Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 10th December, 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

This is the last week of the year for blog. We presently plan to have a restful Christmas and to just watch and wait to see what comes in 2013. Of course major breaking news will be covered where relevant.
Have a good break! After this week the blog will be back mid to late January.
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Top political issues of 2012

27th Nov 2012
We count down the major political issues of the year that was.
(See other 8 topics on the site)
2. Medicare Locals
AFTER the government’s budget decision to axe Practice Incentive Program payments for after-hours care and instead hand administration of after-hours funding over to individual Medicare Locals, peak GP groups complained the measure would jeopardise successful existing roster arrangements.
With the change due to come into effect from July next year, MO understands at least two metropolitan MLs plan to use the exact same modelling as Medicare to determine how much to give practices for after-hours service delivery.
However with the arrangements ultimately decided by each individual ML, questions remain over how existing services will be maintained or matched nationwide.
1. E-health
AFTER a controversy-marred build-up, the federal government’s Personally Controlled e-Health Records system launched on 1 July with little fanfare or functionality.
After much lobbying by peak doctors’ groups, the government finally agreed to allow GPs working on establishing the electronic records to bill Medicare for their time. However, with just 17,152 patient records established – as of 16 November – the impact of the initiative is yet to reach anything approaching the system’s 500,000 sign-up capacity.
Meanwhile, the government’s decision to limit rebates for telehealth consultations to locations deemed remote enough has been slammed by a number of now ineligible GPs, who have argued the scheme would provide significant benefit to their less well-off patients.
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AMA wants tight e-health software deadline extended

4th Dec 2012
THE AMA has called for a delay in changes to the e-health Practice Incentive Program (PIP) ahead of a February deadline for practices to have their software up to date.
By 1 February, all practices wanting to claim the e-PIP will have to have verified their software's compliance, a deadline the AMA said was too narrow for many.
NeHTA last week confirmed an online application process for practices to apply for Department of Human Services National Authentication Service for Health – known as HPI-O certificates and which provide validation that a practice's software is compliant with the requirements – would not include the newly expanded terms and conditions until 10 December.
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Getting ready for the PIP eHealth incentive and PCEHR

30/11/2012
The AMA has developed a PIP eHealth and PCEHR checklist to assist members and their practices to prepare for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) eHealth incentives and the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).
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New app helps you locate a doctor wherever you are

A summer holiday with a child who falls ill can make even the most relaxed parent groan. But a new website and smartphone app now shows you the way to the nearest GP or after-hours pharmacy with just a few taps on a screen.
6 December 2012
A summer holiday with a child who falls ill can make even the most relaxed parent groan. But a new website and smartphone app now shows you the way to the nearest GP or after-hours pharmacy with just a few taps on a screen.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek today launched a $4.9 million internet directory which shows the addresses, opening times and phone numbers of GP clinics, pharmacies, emergency departments and hospitals in towns and cities across Australia.
Ms Plibersek said the National Health Services Directory was a free service developed to provide patients accurate information about local health services wherever they are, whenever they want.
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Health services go mobile

The Federal Government has launched a smartphone app that enables users to find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency departments Australia-wide
A new website and smartphone application enables users to find their nearest doctor, after-hours pharmacy, hospital and emergency department in towns and cities across Australia, federal health minister Tanya Pilbersek announced yesterday.
The government spent $4.9 million developing the National Health Services Directory at www.nhsd.com.au, which enables users to search for the addresses, phone numbers and opening times of health services, particularly when they are in an unfamiliar area.
The public can use a web-connected PC or download the app onto an Apple iPhone or Android device. Once a location is entered into the directory, services are listed and their locations can be viewed on Google Maps, making them easy to find.
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Now Qld Health bungles e-health program

blog It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the ongoing billion dollar disaster that is Queensland Health’s payroll systems overhaul, but news has emerged that the department is also suffering problems with its electronic health program, with the first two tranches of the initiative being at least two years late. The news comes care of a report published last week by the state’s long-suffering Auditor-General (PDF), who, it must be said, has seen this kind of thing many times before. Some sample paragraphs:
“The eHealth Program was to be implemented in two tranches of work, over a four year period commencing in 2007-08, at an initial cost of $401 million.
The implementation of the specialist clinical and administrative systems (Tranche 1) is over two years behind schedule because of unforeseen problems with procurement, contract establishment, systems testing, and recruitment and retention of staff. Half of the Tranche 1 systems have been fully implemented, and significant progress made on the remainder. The balance of work is due to be completed by June 2013.
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GP visits rise with e-health access

