, and remote Australians has generally required expensive and time-consuming travel for the patient and/or specialist. As a result, access to specialist care for remote Australians is poor. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common disease, but like many rheumatic diseases, it is complex to treat. Time-dependent joint damage and disability occur unless best evidence care is implemented. The relatively poor access to rheumatologist care allotted to non-metropolitan Australians therefore represents a significant cause of potentially preventable disability in Australia.

Feds forge ahead with $8m telehealth trial

The federal government has released details of its plans for the national $8 million In-Home Telemonitoring for Veterans Trial, and gone to market to find a technology and services supplier for the project.
First announced in late 2011, the stated purpose of the trial is to see whether in-home monitoring and videoconferencing can improve the health outcomes and achieve quality of care for Veterans alongside pre-existing health services.

GPs' database misses abusers

A Medicare Australia database monitoring patients’ prescriptions that is available to GPs may not be effective in identifying “doctor shoppers”, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia believes.
A Guild spokesperson told Pharmacy News the Prescription Shopping Program, does not take into account patients who get drugs on private scripts.
“The shortcoming in the scheme referred to is that it does not include private scripts,” the Guild spokesperson said.
“Many illicit users of these products know to get prescriptions as private prescriptions from doctors so that this system does not pick them up.” 

New 'world first' home telehealth solution

Published on Tue, 04/09/2012, 04:35:02
By Stephen Easton
A leading telehealth vendor has demonstrated a new high definition, multi-user telehealth video conferencing system that combines with vital signs monitoring and requires no special software to run.
Tunstall Australasia has claimed the demonstration of the new telehealth solution at the 2012 Australian Telehealth Conference in Melbourne last week as a “world first” and a “monumental achievement”.
From the conference hall in a Melbourne hotel, Dr Kevin Arlett and Dr Karen Carlisle spoke with diabetes care coordinator Julie Randall, who was located at the Townsville Mackay Medicare Local office, as well as her patient Heather, who was elsewhere in Townsville.

National Health Data Dictionary 2012 version 16

released: 6 Sep 2012 author: AIHW
The National Health Data Dictionary provides national standards for the broader health sector. This update reflects changes to data standards between 1 July 2010 and 30 April 2012. During this time 10 data set specifications, 23 data element clusters, 177 data elements, one classification and 20 glossary items have been added. Twelve national minimum data sets, two data set specifications, 96 data elements, five classifications and three glossary items have been superseded, and three national standards have been retired since version 15 of the NHDD was published.
ISSN 1329-4555; ISBN 978-1-74249-337-4; Cat. no. HWI 119; 3590pp.; Internet Only

HL7 IP to be free to use

Posted on September 4, 2012 by Grahame Grieve
Today, the HL7 Board of Directors committed to licensing its standards and other selected HL7 intellectual property free of charge. This policy is consistent with HL7’s vision of making our collaborative and consensus-driven standards the most widely used in healthcare, and with our mission of achieving interoperability in ways that put the needs of our stakeholders first. Our primary aim is to maximize benefits to our members, the healthcare community, and all those who have contributed to make HL7 standards so successful.

HL7 e-health information-sharing standard to be free

Group hopes removing fee will encourage adoption of HL7 standards
For 25 years, hospitals and clinics have had to pay an annual membership fee of as much as $1,200 to legally use the most popular set of standards for the electronic exchange of health information.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit organization responsible for developing those standards, Health Level Seven International, said its intellectual property will be free to use, beginning in the first quarter of 2013 .

OAIC: Are our eHealth breach requirements enough?

Summary: The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has drafted its guide on how eHealth service providers must respond to data breaches, and is seeking public comment to ensure nothing is missed.
By Michael Lee | September 4, 2012 -- 02:33 GMT (12:33 AEST)
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has released its draft guide (PDF) on how mandatory data breach notifications should be handled under the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, and is once again polling the public on whether its approach to the issue is adequate.
The draft guide states that organisations dealing with eHealth records must notify the System Operator (SO) — currently, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing — and the OAIC, as soon as they are aware of a data breach occurring. The SO is the only entity that is permitted to inform customers of the breach.

