Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 11th November, 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 there was really only one story this year. Below is all the comment and so on. Additionally we have a few interesting bits and pieces.
Next question is to see how a submission can be made. I note it is a little over 4 weeks until the report is due!

Unfixable: time to ditch personally controlled e-health record scheme

Federal health minister Peter Dutton has commissioned a review of Labor’s troubled Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project. It’s unclear whether the review committee is to decide whether to scrap the project altogether or to try and fix it. Hopefully it is not the latter because if the past year has taught us anything, it is that this is not a fixable problem. It needs to go.
The PCEHR project, which has cost A$1 billion so far, had earlier this year failed to meet a self-imposed target of 500,000 patients signed up by July 1. Of more concern was the lack of participation by GPs and the lack of any significant progress to meaningful use of the system.

Calls to continue funding e-health records system

Updated Wed 6 Nov 2013, 11:14am AEDT
The Hunter Medicare Local organisation says most local GPs are part of the e-health records system, and there is an increasing number of patients coming on board.
The Hunter region has had access to e-health for about four years and became a pilot site before the system was adopted nationally.
The Federal government this week announced a review of e-health saying the take-up has been too slow, both for patients and doctors.

PCEHR review to get e-health back on track

The review of electronic health records announced by the Minister for Health this week is a welcome opportunity to get e-health back on track.
The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) adventure started slowly, and then effectively stalled – at great cost to the taxpayer. It drastically needs a review and an overhaul so that it can develop as a truly national, effective system with tangible universal benefits for patients.
The three-member review panel includes AMA president Steve Hambleton. We congratulate Dr Hambleton on this appointment, all the more important as he is the only practicing clinician on the team. He knows the importance of medication history in any comprehensive health record.

Government launches e-health records review

Date November 4, 2013 - 4:08PM

Lia Timson

The federal government has announced an inquiry into Labor’s under-used $1 billion electronic health records system.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said so far only a few hundred doctors were uploading patients’ records into the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) database.
Australians wanting to consolidate their health records including medications, allergies, immunisations, doctor's and hospital notes and prescriptions, could apply online at from July 1, 2012, but the launch was met with a low initial uptake. Its aim was to achieve 500,000 patient records in the first year but it was dogged by glitches, and security concerns, and has reportedly fallen 100,000 short of the target.

Electronic health records rollout has not met expectations, Australian Medical Association says

October 4, 2013
The Australian Medical Association says the rollout of electronic health records has not met expectations.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has announced an independent review of the project to see how it can be improved.
AMA national president Dr Steve Hambleton, one of the panel members for the review, says e-health records need to be made easier for doctors to use.
"It's certainly timely to actually have a look at the e-health records and just see where it is, where it's going, whether it's actually achieved what it set out to do and what we need to do to actually make it work," he said.

eHealth review to probe private sector buy-in

By Australian Ageing Agenda on November 5, 2013 in Technology
By Julian Bajkowski 
The private sector and medical providers could soon have a much bigger say in how Australia’s ailing efforts to create a national system of electronic health and medical records unfolds.
The Abbott government has revealed it now wants substantial input on what non-government providers can contribute to make eHealth a reality after federal Health and Sports Minister Peter Dutton outlined the terms of reference for a new probe into what almost a decade of development has achieved – and what it hasn’t.
Announcing a review foreshadowed before the election, Mr Dutton said the Coalition government still “fully supports the concept of electronic health records but it must be fit for purpose and cost effective.”

Federal review of PCEHR program announced

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton this week announced a six-week review of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records program, to be chaired by Richard Royle who is currently Executive Director of the UnitingCare Health group in Queensland.
The review panel will comprise Royle, AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton and Andrew Walduck, who is Chief Information Officer of Australia Post.
The Panel’s Terms of reference include implementation and uptake, with other areas of investigation cited including usability, the level of consultation with end users, use of the PCEHR in clinical settings and the barriers to its increase, the potential to integrate comparable private sector products and potential future role of private sector solutions.

E-health scandal costing $200,000 a patient: Dutton

4th Nov 2013
THE federal government is set to launch an inquiry into Labor's underused $1 billion electronic health records system.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said the system cost $1 billion but so far only a few hundred doctors were uploading patients' records into it.
He said this was another Labor problem, although not in the same league as the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Mr Dutton said there were savings to be made in the health budget through the electronics records system.

Poor GP uptake sparks e-health record review

4 November, 2013 Nick O'Donoghue
GPs’ failure to embrace the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) is behind the Federal Government’s decision to launch a review of the project.
A review of the PCEHR was promised by the Coalition during the election campaign, when it criticised Labor’s failure to deliver the program, “despite the $1 billion price tag”.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has previously backed a review of the PCEHR, with Kos Sclavos, former national president, saying there were “some significant mistakes and missed opportunities” with current system.

