Monday, December 03, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 3rd 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

Well the silly season seems to have begun and all seems pretty quiet on the e-Health front - not that the same is true under the hood with a lot of work happening to try and meet or fix various Government deadlines and problems.
For mine I just get the feeling we are seeing a fair bit of instability in all that is happening - the reason for this is unclear.
The weekly visit to my NEHRS reveals that the system is still unacceptably slow and that one sees much too much of the wirling ‘please wait’ symbol when looking around.
With the number or registrations reported so far (see first article below) this seems odd!

PCEHR patient registration rising steadily

27th Nov 2012
REGISTRATIONS for the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) are steadily rising, with at least one major GP software firm on track for GPs to be able to upload patient health data by December.
There have been 18,214 consumer registrations and 243 healthcare provider registrations for the PCEHR system since its low-key launch on 1 July.
“This number precedes targeted promotions, which are currently under way,” a Department of Health and Ageing spokesperson said.

New PBS computer system delayed

THE Department of Health and Ageing has flagged further delays to a new computer system for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that will impact prescribers and dispensers, but not patients.
The new IT system for the PBS, dubbed PharmCIS, replaces over 40 systems spanning nearly 20 years.
According to the department, PharmCIS or Pharmaceutical Consolidated Information System will support approval and listing of medicines on the PBS and its price determinations.

PharmCIS delays hamper PBS claims

30 November, 2012 Kirrilly Burton  
Pharmacists are being asked to hold off submitting their PBS claims until their software has been updated after delays on a major upgrade to the IT system for the PBS.
The new system, dubbed ‘PharmCIS,’ to replace over 40 existing systems, was expected to be introduced tomorrow to coincide with changes to the PBS Schedule from December 1 2012. 
However, the Department of Health and Ageing has admitted that some PBS software updates by some vendors would not be implemented by tomorrow due to the “complexity of the transition to the new system.”

Doubts over e-health records for research

30 November, 2012 Julie Robotham
Patients and GPs are wary about the use of electronic health records for public health research, even if the data is de-identified, according to a UK study with implications for Australia’s development of the sector.
Fiona Stevenson from the Department of Primary Care and Population Health, at University College London, approached 800 patients from the two general practices chosen to evaluate an “opt out” system for patients whose medical and social security records otherwise could be linked though electronic identifiers and stored in a “safe haven”, for later de-identified use by researchers. Half of the patients she selected had opted out.
50 patients joined focus group interviews. They supported research in principle but worried records would be used by scientists with no duty of care to individual patients. They also questioned whether people fully understood the opt-out provision.

Remote servicing helps spread word to the deaf

CHILDREN in the developing world may soon start receiving Australia's renowned Cochlear hearing implants, thanks to a process that tunes and services the devices using remote computer technology.
More than 250,000 patients worldwide have benefited from Cochlear implants and products since their inception in 1982 but their availability has been limited not only by access to surgical facilities and audiology specialists but also a lack of clinics to periodically tune the implant's speech processing unit.
The solution has moved one step closer, with the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre confirming it has serviced an implant patient in Kenya using remote computer access technology provided by software firm LogMein. The patient, a three-year-old girl, is its first in Africa.

Scientists facing a $2m shortfall on bionic eye project

Date November 28, 2012

Bridie Smith

A MAJOR funding shortfall could derail Australia's hopes of developing the world's first bionic eye, with a key group working on the project reporting a need of almost $2 million.
Bionic Vision Australia, a consortium of some of the country's top research institutions, secured a four-year, $42 million federal grant in 2009 after the idea was floated at the 2020 summit in 2008.
Delivered in instalments, the money was to last until the end of next year. But on Wednesday the group will launch a public appeal for funds, without which it says it will be unable to leap-frog international rivals or secure on-going contracts for researchers.