$55k fines for not reporting PCEHR data breaches

5 September, 2012
Mandatory reporting rules will apply to PCEHR data breaches, with practices and other operators of data repositories facing fines of up to $55,000 if they fail to report unauthorised access to information in a patient’s e-health record.
New guidelines released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) state that e-health data repository operators must report all potential data breaches, even if they do not seem serious.
Failure to report may incur a penalty of $11,000 for an individual and up to $55,000 for a body corporate.

GP feedback wanted on draft social media policy

7th Sep 2012
AHPRA has called for feedback on a draft policy for practitioners’ use of social media warning them about the legal and professional implications of making comments about patients in the public domain.
The Social Media Policy sets out standards for use of websites, social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, microblogs such as Twitter, content sharing platforms like YouTube and Instagram, as well as discussion forums and message boards.

Qld Health axes 1,500 jobs, blames payroll system failure

Summary: Queensland Heath has blamed over half of its recently announced redundancies on the former government's bungled payroll system.
By Michael Lee | September 7, 2012 -- 06:58 GMT (16:58 AEST)
From the announcement this morning that 2,754 jobs are to be cut from Queensland Health, the Liberal government has blamed more than half of them on the previously bungled health payroll system project of the former Labor government.
Outlining the reform via a video address this morning, Queensland Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg said that the situation could have been much worse.
"Queensland Health was staring down the barrel of statewide FTE reductions of 4,142. But at the end of this process, that monetary target will be achieved, with an overall staff reduction of just 4 percent, or 2,754 FTE."

Guild to get clearer picture with e-census

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia launched the first major census of community pharmacy in Australia since 2006, this week. 
The census, comprising around 40 detailed questions, is now online for the first time. The Guild is urging all community pharmacies to take part in the census because of the importance of having up-to-date data on our industry. 
The data will be used to populate, which is used by over 20 health and patient support groups to access the availability of pharmacy services. In addition the availability of current data on community pharmacy is an essential ingredient of effective advocacy at all levels of government. 

Bionic Vision's fears on funding

AUSTRALIA'S attempt to become a force in the bionic-eye market is facing uncertainty, with neither side of federal politics prepared to commit to fund the technology through crucial development phases.
The consortium behind the project to develop Australia's first commercially viable bionic eye, Bionic Vision Australia, last week revealed that it had completed its first successful implant.
However, BVA is still at least three years away from being able to approach private investors for commercial funding and its federal grant runs out at the end of next year.

Legal risks in medical phone photos

THE burgeoning use of smartphones to take medical photos of patients has highlighted a growing problem of possibly illegal use of personal data and a lack of hospital policies to control it.
A Perspectives article in this week’s MJA says a “click first, care second” culture was developing because of a failure to properly manage the problem, which could lead to a “trampling of patients’ dignity”. (1)
The article, based on an honours thesis in which RMIT science student Kara Burns examined clinicians’ compliance with hospital consent policy when taking medical photographs, said the practice raised the “spectre of medical malpractice litigation”.

Smartphones and tablets now indispensable for doctors

31 August, 2012 Michael Woodhead
Almost all medical students and young doctors now rely on smartphones for information and communication needs in their daily working life, a new study shows.
More than 90% of young doctors surveyed by Canadian researchers said they owned smartphones or tablet devices such as iPhones and iPads, and used them daily for medical purposes.
The commonest uses were for “looking stuff up”, such as drug dosages, textbooks and medical calculators. Trainee doctors also found mobile devices useful for accessing online lectures and podcasts and used their devices for note taking, according to the study results published in BMJ Open.

