Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 29th 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

It seems the rumblings regarding the NEHRS / PCEHR are continuing with the usual suspects - NEHTA consultants - saying all is well. My contacts are suggesting there are many GPs with a wide range of concerns that really need to be addressed.
Other than that there are some interesting bits of news on medical devices, e-Health start up funding and a few other fun bits!

PCEHR still too difficult: GP

23rd Jul 2013
A SPIKE in personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) registrations almost brought the federal government to its target of 500,000 sign-ups by the end of June, but GPs insist the system is still not useful or accessible enough to lure them.
Dr Peter Hopkins, a GP in NSW’s Hunter region, said using the PCEHR was still too complex and the benefits not apparent enough.
“To actually get a patient enrolled and hooked up in the system, it’s a difficulty which I haven’t even attempted.
“We are all waiting for the better understanding and leverage of this,” he said.
“But the time and effort it takes and explaining it to the patient and justifying it, it adds to the workload so much that it’s just not being done.”
The health department confirmed it passed the half million milestone last Wednesday, just over two weeks after the target date.

'It's not a push of a button', says PCEHR lead

The Federal Government's much critcised patient controlled electronic health records scheme is still along way off benefitting GPs, according to the clinical lead of National E-health Transition Authority.
In an exclusive video interview with 6minutes Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, a Melbourne GP, reveals the extensive amount of work involved in uploading shared patient health summaries and event summaries which are the backbone of the $1 billion scheme.
Check out the full video below to hear more of what he has to say:

A second opinion on the progress of e-health

Wide criticism of the government's e-health system is premature, but more needs to be done in "meeting the gap" faced by regional and rural areas.
Dr Chris Mitchell, Head of Adoption, Benefits and Change at the National E-Health Transition Authority, says it is "really important that we prioritise rural Australia" for the roll out of ehealth initiatives and infrastructure such as the National Broadband Network which drives it.
"I think rural Australia misses out in a whole lot of areas - in terms of a whole lot of infrastructure - and I think Australia should do more to be meeting that gap for our rural communities," Dr Mitchell explained.
"I think it is really important that we prioritise rural Australia for the roll out of these sorts of technologies if we are going to be taking advantage of them and meet the health needs of our rural communities.

Megan Robertson & Nilmini Wickramasinghe: Caring technology

Megan Robertson and Nilmini Wickramasinghe
Monday, 22 July, 2013
THE debate about e-health has so far been short on details about the specific issues facing doctors in implementing information technology in health care.
While a recent article in MJA InSight about the lack of information technology (IT) progress deserves applause, it was disappointingly short on specific details that are directly relevant to practising doctors.
Unfortunately, motherhood statements that relate to solutions in the business sector or social media fail to consider the unique and personal nature of health care provision.
We need to clearly separate the business components of running a practice from the clinical components of providing medical care in the e-health debate.

Telehealth leaves GPs cold

24 July, 2013 Kate Cowling
Most GPs would abruptly end a video consultation if the patient presented with signs of anxiety, acute cough or gall-bladder disease, research shows, casting doubt on the viability of telehealth.
A study of 46 doctors has revealed that even those who began a video session with an open mind became ambivalent when conditions were perceived to be complicated or warranted "hands-on" clinical assessment.
The research raises questions about the clinical effectiveness of teleconsultations as a replacement for face-to-face ones.
The GPs in the study were shown six video vignettes from a remote location, filmed by actors, and were asked to diagnose the patient's condition and nominate whether they would proceed with the consult.

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) and SNOMED Clinical Terms to align

Created on Thursday, 25 July 2013
Leading global health care terminologies Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) and SNOMED Clinical Terms to align.

Data breach law essential to protect individuals

Date July 24, 2013 - 4:03PM

Teresa Corbin

The backlash by industry groups against long-overdue data breach reporting laws would be worrying if it wasn’t so predictable, says consumer advocate Teresa Corbin.
If we are to believe industry lobby groups like the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA – formerly known as the Australian Direct Marketing Association), the government’s proposed laws to make organisations notify consumers of breaches of their personal privacy would be a jobs killer and an unnecessary burden on business.
This is an argument aimed at further delaying a bill already five years in the making that would do no more than see businesses held accountable for being careless with their customers’ personal information.

Telehealthcare leader Feros Care connects clients to their personal electronic records and into the e-health revolution

WhaTech Channel: Medical Software
Published: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:09
Press Release from: Feros Care
Feros Care continues to lead the way to better aged care through technology, as one of the first in the sector to successfully connect its own electronic client records to Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR).
The tech-savvy provider of community and residential aged care has embraced e-health, which is particularly valuable for older people, and has committed to assist all staff and clients register for one of the online records, provided they wish to opt in to the new system.
To make signing up even easier for its clients, the organisation is using the Australian Government's Assisted Registration Tool, a piece of software which streamlines the process of aged care staff to assisting older people who want to get their own PCEHR.
Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley describes the PCEHR as a “wonderful enabler” that can ensure seniors receive the best possible multi-disciplinary healthcare, whether in the residential or community setting.