Privacy Amendment Bill passed, gives commissioner far-reaching powers

Timothy Pilgrim can seek civil penalties in cases of serious privacy breaches
The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 was passed in Parliament today, giving privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim more powers, including the right to seek civil penalties in the case of serious breaches of privacy.
The legislation also permits the commissioner to conduct assessments of privacy performance for both Australian government agencies and private companies.
The Bill which is due to come into effect in March 2014, updates the Privacy Act 1988 and is designed to enhance Australian’s personal information.

Million-dollar fines set for privacy breaches

Date November 30, 2012 - 12:11PM

Jane Lee

The Australian Privacy Commissioner will be able to issue million-dollar fines to government agencies and companies for serious and repeated privacy breaches under a new law.
The reforms, which Commonwealth Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has dubbed the most significant changes to privacy laws in more than 20 years, passed on Thursday and are expected to come into force in about 15 months. Ms Roxon introduced a discussion paper on mandatory reporting of breaches in October
The law gives privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim new powers, including the ability to investigate both groups at his discretion, in the same way that he currently can individuals.

Mental health needs better information: report

Vast improvements in health information collection, sharing and analysis are needed if Australia is to better support the estimated 3.2 million people currently suffering from mental illness.
So says Australia’s first ever National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, released by the National Mental Health Commission yesterday.
The report provides as snapshot of the nation’s progress to date on mental health along with recommendations for change and improvement, with a particular focus on an individual’s “recovery journey” to achieve a fulfilling life.

Availability of eHealth authentication solution to support secure messaging delivery

29 November 2012. The first release of the Department of Human Services (DHS) National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) supported access to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system using both organisational and individual certificates.
The use of the DHS NASH digital certificates (known as HPI-O certificates) for healthcare organisations has now been extended by DHS to enable usage for Secure Message Delivery (SMD) via compliant SMD products.
Providing an assurance that only authorised healthcare organisations are allowed to access eHealth Records and transmit important health information is vital to protecting people’s private health information and improving health outcomes. This same level of assurance is now available for SMD.

Data revolution hits healthcare

Advances in genomic science are turbocharging the data volumes available to tackle a global surge in chronic disease, according to the Scottish Government’s chief health scientist.

Speaking at the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation’s Network to Network conference in Sydney, Professor Andrew Morris explained how genomic science, together with the growth in health information from other sources such as ehealth records, requires new approaches to collecting, sharing and analysing data.

More bumps in e-health road

THE Gillard government's personally controlled e-health record system is facing more bumps in its rollout following frequent disruption to its software vendor testing environment.
In the past seven months, only five vendors have passed the requirements for their software to be connected to the live e-health production platform. There are more than 250 software vendors who need their 300-400 products certified for the PCEHR.
The PCEHR is intended to be a secure electronic summary of people's medical history that is stored and shared in a "network of connected systems".

Department keeps details secret

THE inner workings of a powerful unit behind the Gillard government's e-health records program is set to remain behind closed doors indefinitely.
The highly secretive program control group within the Health Department is the main steering body overseeing the implementation of the national personally controlled electronic health record system.
The control group includes health deputy secretary Rosemary Huxtable, chief information officer Paul Madden, e-health division first assistant secretary Fionna Granger and National E-Health Transition Authority chief executive Peter Fleming.

Tibco pushes privacy breach laws

  • by: Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 28, 2012 10:54AM
AUSTRALIA has been urged to adopt new mandatory breach notification rules to offer the same protection consumers in Europe are afforded.
Under local privacy laws there is no requirement to notify the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner or any individual in the event of a data breach.
However, the government has released a discussion paper on privacy breach notification, with submissions closing on November 23, following the Australian Law Reform Commission's recommendation for such laws to be introduced.
The paper covers a myriad of areas, primarily whether there is a need to introduce a mandatory data breach notification scheme.

Online access boosts consults

A NEW US study showing online access to medical records and doctors led to an increase in GP and emergency department visits is no cause for concern, according to Australian medical leaders.
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said a spike in the use of clinical and hospital services that was identified by the study was not a result of patients with online access developing additional health concerns but, rather, because the people who participated in online access were more worried and motivated about their health.
“It wasn’t because of access, it was because of self-selection bias”, Dr Hambleton said.