Labor’s e-health ‘scandal’ cost $1bn

4 November, 2013
Joanna Heath
Health Minister Peter Dutton has launched an inquiry into the former Labor government’s e-health records system, after what he described as a poor take-up by doctors and patients.
“The problem is that the former ­government spent about a billion dollars in this area and the number of people that are actively using the record numbers in the thousands,” Mr Dutton said on Sky News on Sunday.
“There are only a few hundred doctors that are actually uploading details into people’s files and it has been a ­scandal. So on those numbers, it runs out at about $200,000 a patient in terms of the investment the former ­government made.”

Labor ignored multiple e-health alerts

LABOR pushed ahead with its troubled e-health project despite repeated warnings the billion-dollar scheme was flawed.
As federal Health Minister Peter Dutton yesterday described the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record as "meaningless", documents obtained by The Australian under Freedom of Information laws give new insight into the failure of this technological revolution.
In June - a month before the PCEHR was expected to reach Labor's target of 500,000 registrations in its first 12 months - the board of the National E-Health Transition Authority was warned the PCEHR could not be used properly in a clinical setting. The admission laid bare the lack of acceptance by GPs and clinics who were expected to input patient information and data.

Australia's 'struggling' e-health records under review

Summary: The Australian government has announced an inquiry into the rollout of the AU$1 billion e-health record system implemented under the former government.
By Josh Taylor | November 3, 2013 -- 22:13 GMT (09:13 AEST)
Health Minister Peter Dutton has announced a short review into Australia's "struggling" AU$1 billion Personally Controlled E-Health Record project over its failure to attract doctors to participate.
Since 2011, the former Labor government, in conjunction with the states, has invested over AU$1 billion in the e-health program aimed at improving patient care through making it easier for healthcare providers to access and share information about a patient throughout the medical system.
Unlike the current problems affecting the US government's healthcare website, Australia's e-health system faced the opposite problem: Very little interest from the public and doctors in signing up.

'Avoid blame game in review': doctors' plea on e-health inquiry

HEALTH minister Peter Dutton's inquiry into the troubled $1 billion electronic health records system has been widely welcomed, with doctors urging the government to avoid playing the "blame game" by pointing the finger at Labor.
Mr Dutton announced the review at the weekend that will be headed by UnitingCare Health Queensland chief Richard Royle and supported by Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton and Australia Post chief information officer Andrew Walduck.
The panel will examine the level of consultation with end users and stakeholder groups during development, gaps between expectations and what has been delivered, and what needs to be done to fix the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

Govt to probe e-health record's rollout

Review to examine possible private sector role for PCEHR
The former Labor government's rollout of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record "has wasted over a billion dollars," according to federal health minister Peter Dutton.
Dutton yesterday announced a review into the current status and future of the PCEHR program. The review will be led by Richard Royle, executive director of the UnitingCare Health group in Queensland and vice-president of the Australian Private Hospitals Association.
Working with Royle will be AMA chief Dr Steve Hambleton and Australia Post CIO Andrew Walduck.

Your e-health record – a good idea? (Video)

I am sure many agreed with Health Minister Peter Dutton when he called the Australian e-health record system a scandal. The PCEHR review is under way and the Australian Medical Association is on board. The review committee will take public submissions.

Budget cuts slow work at NSW information commission

No time left to champion citizen’s information rights.

Employee numbers at the NSW Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) have slipped below the bare minimum that the former information commissioner warned was required to meet the agency’s legislative requirements.
Deirdre O’Donnell, who retired as Information Commissioner in July, wrote to the NSW parliamentary committee overseeing the IPC’s operations earlier this year with the “firm view” that the agency needed a minimum of 28.5 full-time equivalent staff to “fulfil our legislative obligations as an accountability agency that also champions citizen’s privacy and access to government information rights.”
An operational review in 2012 sparked a voluntary redundancy program designed to return the agency's budget operating statement into surplus over the forward estimates.

Robotic prostate surgery: keyhole to the future

Date November 5, 2013

Lucy Cormack

The uptake of robotic prostate surgery is growing worldwide, but opinion on its efficiency is divided.
When urologist Justin Vass scrubs in for surgery, he and his team are not alone. These days they are joined by surgical robot, the da Vinci.
At first glance, the da Vinci appears like a man-made praying mantis. It comprises a surgeon console, a patient-side cart with four interactive robotic arms and offers 10-times three-dimensional visual magnification.
I think the jury is still out. 

NEHTA's Annual Report 2012-13 is now available

Created on Tuesday, 05 November 2013
NEHTA's Annual Report 2012-13 is now available and can be downloaded from NEHTA Annual Report 2012-13 (6.76 MB).
The National E-Health Transition Authority was established in 2005 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to help transform Australia’s health system by building the foundations for a national eHealth infrastructure.  In 2010 the Commonwealth Government appointed NEHTA as the managing agent for the personally controlled electronic health record system (eHealth record system).

NEHTA books $74m loss

  • Fran Foo
  • Australian IT
  • November 05, 2013 4:57PM
THE National E-health Transition Authority has registered a $74 million loss for the year ending June 30 compared with a $91m surplus the previous year.
Consultants cost an additional $14m in 2013 or $73m in total, as opposed to $59m last year.
NEHTA paid around $7m less for contractors, from around $20m to $13m this year.
Salaries and on-costs decreased from $43m to $33m over the 12 months to June.