4 December, 2012 Paul Smith
Giving patients online access to their medical records significantly increases visits they make to doctors and EDs, as well as increasing their hospitalisation rates, a major study finds.
It is not clear whether increased visits improved overall health outcomes but the study — published in the Journal of the American Medical Association — raises questions as to whether Australia's billion-dollar personally controlled electronic health record system will trigger increased demand on health resources, including GP services.
Researchers tracked more than 80,000 patients both with and without online access to their health records, which included test results, immunisation records, medications, medical problems and care plans.
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Patients at risk from lacking e-health regulation

7th Dec 2012
LEADING e-health experts have called for greater regulation for e-health systems and software in Australia, warning that incidences of IT-related patient harm are growing as hospitals and GPs adopt more electronic health practices.
Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at University of NSW Professor Enrico Coiera told MO the recent accidental deletion of 10-year-old Ezekiel Howard’s electronically stored heart scans and similar scans on other patients’ hearts at Nepean Hospital happened often in Australia.
The centre has been analysing accidents involving patient health information technology in the US, and has begun to collate data from Australian hospitals and general practices which it hopes to publish early next year.
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Meds compliance boost via new portal

3 December, 2012 Chris Brooker
Plans to develop the first ever consumer-facing portal that integrates a range of medicine compliance services and allows patients to easily find the program best suited to them have been revealed to industry stakeholders.
The service, called freepatientsupport.com, allows patients to search, select and connect with support programs that can help them maximise the health benefits from their medications by facilitating compliance.
The program was developed by health entrepreneur Michael Clayton, who has been involved in developing consumer health communications for a number of years.
He is set to launch the program in the light of international research that shows non-adherence is a leading cause of preventable morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. Avoidable hospital admissions due to non-compliance are also estimated to cost the Australian health system $660 million per year.
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FHIR Webinar – reference and additional answers

Posted on December 7, 2012 by Grahame Grieve
This week I did a webinar on FHIR for HL7. They’ve posted the recording of it (2012 December 4 Ambassador Webinar: Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) (70.26 MB)), along with my slides (PDF version of the slides here).
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Power is just a heartbeat away

Date December 3, 2012

Roger Highfield

Scientists have found ways to generate electricity from the body's rhythms that could provide a vital source of energy.
Turning the human body into a power station sounds like a zany plot from the Matrix movies, but scientists are starting to take seriously the idea that one way to stem climate change might be to harvest tiny amounts of energy in the form of the body's heat, movement, metabolism and vibrations.
In one form of the technology, experts are turning to piezoelectricity, which means "electricity resulting from pressure". In a piezoelectric material, small amounts of power are generated when it is pushed out of shape. As an extraordinary example of what's now possible with these materials, the heart itself could be used to power an artificial pacemaker. Though these devices require only tiny amounts of power — one millionth of a watt — their batteries typically run out after a few years. But as Dr Amin Karami at the University of Michigan says, a pacemaker that harvests the energy of the heartbeat itself might operate for a lifetime. In a recent address to the American Heart Association in Los Angeles, he pointed out that a sliver of a piezoelectric ceramic one hundredth of an inch thick, powered by vibrations in the chest cavity, is able to generate almost 10 times the power required to operate a pacemaker.
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Lack of EHR standards a massive fail: report

The failure of successive governments to implement standardised GP electronic health records (EHR) has been slammed by the principal investigators of the nation’s largest study into general practice activity.
In their introduction to General Practice Activity in Australia 2011–12 released this week, Associate Professors Helena Britt and Graeme Miller decried the need to rely on paper-based information for what they claim is the “only continuous, national, representative study of GP activity in the world that links management actions with morbidity.”
The study, which aims to provide the information necessary for the general practice profession to assess its strengths and weaknesses and see changes in practice over time, is the latest of the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health annual studies published by Sydney University Press.
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Decade of change for general practitioners

Australia’s general practitioner (GP) workforce is ageing rapidly, managing more problems per patient and increasingly making use of information technology.
It’s also a profession with a much higher proportion of females and those with a better work-life balance, according to a decade-long nationwide study.
Produced by the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre, the report on changes to the GP workforce and the patients they treat is based on information from nearly one million actual patient encounters collected from 9,800 doctors.
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Project will determine if an elderly person's normal routine is being maintained

