Monday, July 01, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 1st July, 2013.

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 lot of discussion of e-Health and associated issues have appeared this week - even though we might have been distracted by the carry-on in Canberra.
As you read this we will be waiting to hear how the PCEHR sign-ups have gone and wondering when we will have an election and what impact it might have on the e-Health agenda.
Otherwise we have a few interesting bits and an update on Win 8.0.
Happy New Financial Year!

Overcoming e-health roadblocks

Steve Hambleton
There is widespread support among the medical profession for electronic health initiatives that will make it easier to provide quality health care, especially in situations and locations where services are scarce or hard to access. But there are hurdles to overcome.
Most doctors support an e-health environment that provides the profession with reliable, key clinical information that can enhance their decision-making about the health care their patients require.
While doctors appreciate the potential benefits of e-health, it is difficult for private medical practices to establish a clear cost benefit, particularly general practices that will incur the greatest costs but derive the least direct benefit.

E-health the way to go: survey

  • by: Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • June 26, 2013 12:40PM
ROUGHLY nine out of 10 Australians believe doctors should have ready access to their medical information electronically during appointments, a new study shows.
However, only 60 per cent of them said they were willing to share healthcare information online, a bane for the government's personally controlled e-health system.
Around 1000 people participated in the survey commissioned by IT services firm Infosys.

Frustrations hamper e-records in aged care

27 June, 2013 Antonio Bradley
The headache of implementing electronic health records in Australia's aged-care homes has been laid bare in an unflattering study.
Nursing staff in nine homes across NSW, ACT and Queensland have detailed 266 frustrations with their homes' new computer systems, in an apparent blow to the health profession's push to digitise patient care.
Top of the list of complaints in the study, published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics (online), was how hard it was to input or retrieve data.

Long road to successful e-health system

Andrew Birmingham
Over-hyped and over-promised. That’s how Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute’s health program director, summarised Australia’s two-decade long trek towards a digital healthcare system.
“There has been the promise that the transformation in healthcare caused by digitisation is just around the corner,” he said.
It’s a promise that includes the full integration of different healthcare systems across the private, public and allied health sectors.

E-script software needs debugging

24th Jun 2013
DOCTORS, pharmacists and software makers have written to the department of health demanding it fix a discrepancy in the prescribing part of the e-health system which could lead to patients getting the wrong medication.
The letter from the AMA, Pharmacy Guild and others said naming guidelines given to e-health software makers had changed the convention of listing the biggest ingredient first to alphabetising them instead.
A GP who prescribed Coveram 5mg/10mg, for example, would expect the patient to get 5mg of perindopril and 10mg of amlodipine. However, those proportions would be swapped by the pharmacist’s software because amlodipine came first alphabetically, the letter warned.

Medicare app on the horizon

  • by: Andrew Colley
  • From: Australian IT
  • June 26, 2013 12:00AM
THE Department of Human Services has revealed it is developing a Medicare app for smartphones.
The department's general manager Hank Jongen declined to reveal details of the app's capabilities including whether it would be used in conjunction with the federal government's personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) register.
Mr Jongen, however, did confirm it would be developed as an addition to Human Services' Express Plus app which is currently offered to Centrelink customers.

201314 Budget: analysis of health and ageing provisions

26 June, 2013
26 June 2013 | In a tough political and budget year with several major initiatives to be funded - most notably the Gonski education reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, now known as DisabilityCare Australia - the health and ageing section of the 2013-14 Budget has fared reasonably well. Overall the Budget contained $43 billion in savings over the forward estimates, much of which will be funneled into these new ‘critical investments.’ Of this, $1.22 billion over five years was taken from current health programs, with the majority of this ($902 million) from Medicare.
In 2013-14 the Australian Government expects to spend $64.64 billion on health, amounting to 16.2% of all Government expenses. Health spending is forecast to grow at 8.6% over the forward estimates – this is a faster rate in real terms than education (7% of spending) and social security and welfare (35% of spending).
Australia gets good value for this spend. The fourth COAG Reform Council Report on the National Healthcare Agreement shows that the overall health of Australians and the quality of our healthcare system continues to improve. Life expectancy is increasing and the number of low birthweight babies and rates of infant mortality are dropping.