Roxon edges toward keeping online data for two years

Date September 4, 2012

Dylan Welch, Ben Grubb, Bianca Hall and Lucy Battersby

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon appears to have swung her support behind a controversial plan to capture the online data of all Australians, despite only six weeks ago saying ''the case had yet to be made'' for the policy.
The data retention plan - which would force all Australian telcos and internet service providers to store the online data of all Australians for up to two years - is the most controversial element of a package of more than 40 proposed changes to national security legislation.
If passed, the proposals would be the most significant expansion of national security powers since the Howard-era reforms of the early 2000s.

Digital history could be lost forever due to changing devices, says expert

  • By Claire Connelly, National technology and social media journalist
  • News Limited Network
  • September 07, 2012 12:00AM
HISTORIANS will be facing a black hole when it comes to studying the 20th and 21st centuries because much of our digital history is stored on technology that no longer have devices to read them, experts claim.
The information stored on everything from floppy disks to CDs, mobile phones to cameras is at risk of being lost forever, Canadian information security consultant Robert Slade told News Ltd.
"There was a sci-fi story from years ago about how all the knowledge in the universe was put into a huge storage library and then it got lost because nobody knew how to access it," Mr Slade said.

Robotics helping the disabled to gain freedom

CAN a totally immobile person remotely drive a robot down a street and experience independent virtual travel? Could they, through their robot avatar, turn up at a job? Yes, they can -- and it's due to groundbreaking work by former journalist, war correspondent and TV news anchor Peter Ford.
Mr Ford, a former CNN, NBC and Seven Network news anchor and journalist, has spent three decades pursuing a second career developing micro systems that let severely paralysed users communicate, manoeuvre wheelchairs and operate computer keyboards by picking up the electric impulses responsible for muscle movements.
Now, he is extending it to driving robots.
"My main job was news anchor at CNN and we were launching what became CNN headline news but I was moonlighting at this lab run by the (US) Veterans Administration," he said.

Government IT system likened to '1972 Ford Falcon clunker' needing up to $6 billion in repairs

Date: September 3, 2012

Marissa Calligeros reporter

It would cost up to $6 billion to fix nearly 1000 outdated state government IT systems that have not been maintained for years, an interim audit report has shown.
We've got an incredibly serious problem on our hands that could cost up to $6 billion to fix 
Information Technology Minister Ros Bates said the interim results from a $5.2 million audit of the government's IT systems, due to be issued later this week, had revealed 997 applications were not replaced by the previous Labor government when needed.

DNA data unlocks map to genetic disease

  • From: AFP
  • September 06, 2012 9:54AM
A massive DNA database has generated a map of the genetic switches which impact everything from hair loss to cancer and opened the door to revolutionary treatments for a host of deadly diseases, researchers say.
``This is a major step toward understanding the wiring diagram of a human being,'' said lead researcher Michael Snyder of Stanford University.
The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements - or ENCODE - has enabled scientists to assign specific biological functions for 80 per cent of the human genome and has helped explain how genetic variants affect a person's susceptibility to disease.
September 3, 2012 12:06 am

Quantum chip breakthrough to be unveiled

By Ling Ge and Clive Cookson
Scientists have built a new quantum chip that will enable the creation of completely secure mobile phones and ultra-fast computers with capabilities far beyond today’s devices.
The international research team behind the breakthrough, who are based at the University of Bristol, will detail the development at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen this week.
In the short term, the team are applying the technology to safe communications for mobile phones and computers, which would make online banking and internet shopping more secure. Phones could be protected against hacking attempts.

Mankind's messenger at the final frontier

Date September 6, 2012 - 7:15AM
It looks like a dustbin lid strapped to a cluster of fishing rods. Its computer is so puny it could not even start up your iPhone. And if E.T. wants to listen to the message it brings, he'll need a gramophone to play it on.
But in the history of space exploration, there is not a probe that can touch the glittering career of Voyager 1, mankind's first messenger to the cosmos.
Thirty-five years after it was launched, the doughty explorer is on the brink of leaving the Solar System and heading into the deep chill of interstellar space.

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