  • by: Jennifer Foreshew
  • From: The Australian
  • December 04, 2012 12:00AM
AN Australian project could deliver a low-cost and unobtrusive system to enable the elderly to live independently in their homes for longer.
University of Adelaide researchers are adapting radio-frequency identification and sensor technologies to automatically identify and monitor human activity, without the need to wear or turn anything on or off.
The project, which aims to develop novel sensor systems, will determine if an individual's normal routine is being maintained so that timely assistance can be provided if it is needed.
The team are developing a system using a network of sensors attached to objects that an elderly person interacts with in the home, such as cups or an oven. Software will then be used to interpret the collected data to detect what they are doing.
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NEHTA eHealth Employment Opportunity for Medical Students – Applications Closing Soon!

AMSA has partnered with NEHTA for an exciting opportunity for medical students. Applications close this Friday 7th of December, so get in quick!
Help get GP practices get ready for eHealth incentives!
The National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) is urgently looking for medical students in Melbourne to be part of a 1 week pilot project to assist General Practices get ready for eHealth.
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Robots to start work at hospital

3rd Dec 2012
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced on Sunday RNS would become the first hospital in Australia to use the robots - automated guided vehicles (AGVs) - to transport food, linen and other supplies around its new acute services building.
Every day the AGVs will deliver and collect about 3600 meal trays, hundreds of clean and dirty linen items and other waste from around the hospital.
"Not only will they assist staff to do their jobs more efficiently without the risk of painful injuries, they will reduce accidental cross-contamination of goods during transport," Ms Skinner said.
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National Product Catalogue passes quarter of a million milestone

4 December 2012. NEHTA’s National Product Catalogue (NPC) has topped a quarter of a million Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and is continuing to grow strongly.
With more suppliers coming on board and more Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) added, the number of GTINs now totals 276,121 from more than 390 suppliers.  This equates to an 80% increase in the past two years.
The unique identification and bar coding of healthcare products and services can improve patient safety and NEHTA has worked successfully with GS1 Australia and all stakeholders to operationalise and enhance the National Product Catalogue and NEHTA eProcurement solution.
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Mandatory data breach notification urged after privacy law passage

The Australian privacy commissioner and the ACCAN differ on trigger for notification.
The Australian privacy commissioner and a consumer group supported mandatory data breach notifications, in comments submitted today to the Attorney General.
Last week, Parliament passed a bill containing several amendments to privacy law. Among other things, the law gives Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim more powers, including the right to seek civil penalties for serious privacy breaches.
However, the privacy legislation did not include a more controversial provision requiring companies to notify customers in the case of a data breach. The proposal involves some tough issues, including what constitutes a breach and how soon after a breach a company should alert customers.
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Australia’s NBN: Come Hell or High Water

Kevin Morgan1
Are there projects of such self-evident value that they ought to be exempt from even the most rudimentary cost–benefit analysis? Seemingly so, according to the former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, as long as it’s the National Broadband Network (NBN). In May 2009, a month after Kevin Rudd had announced the $43 billion project, when asked about the absence of a cost–benefit analysis (CBA), Tanner said: ‘We had to make the clear decision that said this is the outcome we are going to achieve come hell or high water because it is of fundamental importance to the future of the Australian economy’ (quoted in Martin 2010).
A year later, Tanner remained unmoved by Opposition calls for a CBA and he dismissed such analysis as subjective because ‘cost–benefit analyses of the orthodox kind are basically captives to the assumptions you feed in’ (Martin 2010).
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Voyager streaks from the limit of knowledge to the universal unknown

Date December 6, 2012

Nicky Phillips

Science Reporter

WHEN the Voyager 1 spacecraft launched from the fields of Cape Canaveral in late 1977 en route to Jupiter, Saturn and their moons, the probe's planetary tour was expected to last just five years.
Three decades and three months later the pioneering craft has reached the edge of the solar system, having completed its original mission as well as fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune.
Sometime in the coming months - no one is quite sure of the exact timing - Voyager 1 will cross the boundary where the sun's magnetic influence ends and the cooler regions of interstellar space begin, a place no man-made object has reached.
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Enjoy!
David.

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