Stephen Leeder: The Big Data trek

Stephen Leeder
Monday, 24 June, 2013
Star trek: the next generation fans will wonder whether the phrase “Big Data” is a descriptor for a new sentient android of epic proportion, a supersized upgrade of Lieutenant Commander Data.
As an addicted Trekkie, sadly, I must quickly disabuse you — even though there are people who consider Big Data to be every bit (byte?) as exciting as the USS Enterprise’s second officer.
Big Data actually refers to immense datasets that are collected in fields as diverse as astronomy and genomics. As Wikipedia tells it, “as of 2012, every day 2.5 quintillion (2.5×1018) bytes of data were created”, so there are a lot of data about.
The dynamic of Big Data is the search for relationships among these data and teasing out correlations that may not be obvious from the constituent datasets that comprise it. Our technical capacity to search immense data repositories means that correlations can be found in a way never before possible.

Automation boosts pharmacy safety and productivity

25 June, 2013 Nick O'Donoghue
Investing in an automated dispensing robot cannot only improve efficiency, it can deter thieves from holding up stores, one pharmacy owner believes.
Speaking at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia NSW branch’s National Convention and Exhibition in Sydney last week, Guy Ewing, a pharmacy owner from the Barossa Valley, South Australia, told delegates that one of the unexpected benefits from his decision to purchase a pharmacy robot was that it had deterred robbers from targeting his store.
Mr Ewing said the robot’s loading system, which uses “chaotic logic”, meant that once a product has been loaded into the machine none of the pharmacy staff can access them.

Committee gives thumbs up to Privacy Alerts Bill

Just over two days left to pass legislation.

A parliamentary committee investigating Australia's proposed mandatory data breach notification laws has expressed “unconditional support” for the bill and recommended it be passed by the Senate.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee today its released its report into the Privacy Alerts Bill 2013, which was introduced into the House of Representatives in late May.
The bill aims to force organisations to notify both the Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals when the integrity of personal information held in their systems has been compromised. 

ePip payments rely on GPs running secure messaging tests

NEHTA announced last month that successful testing of secure message delivery had been completed between various government agencies, General Practices and five vendors.
The trial, named the Secure Message Delivery – Proof of Inter-connectivity and Deployment project (shortened to SMD), started in November last year and involved healthcare messaging vendors Argus Connect, Global Health, Healthlink, LRS Health, and Medical Objects completing physical testing across a number of sites nationally.
Following the successful trial, the first GP to complete testing was Dr Robert Lewin, who in early June completed the SMD testing at his Erskineville (NSW) practice.

Software tool targets hepatitis risk

25th Jun 2013
A NEW computer program could help GPs spearhead a drive to tackle the incidence of liver cancer caused by viral hepatitis, a pilot study has found.
The program, which assesses the risk of chronic hepatitis B infection by using existing practice software to predict country of birth from surnames and match patients to existing surveillance records, is being seen as a breakthrough in targeting screening for those at most risk of hepatitis B infection.
Dr Benjamin Cowie, a physician with the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said ideally every patient’s country of birth would be recorded on all practice management software and records, although this happens in less than 5% of practices.

Consultation: International harmonisation of ingredient names

15 May 2013
This consultation closes on 10 July 2013

Consultation documents

*Large file warning: Attempting to open large files over the Internet within the browser window may cause problems. It is strongly recommended you download this document to your own computer and open from there.

International Harmonisation of Ingredient Names - Consultation paper

Draft guidance document: update to TGA Approved terminology for medicines


HealthShare announcement welcomed by GS1 Australia and NEHTA

Published: Saturday, 22 June 2013 16:22
Submitted by Jennifer Germano
Press Release from: GS1 Australia
GS1 Australia and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) have welcomed the recent announcement from NSW Health, advising HealthShare’s reaffirmed commitment to the National Product Catalogue (NPC) and GS1 Locatenet.
HealthShare has aligned its procurement business processes for the utilisation of data from the NPC and location information from GS1 Locatenet. The procurement areas in focus at HealthShare are cataloguing, tendering, contracting and electronic trading.
This further emphasises the importance of all suppliers taking the necessary steps to have their full catalogue (contracted and non-contracted items) on the NPC and their Global Location Numbers (GLN’s) added to GS1 Locatenet.