Medicare Locals name to go under review

28th Nov 2012
HEALTH Minister Tanya Plibersek has confirmed a planned review of the Medicare Locals initiative – set to begin early in 2013 – will evaluate whether the contentious moniker given to the entities is “suitable for its purpose”.
News of the review – which will also canvass community acceptance of the name – came as legislation amendments that would officially open the door for Medicare Locals to legally use the term Medicare in their operating names passed the lower house by a single vote yesterday.

Smart specs may replace guide dogs

  • From: AAP
  • November 26, 2012 6:19AM
SMART specs for the blind that could take the place of white canes and guide dogs may be available in two years, say researchers.
The hi-tech glasses are designed to prevent "legally blind" individuals with a small degree of residual vision from bumping into objects.
They use tiny stereo cameras in the frames to project simplified images onto the lenses which become brighter the closer an object is.
NICTA scientists will use funds from a recently-awarded National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant to help doctors tell the difference between lethal and non-life-threatening prostate cancers. The scientists will use computational analysis to better understand genomic data, paving the way for better, more targeted medical treatments in the future.

Online tool calculate childhood obesity risk

29 November, 2012 Julie Robotham
The likelihood a child will become obese can be predicted accurately at birth, say British researchers who have incorporated risk factors identified in a long-term study into an online calculator.
Researchers from Imperial College, London, used data from a study established in 1986 to track 4000 children born in Finland. They had initially expected the children’s genetic profiles might yield most clues to subsequent weight gain.

Electronic heart decisions put to the test

23 November, 2012 Megan Reynolds
An electronic decision support system will be rolled out in an ambitious pilot project across 60 Sydney GP clinics and Aboriginal health services in an attempt to improve persistent deficiencies in cardiovascular disease prevention.
Using a computerised algorithm based on guidelines from the National Heart Foundation, Diabetes Australia and other groups, the Health Tracker system combines decision support with patient materials and practice feedback for doctors.
It will compare the performance of practices using the system against matched controls participating in existing quality improvement initiatives, according to the protocol published in BMJ Open.

National Health and Medical Research Council seeks IP telephony

Other government agencies may opt in to the VoIP service.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) wants to replace an “ageing” phone system with IP telephony, according to a request for tender posted Tuesday.
The Council said its existing PBX telephony system in Canberra and Melbourne is more than 20 years old. The Council has 220 staff in Canberra and 25 staff in Melbourne. The government body’s data centre is in Canberra.

Dusty cameras cause false alarms

29 November, 2012 Clare Pain
Cameras used for total body photography (TBP) to record skin checks need to be carefully cleaned, otherwise dust specks can look like melanomas, warn Australian dermatologists.
Describing a recent experience with a 34 year old woman with a history of lentigo maligna and atypical naevi, Dr Alex Chamberlain and Dr Sarah Edwards of the Victorian Melanoma Service, the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne report how a darkly pigmented lesion seen on the right thigh in photographs misled them into thinking a lesion had regressed.

Cambridge centre to delve into artificial intelligence

  • From: AP
  • November 26, 2012 9:41AM
COULD computers become cleverer than humans and take over the world? Or is that just the stuff of science fiction?
Philosophers and scientists at Britain's Cambridge University think the question deserves serious study.
A proposed Centre for the Study of Existential Risk will bring together experts to consider the ways in which super intelligent technology, including artificial intelligence, could "threaten our own existence", the institution says.

Windows 8 sales flounder as critics pan clumsy interface

Date November 26, 2012

Asher Moses

Technology Editor

Windows 8 sales in Australia and overseas are below expectations, with one US expert describing its user interface as "a monster that terrorises poor office workers and strangles their productivity".
In Australia, IDC market analyst Amy Cheah, who has spoken to local retailers, vendors and channel partners as part of her work compiling sales numbers, said Windows 8 take-up was "not as strong as Microsoft would like it to be".
"Actual sales to date is not matching the hype, but the momentum is picking up in November," she said.


Anonymous said...