Come clean on Medicare Locals Dutton told

5th Nov 2013
FEDERAL Health Minister Peter Dutton has been accused of backing away from Prime Minister Tony Abbott's election commitment not to close down Medicare Local facilities.
During the election campaign, Mr Abbott pledged the coalition would not shut any Medicare Locals, only to later clarify the statement by saying he couldn't guarantee they would "stay exactly the same".
The coalition has promised to review the 61 Medicare Locals, which were set up by the former Labor government to coordinate local primary healthcare services in communities.

Cambridge device could identify fake meds, goods

  • AAP
  • November 07, 2013 12:00AM
A NEW device to help identify counterfeit goods could help combat the fake drugs trade and save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
The United Nations says about 700,000 people die every year after being administered fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs.
About 100,000 deaths a year in Africa are linked to the billion dollar trade, which often includes substances like chalk or flour being passed off as live-saving treatments.
It is almost impossible to identify such treatments using the naked eye but researchers say the new laser “watermark” could be used to stop the illegal trade.

NIB site to rate health experts

Date November 8, 2013 - 12:07AM

Madeleine Heffernan

Health insurer NIB is launching on Friday a controversial and long-mooted website that rates and compares allied health professionals such as dentists, optometrists and chiropractors.
Previous plans for comparison sites have been shouted down by industry bodies, but NIB is confident its site will be popular among its 900,000 policyholders and the public.
The site, flagged by BusinessDay in October, provides information on 30,000 providers in Australia to which it has provided rebates through its "extras" policies.

Controversial health website launched

  • November 08, 2013
PRIVATE health fund nib has launched a controversial website that allows patients to rate the cost and service levels of health practitioners.
The searchable Whitecoat website is open to all Australians and lists 30,000 "extras" providers such as optometrists, dentists and chiropractors.
"Whitecoat represents a new way of connecting consumers and providers," says the fund's Rhod McKensey.
It is particularly useful for people who have moved to a new area or need a treatment for the first time.

Website to rate health staff

A WEBSITE rating more than 30,000 allied health professionals will be launched today by insurer NIB, less than a fortnight after it confirmed plans to enter the medical tourism market next year.
The Australian revealed two years ago that NIB wanted to use Medicare data for its Whitecoat ratings website, sparking an outcry that ultimately forced the insurer back to the drawing board.

Proper guidelines are benefiting Government’s telehealth initiative: LifeSize

Unified communications vendor sees stricter rules around telehealth benefiting the initiative
The Federal Government’s telehealth initiative may not have achieved its intended goal, but LifeSize A/NZ country manager, Gerry Forsythe, said that is finally changing.
“With no real guidelines behind it, the one-off incentive payment of $6000 was not really taken on properly, though it is coming together now,” he said.
In 2011, the Federal Government introduced an initiative to encourage the use of telehealth by offering an incentive payment of $6000 to medical practitioners.
However, the rules were tightened and funding was reduced in 2012 following a less than anticipated uptake of telehealth.

Superbug tracking app hits top medical spot in Apple's App Store

The superbug tracking app has been accessed more than 300,000 times
An application that uses big data to enable clinicians to track superbug transmission in their region has reached 100,000 downloads in less than a month.
In its first week, the " Bugs + Drugs" app, created by medical software vendor Epocrates, shot to the number one free medical app spot in Apple's App Store when it was released last month.
The app was created to track antibiotic resistant bacteria or "superbugs" such as e.coli and staph.

Question: When should you adopt FHIR?

Posted on November 5, 2013 by Grahame Grieve
Need your opinion on this matter of encouraging people to adopt FHIR for national programs/ national standards for healthcare exchange.
What will be your counter arguments if some cowboys say
  1. FHIR is still new, we will wait and see till it matures.
  2. Standard Development is cumbersome process, and it takes extremely long time for them to incorporate new requirements. It is much faster to cook our own unique xml to suit our requirements.
You talked about XML cowboys on your website in the past – hopefully you can provide much stronger fire power after two years spent developing FHIR.
Well, FHIR is still new, and it will change. The “DSTU” that is coming out soon will be a Draft Standard undergoing Trial use, and users should expect breaking change after trail use. Right now, users that are risk adverse should consider long and hard before using FHIR. Implementing bleeding edge standards is a process that involves the shedding of a great deal of blood – and early adopters of FHIR will be have additional costs due to change in FHIR that people who wait the process out won’t.

COAG 'fails to deliver on reforms'

FEDERAL and state leaders have failed to meet targets to lift economic growth and improve services for taxpayers, in a bleak verdict on the national reform agenda as Tony Abbott prepares for a crucial first council with premiers and chief ministers.
Ringing the alarm on stalled promises, the agency that monitors national reforms will warn today that Australians are not getting the boost to education, health and indigenous welfare pledged by governments five years ago.
The warning will come with a call for Canberra and the states to overhaul national agreements worth billions of dollars to get dozens of major changes back on track.

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