Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 21st October, 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

Well, quite an interesting week with the peak GP body coming out and wanting some PCEHR improvements and or changes. Will be interesting to see if there is any response.
As far as I can tell we have had no substantive health policy of any sort announced since the election. Going to ground hardly describes just how quiet the Ministers have been since the election. Either they have nodded off or there is a lot of paddling happening under the apparently serene swan on the surface.
Time will tell.

Doctors ready to pull plug on eHealth

By Julian Bajkowski 
Australia’s long and troubled efforts to create a functioning national system of electronic health and medical records system is once more close to collapse.
The Australian Medical Association has expressed serious concerns over clinician input into the project following the shock resignation of highly respected clinical representative Dr Mukesh Haikerwal from the National eHealth Transition Authority (NeHTA) this week.
Other crucial clinical advisors, including Dr Nathan Pinksier and other clinical leads are also understood to have quit signalling a severe breakdown in relations between doctors and Department of Health and Ageing.
A loss of confidence by doctors in either DoHA or or NeHTA would, in practical terms, shut-off political life support for the circa $1 billion Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project because the scheme cannot work unless doctors voluntarily agree to use it.

Concerns over clinical use of e-health records

16th Oct 2013
GENERAL practice leaders have called on the federal government to address concerns about the clinical use of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) after the project’s most senior leaders quit en masse.
In August, five of the top National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) clinical leads, including the project’s most vocal proponent, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, resigned amid reports of souring relations between the advisers and the Department of Health and Ageing because of claims the department was taking an increasingly central role in the rollout.
Today, United General Practice Australia (UGPA) – the umbrella group comprising the AMA, the RACGP, the RDAA and others – said the government, which is now the PCEHR operator, must make an “urgent priority” of addressing “significant clinical utility issues” associated with it.

GPs raise concerns over e-health record system

Australia’s general practice (GP) leaders are calling on the federal government to heed what they say are concerns raised by GPs regarding the “significant clinical utility issues” associated with the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR) system.
The GPs, through the United General Practice Australia (UGPA) – the overarching organisation comprising a number of Australia’s medical bodies- say the government needs to give urgent priority to addressing the issues with the PCEHR system.
According to the UGPA, its members meeting in Canberra unanimously agreed that the focus of the PCEHR needs to be redirected to clinical utility and standardisation to ensure seamless clinical adoption.

Dubbo trailing on eHealth uptake


Oct. 14, 2013, 4 a.m.
PEOPLE of Dubbo have been slow to take up the federal government's eHealth record system rolled out more than a year ago.
According to a spokesperson for the Australian Government Department of Health, there are around 1000 residents who have registered for the personally controlled eHealth record system (PCEHR) in Dubbo, which stores all medical records to make receiving the right treatment faster, safer and easier.
"In Dubbo, the Western NSW Medicare Local (WML) is supporting the uptake of consumer education and registration for the PCEHR... which currently has one million patients nationally," the department spokesperson said.
eHealth gives individuals the power to determine what records go into a secure online summary of personal medical information.

Confirmation needed on e-script incentive

16 October, 2013 Nick O'Donoghue
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is seeking urgent confirmation that the new Federal Government will deliver the Electronic Prescription Scanning Incentive, which was announced by Labor before the recent election.
Under the proposal by the previous government, pharmacists would be eligible to claim up to $2000 per pharmacy if they use electronic prescription scanning systems, as reported by Pharmacy News.
David Quilty, Guild executive director, said the incentive was fully funded under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement, and was “a critical step along the road towards a paperless script environment”.
“We have no reason to believe that the new Minister [for Health, Peter Dutton] is not committed to this incentive,” he said in the Guild’s Forefront newsletter today.