Google Glass success for surgeon

25 June, 2013 Megan Howe and AAP
SPAIN: Surgeons have carried out an operation using Google Glass to allow experts in the US to live-consult on the procedure in real time, streaming it on the internet.
Last Friday, a chondrocyte transplant operation was carried out at Madrid’s CEMTRO Clinic, which was monitored simultaneously at Stanford University, while also being streamed to 150 doctors in the US, Europe and Australia, the Digital Journal reports.

Let’s not forget what this government has done for primary care

Let’s have a look at some of the big health projects of the past years: Super clinics, Medicare locals and the PCEHR.
Interestingly, there are a few common themes – the absence of a ‘need’ or business case being one of them. But it wasn’t all bad: One of the positive achievements was plain packaging of tobacco products.
Super clinics
It all started with the super clinics idea. We didn’t really need super clinics. We needed doctors, clinical staff, funding for general practice programs and support for patients. There was no business case for super clinics, but… we got super clinics. We all knew they were going to fail, they failed – and caused a major hole in the health budget.

Ingestible smart pills are a hard act to swallow

Date June 24, 2013 - 2:25PM


SAN FRANCISCO: They look like normal pills, oblong and a little smaller than a daily vitamin. But if your doctor writes a prescription for these pills in the not-too-distant future, you might hear a new twist on an old cliche: "Take two of these ingestible computers, and they will email me in the morning."
As society struggles with the privacy implications of wearable computers like Google Glass, scientists, researchers and some startups are already preparing the next, even more intrusive wave of computing: ingestible computers and minuscule sensors stuffed inside pills.
Although these tiny devices are not yet mainstream, some people on the cutting edge are already swallowing them to monitor a range of health data and wirelessly share this information with a doctor. And there are prototypes of tiny, ingestible devices that can do things like automatically open car doors or fill in passwords.

Ultranet ultimatum: schools told pay up or lose it

Date June 28, 2013 - 4:28PM

Jewel Topsfield

Education Editor for The Age

The school Ultranet project was dogged from the start by inadequate planning, cost blow-outs and failed tenders.
The Victorian government’s $180 million schools IT experiment – intended to transform the way students learned – will end on December 31, with schools forced to pay if they wish to continue using the Ultranet next year.
The education department has signed a $2.8 million contract with NEC to provide the troubled school intranet for another six months to give schools time to plan for the future.

Bungled IT system puts TAFEs on hold

Date June 25, 2013

Benjamin Preiss

The state government has blamed a ''bungled'' $35 million TAFE computer system blow-out for a lengthy delay in reporting enrolment figures.
The cost of the computer system, commissioned under the previous Labor government to manage student records, has ballooned to about $100 million, well over its estimated cost of $65 million.
But TAFEs have also allocated staff to work on the system, adding to the overall cost.

‘Medicare Locals’ name to become legal, finally

28th Jun 2013
THE name ‘Medicare Locals’ will become legal under new laws passed by the Senate.
The upper house today passed a bill to fix a situation the Opposition ridiculed as coming from an incompetent "light globe moment" – giving the network of primary healthcare organisations an unlawful name.
The federal government has established 61 Medicare Locals since 2011, but it was an offence to use the word "Medicare" in a business context.

Microsoft debuts 're-blended' Windows

  • From: AFP
  • June 27, 2013 7:04AM
MICROSOFT has debuted a "re-blended" version of the overhauled Windows 8 operating system released late last year.
It also previewed new office apps for its Windows Metro interface, but said they would not be released until next year.
Windows 8.1 incorporated feedback from users and developers, and came with the promise that the US software giant was speeding up its release cycle to adapt to the dizzying pace of innovation in consumer technology.

Review: Windows 8.1 widens gap with older PCs

Date June 28, 2013 - 9:50AM

Ryan Nakashima

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the latest update to Windows is a "refined blend" of its older operating system for PCs and its new touch-enabled interface for more modern, mobile devices.
After some hands-on time with it, the update seems to me like a patch over an ever-widening chasm.
The issue is that there are more than a billion personal computers that use some version of Windows as it existed until last October, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 8. All those PCs are responsive to mice and keyboards, not the touch screens and other input methods like voice and gestures that represent the future of computing. Making it easier to cross that bridge is one of the goals of Windows 8.1, a preview version of which Microsoft released on Wednesday.

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