ATMs hacker Barnaby Jack dies on eve of pacemakers talk

  • From: AP
  • July 27, 2013 4:04PM
A PROMINENT hacker who made ATMs spit out cash and was set to deliver a talk about hacking pacemakers and other wireless implantable medical devices has died in San Francisco.
The cause of death of Barnaby Jack, who died at his home in San Francisco, was still under investigation, San Francisco Deputy Coroner Kris Barbrich said.
Jack, who was in his mid-30s, was scheduled to speak on August 1 at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The headline of his talk was, "Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans," according to a synopsis on the Black Hat conference website.

Govt seeks GP advice on ‘medical homes’

19 July, 2013 Paul Smith
The Federal Health Minister wants “expert input” on patients registering with individual GP practices as part of a drive to tie patients closer to a “medical home”.
Marking the conclusion of last week’s Family Doctor Week, Tanya Plibersek lavished praise on GPs, describing them as the “backbone of Australia’s world-class universal health system”.
“It is their genuine, enduring, and intimate relationship with patients that helps make their clinical impact so powerful. That relationship allows family doctors to truly understand their patients, plan their care carefully, and even pre-empt their health needs.”

Take notice of MLs’ effect, it’s positive

16th Jul 2013
AS THE nation embraces the political spin and campaigning that dominate the media and water cooler conversations each election year, I have been reflecting on the health reform agenda and where Medicare Locals are now sitting within the broader primary healthcare setting.
I think it is evident that MLs are now establishing themselves as a key component of their local healthcare infrastructure — recognised and appreciated by their local communities. In looking forward, I think it is important that we take a moment to reflect on where we are and how it is we came to be here.
We undertook these healthcare reforms because our health system was failing people. It has been fragmented, siloed, inefficient, inequitable and economically unsustainable. People have been missing out on the services they desperately needed — often the most vulnerable people.

Behind the news – Medicare Locals

23rd Jul 2013
EARLIER this month a national survey of 1400 Australians revealed that almost three-quarters of respondents had no idea what role or purpose Medicare Locals played in the primary healthcare system.
One in 20 surveyed believed the bodies helped process their MBS claims. 

Health checks go mobile

SMARTPHONES, wireless sensors and cloud computing are being combined to allow a doctor to monitor a patient hundreds of kilometres away.
Researchers are developing the communication pathways to allow health information collected by a network of tiny wireless sensors to be transmitted using smartphones or tablets.
The service, being developed at Charles Sturt University in regional NSW, was initially aimed at Australia's ageing population.
The cloud-based healthcare monitoring system enables a doctor to monitor the heart rate or check the blood pressure of a patient hundreds of kilometres away using wireless sensors and mobile phone technology.

Sufferers see tyranny of distance fade thanks to broadband focus

FOR the first time chronic pain sufferers around the country will have a virtual conference to access expert advice via high-definition videoconferencing thanks to the National Broadband Network.
Chronic pain affects one in three Australians and is estimated to cost more than $34 billion a year in healthcare, according to Access Economics.
Armidale, in the NSW northern tablelands, will act as the main NBN hub, connecting at least seven other centres nationally.
Using the super-fast NBN to provide smooth video and voice transmission would allow participants to communicate -- virtually -- face-to-face with each other and with the experts as if everyone were in the same room.

Health checks via smartphones, tablets on the way

Summary: A new cloud-based system could deliver real-time health monitoring and alerts to healthcare professionals.
By Tim Lohman | July 25, 2013 -- 02:21 GMT (12:21 AEST)
A new cloud-based health care monitoring system in development by Charles Sturt University (CSU) could help deliver improved health services to regional and rural Australia, while helping reduce the ballooning cost of the country's health budget.
The system, being researched by staff at the university's School of Computing and Mathematics, combines wearable sensors, wireless sensor networks, body area wireless sensor networks (BAWSN), smart devices, cloud computing, and security technology to continuously monitor and manage the vital statistics of patients, such as heart rate and blood pressure levels.
According to the head of the system's research team, Dr Tanveer Zia, the placement of collected data on the cloud will enable medical practitioners to access patient health information anywhere, regardless of their proximity to the patients.

3 reasons to avoid Skype for telehealth

Is Skype safe for a clinical consultation? In June last year, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said in their publication RACGP advice on Skype: “There is currently no clear evidence to suggest that Skype is unsuitable for clinical use”.
This year however, new information came to light suggesting that Skype, owned by Microsoft, may not be as safe as we thought. Here are three reasons why you should be careful to use Skype as a professional video conferencing tool:
  • Skype is not encrypted from end-to-end. Microsoft can intercept information transmitted via Skype.
  • Skype tells the world where users are by exposing IP addresses. This allows criminals to target cyber attacks.
  • The US National Security Agency (NSA) can listen in and watch Skype chats with their data collection program Prism.

Saluda Medical receives $5m in e-health funding

Money will be used for the development of pain management technology
National ICT Australia (NICTA) startup Saluda Medical has been awarded $5 million by the New South Wales Government for the development of technology which will improve chronic pain management.
According to Saluda researchers, electrical stimulation of the patient’s spinal cord can offer pain relief. However, it can also cause uncomfortable side effects.
The researchers plan to develop technology which will measure nerve responses to electrical stimulation and use this information to automatically adjust the stimulation to a comfortable level. The stimulation is delivered via a spinal implant.