Telstra sees growth in Asia, e-Health, NAS and connectivity

By Owen Raskiewicz - October 15, 2013
Today Telstra (ASX: TLS) shareholders went to company’s AGM armed with over 1,600 questions on the NBN, remuneration, dividends and redundancies.
Chair Catherine Livingstone and CEO David Thodey passed briefly over redundancies and dividends, telling shareholders the telco has performed well and they expect dividends to be reviewed on a six-month basis in 2014. The future of the NBN remains largely unknown as a result of ongoing reviews within the NBN Co.
Telstra also defends its position on offshoring as the dynamics of the industry change, allowing more customer service online whilst improved standards means overseas call centres have no excuses regarding poor service. In addition Mr Thodey said, “Ultimately, our aim is to keep creating new jobs that are sustainable in an increasingly digital, mobile and global world, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Health Information Technology WA (HITWA) 2013

By Australian Ageing Agenda on September 18, 2013 in Conferences & Events
HITWA 2013 – WA’s premier e-health and health informatics event
•Friday, 8 November at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to attend the only dedicated event that deals specifically with the unique challenges and opportunities for e-health in Western Australia. You will hear from and network with national leaders and experts.
This year’s conference theme, “The Road to Reform: Challenges, Innovations and Success” brings together a diverse range of industry professionals and academics to share their knowledge and stories.

Quality health records in Australian primary healthcare - A guide

Quality health records in Australian primary healthcare: A guide was developed by an inter-professional Advisory Group in consultation with colleagues across the Australian primary healthcare sector. The guide is:
  • designed to assist health professionals produce, manage and use high quality health records that are fit for a range of purposes including safe clinical decision making, good communication with other health professionals, trustworthy partnerships with patients and effective continuity of patient care.
  • applicable to all health professionals operating in the Australian primary healthcare sector whether as solo practitioners, members of single-discipline practice teams, members of multidisciplinary practice teams or members of larger organisations.
  • comprehensive in covering electronic health record systems, paper-based health record systems and hybrid health record systems and describes a set of core principles and practical examples to illustrate particular principles in day-to-day clinical practice. 

Older people net savvy but web costs can leave them lonely

Date  October 15, 2013

Kate Hagan

Older Victorians with home internet are more connected to their families and communities but cost is a major barrier, leaving many isolated.
A VicHealth survey of 25,000 Victorians has highlighted a digital divide that is having a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of those aged 65 years and older.
The survey showed that use of the internet at home declined with age, with 98 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds having home access compared with 43 per cent of those older than 75.

Slow NBN rollout contributing to digital literacy deficit

"If you don't have the NBN, you won't generate the digital literacy to maximise the use of it," says Flinders University's associate head of ICT
The slow roll out of the National Broadband Network is contributing an ongoing digital literacy deficit across Australia, especially in telehealth, according to speakers at the Connected Australia event in Sydney.
“There's a lot of up-skilling to do, in particular at the home end or recipient end of healthcare. There's a notion of build it and they will come: If you don't have the NBN, you won't generate the digital literacy to maximise the use of it. So it's a little like chicken and egg,” said Professor Colin Carati, associate head of ICT at Flinders University.
Roy Monaghan, national telehealth delivery officer at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), agreed, saying the lack of reliable broadband in remote and rural Australia has contributed to a digital divide.

Stephen Conroy 'root cause' of NBN woes

  • Anthony Klan and Annabel Hepworth
  • The Australian
  • October 15, 2013 12:00AM
FORMER communications minister Stephen Conroy was the "root cause" of Labor's "abysmal" handling of the National Broadband Network, according to construction industry heavyweight David Chandler.
Mr Chandler, who was the deputy chairman of Labor's $14 million inquiry into the school buildings stimulus scheme, said Senator Conroy's attempt to blame NBN delays on contractors was an "awful attempt to rewrite history".
Addressing an Australian Computer Society event in Sydney on Friday, Senator Conroy cited a "failure of the construction industry to mobilise resources" for the NBN's woes.
But Mr Chandler said the NBN delays were a result of a lack of skills within the former communications department and an "arrogant indifference" from Senator Conroy's office regarding solving problems when they arose.

Fibre backers admit Labor NBN failures

SUPPORTERS of a fibre-to-the-home National Broadband Network agree that Labor's targets for the NBN were flawed and "overly ambitious".
Speaking at an Australian Computer Society luncheon last week, former communications minister Stephen Conroy admitted it was "undeniable" that NBN Co had failed to meet its targets and said he would not be barracking for his old job back on the opposition frontbench.
He said the fibre rollout was "significantly lagging due to the failure of the construction industry to mobilise resources" and nominated two major decisions that had impeded the NBN rollout.

Queensland Health seeks servers for UNIX hardware replacement project

Invitation for offer covers four buildings and has expected contract period of five years.
The Queensland Department of Health has invited bids to install servers for a UNIX hardware replacement project.
The UNIX project aims to upgrade the ICT powering healthcare services in the state, prioritising “critical failing or at capacity UNIX hardware” across the department, according to an invitation to offer dated 11 October.
Under the invitation, the department seeks a single supplier who can provide four SPARC T4-1 and eight SPARC T5-2 servers, Oracle standard system installation services and Oracle premier support. The tender covers four of the department’s buildings in the state and has an expected contract period of five years.

Obamacare portal suffers from common e-health government disorders

The Affordable Care Act site has malfunctioned due to scalability issues, political squabbling and unreasonable deadlines
The U.S. governments healthcare portal is under emergency care, afflicted by ailments that have sickened many government IT health systems worldwide.
Two weeks after it opened, users still struggle to gain access and sign up for insurance under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature legislation.
Financial, technical and managerial missteps caused the crisis, and fixing the US$400 million system could take up to two months, the New York Times wrote on Sunday.
The causes for the fiasco are varied and include unfeasible deadlines, scalability issues and bickering politicians.

Suzanne Robinson: Healthy change

Suzanne Robinson
Monday, 14 October, 2013
AUSTRALIA’S new federal government has a lot to do to improve population health and maintain Australia’s place as a high performing health care system.
Existing primary care services are fragmented and focused largely around general practice, hospital services are costly and overutilised, and the system fails to seriously focus on disease prevention and health promotion activity. There are also gaps and inequities in access to services and variations in health outcomes between different population groups.
The system is often criticised for being provider-centric rather than patient-focused.
There have also been some whisperings around the fate of Medicare Locals under a Coalition government.

Bionic man lives with artificial parts

  • AP
  • October 14, 2013 10:07AM
A TEAM of engineers has assembled a robot using artificial organs, limbs and other body parts that comes tantalizingly close to a true "bionic man."
The parts hail from 17 manufacturers around the world. This is the first time they've been assembled together, says Richard Walker, managing director of Shadow Robot Co. and the lead roboticist on the project.
"(It's) an attempt to showcase just how far medical science has gotten," he says.
The term "bionic man" was the stuff of science fiction in the 1970s, when a popular TV show called "The Six Million Dollar Man" chronicled the adventures of Steve Austin, a former astronaut whose body was rebuilt using artificial parts after he nearly died.
Walker says the robot has about 60 to 70 per cent of the function of a human. It stands six-and-a-half feet tall and can step, sit and stand with the help of a Rex walking machine that's used by people who've lost the ability to walk due to a spinal injury. It also has a functioning heart that, using an electronic pump, beats and circulates artificial blood, which carries oxygen just like human blood.

Microsoft releases Windows 8.1, a year in the making

Date October 17, 2013 - 12:10PM

Ryan Nakashima

Microsoft is releasing its long-awaited Windows 8.1 upgrade as a free download starting Thursday night.
It addresses some of the gripes people have had with Windows 8, the dramatically different operating system that attempts to bridge the divide between tablets and PCs.
Windows 8.1 still features the dual worlds that Windows 8 created when it came out last October.
On one hand, it features a touch-enabled tile interface resembling what's found in tablet computers.

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