Good summary of all the various articles David this past week. It will be interesting to see what impact the new Privacy laws (and breach notification laws in 2013) have on the health sector as no one including software vendors have considered Privacy in designing solutions, especially cloud based solutions. I think their may an elephant in the room moment happening in due course, hopefully people will see that.

Privacy Paul

Trevor3130 said...

The article on PBS computer upgrade says "This has been a task of immense complexity and has been undertaken to replace over 40 existing data systems some of which have been in use for nearly 20 years." The task of porting data out of legacy systems isn't unique to DoHA, or the public hospital system. But, maybe there is a unique facet of health-care that has created a much bigger problem than for legacy systems in finance. I mean, clinicians want to spent as little time staring at screens & pecking at key-boards, since their life & love is gathering information rapidly and then translating that into meaningful tasks performed with their hands. Clinicians, therefore, function as individuals, and are only drawn into team-work, or even to consider the needs of other care-providers, under duress from managers.
It would be no surprise, therefore, to find many of the legacy software systems in health-care have design features that are not just sub-optimal, but are absolute impediments to upgrade, because of the pressure applied by all-powerful clinicians to accept short-sighted measures in order to get a quicker result.
Think of those legacy systems holding decades of hospital laboratory data in pathology departments.
Interface design is seen as a critically important aspect in some industries. I'm told the latest 767 has a new design for the instrument displays, so that the relevant dials are brought into the pilot's central field of view. Boeing probably has a whole building full of ergonomics experts, visual designers and neuropsychologists, so that they can be pretty sure some small change doesn't impair the pilot in doing his job of keeping the aircraft safe.
That's the difference in health-care. Design failures are accepted, no-one bothers to keep account because profits have been taken, and the "pilots" walk away, unscathed.

Anonymous said...

“This number precedes targeted promotions, which are currently under way,” a Department of Health and Ageing spokesperson said.

What a joke!

At least DOHA are implicitly admitting the semi-trailer meandering around the country-side and making impromptu expensive pit-stops at taxpayers’ expense is NOT a "targeted" promotion for the PCEHR. If it's a targeted campaign, then what on earth is it?

David, you should start a "Where's Wally?" contest but brand it as the "Where's the PCEHR truck NOW?" campaign. The ehealth community could track its progress (or lack thereof) through Google Maps.

18,274 Patient Registrations in the first 5-months? Hardly the unleashing of latent pent-up demand for this PCEHR from the patients and Australian citizens behaviour it would seem. Why doesn’t NEHTA and/or DOHA “benchmark” this number and take-up rate to demonstrate how resoundingly successful it has been already? That’s $25,555/registration so far based on the initial $467M budget allocation, so these must be some pretty sick patients demanding a lot of expensive healthcare services we’re economising on to have any hope of achieving a reasonable taxpayer return on investment!

Maybe DOHA can boost the PCEHR registration numbers by cooperating with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service through registration of asylum seeker boat people upon arrival, so their medical records and healthcare can be enhanced during their prolonged incarceration in onshore and offshore detention centres?

That will swiftly and continuously boost the PCEHR registration and participation numbers, and consolidate the Labor Government's policy disasters and taxpayer money rorts!

Who knows, maybe DOHA are already doing this and the asylum seekers are making up the lion’s share of the 18K registrations? No one would ever know, and no one would ever be able to find out??

Anonymous said...

12/04/2012 11:28:00 AM said --- At least DOHA are implicitly admitting the semi-trailer meandering around the country-side and making impromptu expensive pit-stops at taxpayers’ expense is NOT a "targeted" promotion for the PCEHR.

I think the NEHTA MegaTruck was terminated around 30 June. I could be wrong. A total waste of resources. Like so many other farces - Tiger Teams - Clinical Leads - it was just another demonstration NEHTA and DOHA have no understanding of their target market.

Anonymous said...

Other ideas to help the government boost the number of PCEHR registrations:

Jump the queue in ED - show your PCEHR!

Get out of prison free (with a PCEHR)

Free truck ride…