NSW Medical Devices Fund gives AU$10m to health tech startups

Summary: The NSW Medical Devices Fund has given AU$10.3m over three years to help fund five health startups across New South Wales.
By Chris Duckett | July 22, 2013 -- 06:27 GMT (16:27 AEST)
The NSW Medical Devices Fund announced (PDF) its inaugural grant recipients on Friday, which will be split five ways over the coming three years.
NICTA startup Saluda Medical walked away with AU$5 million for its implantable device for the treatment of chronic pain. Saluda was spun out of NICTA earlier this year, after picking up an initial AU$5 million in private investment.
"Saluda's goal is to bring this research to commercial reality and see our technology used in every neuromodulation application in the future." said Dr John Parker, Saluda CEO.

Doctors praise new surgical knife that diagnoses as it cuts

Date July 19, 2013
A new kind of surgical knife can tell cancerous from healthy tissue in seconds and may help improve tumour removal in the operating room, new research shows.
Known as the iKnife, the tool analyses the vapour given off as surgeons use electrical current to cut away tissue - and it reports in real time whether the tissue is cancerous.
Tests in 91 human patients have shown the tool's diagnoses were extremely accurate and may be reliable enough for widespread use in operating rooms, the study, published in the US journal Science Translational Medicine, revealed.

Clever scalpel sniffs out cancer

22 July, 2013 Amanda Sheppeard
A revolutionary adaption of the electric scalpel is poised to change the way surgeons approach the removal of cancerous tumours.  
The iKnife analyses smoke from burned tissue as it is cut, providing immediate feedback on whether the tissue is cancerous, healthy or unidentified.
Developed by Dr Zoltan Takats, from Imperial College London, it's describes it as a potential game-changer for tumour resection.

How big data can result in bad data

Date July 23, 2013 - 8:13AM

Drew Turney

Stacks of information is just yada yada yada until it's analysed properly.
A couple of years ago, ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded US debt. Not because of the state of the economy, but because of an error in its original calculations - a mere $US2.1 trillion.
Nate Silver, the poster child for analytic predictions, told a recent conference that the financial crisis was as much about bad modelling as greed. The ratings agencies, he said, based assumptions on past mortgages, not the number of people who would default.
Welcome to the world of bad data, something that's caught on in Australia, too. GS1, the agency responsible for barcoding and product identification systems, recently released a report that found bad data will cost Australian grocery retailers $675 million in lost sales over the next five years, and that 65 per cent of ''data misalignment'' problems led to lost sales.

NBN costs set to soar past $60bn

  • by: Annabel Hepworth, National business correspondent
  • From: The Australian
  • July 24, 2013 12:00AM
CONSTRUCTION contractors on the National Broadband Network are pushing to be paid up to 40 per cent more to do further work, fuelling fears of a cost blowout on Labor's flagship infrastructure project.
The Australian has been told that industry suppliers are looking for increases in the value of contracts of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent for further work and that high-level evaluations are circulating suggesting that the ultimate cost of the project could spiral out to between $60 billion and $70bn.
A slew of NBN Co's current construction contracts are due to expire between this year and 2016 and will have to be renewed; NBN Co is also expected to take tenders for delivering fibre, fibre links and new developments this year. Some of NBN Co's main contractors appear to have hit financial strife and some of their sub-contractors have downed tools in Victoria and Tasmania, claiming they are not being paid enough. "There's a huge probability this thing will go completely through the ceiling," said a senior industry source.

Hunt for alien spacecraft begins, as planet-spotting scientist Geoff Marcy gets funding

Date July 24, 2013

Peter Brannen

In the field of planet hunting, Geoff Marcy is a star. After all, the astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley found nearly three-quarters of the first 100 planets discovered outside our solar system. But with the hobbled planet-hunting Kepler telescope having just about reached the end of its useful life and reams of data from the mission still left uninvestigated, Marcy began looking in June for more than just new planets. He's sifting through the data to find alien spacecraft passing in front of distant stars.
He's not kidding - and now he has the funding to do it.
If intelligent life is common in the galaxy, "where is everybody?" 
Last fall, the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organisation dedicated to investigating what it calls the "big questions" - which, unsurprisingly, include "Are we alone?" - awarded Marcy $US200,000 to pursue his search for alien civilisations.

Earth viewed from a billion miles away

Date July 26, 2013 - 2:01PM

Peter Spinks

Fairfax Science Columnist

From the remote vantage point of Saturn, planet Earth seems mighty small and insignificant. Yet the first interplanetary portrait to be taken in natural colour is a stark reminder of how alone and potentially vulnerable we are in the vastness of space.
The series of snaps was taken early last Saturday by NASA's Saturn-orbiting space probe, Cassini, from a distance of 1.44 billion kilometres.
The images – facilitated by a unique version of an outer solar system eclipse in which the sun's glowing dial hid safely behind Saturn – are short on detail. Earth, after all, shows up as a trifling 1.5 pixels wide, with the illuminated part less than a pixel across.

No comments: