Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 18th 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

This week it has been all about the PCEHR review. I am sure may people are busily preparing their submissions for the review. They are due on the 22nd November.
Other than that there is a good range of other things happening so enjoy the browse.

Labor promised so much, delivered so little, on e-health

WORLDWIDE, e-health has been recognised as one of the means of enabling governments to maximise healthcare spend.
Barack Obama called it the "low hanging fruit" and former health minister Nicola Roxon assured Australia that "e-health promises change that will transform Australia's healthcare".
Implemented properly there is little doubt that healthcare co-ordination can be improved.
So what happened over the past two years and 11 months to result in Health Minister Peter Dutton's announcement that more than $1 billion was wasted by the previous Labor government?

Billion dollar e-health needs targeted approach to rescue

12th Nov 2013
THE multimillion-dollar personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system can still be salvaged if a Coalition review is properly targeted, according to e-health experts.
However, former National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) clinical leads who spoke to MO following the announcement of the review last week said significant usability issues had to be overcome.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said Labor had “wasted over a billion dollars in its failed attempt” to build the PCEHR.

PCEHR inquiry unlikely to recommend killing scheme

Lead talks up data analytics opportunities.

The man tasked with reviewing the government’s personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), Richard Royle, said he and his team have no plans to “kill off” the scheme.
Royle, who heads up the Queensland operations of private healthcare provider UnitingCare, has been asked by new federal health minister Peter Dutton to chair an inquiry into the PCEHR rollout commenced by Dutton’s Labor predecessors.
The intention of the review is to address usability issues and to boost clinical confidence in the system, Royle said.
He said he would also have to remain mindful of the government’s expenditure on the new technology going forward.

Tasmania lays foundations for e-health overhaul

The state's 2012-2016 Connected Care strategy is laying the basis for better integration with national e-health programs, such as the PCEHR, according to the health department's deputy CIO
Tasmania's Department of Health and Human Services has gone to market seeking foundational building blocks for an ICT strategy that will drive better outcomes and options for patients, according to the department's deputy CIO.
The department is currently guided by a multi-year ICT strategy which it put in place last year and labelled 'Connected Care', explains Tim Blake.
"We decided when we started developing [Connected Care] about 12 months ago that we needed a new brand – something that spoke powerfully to what we wanted to achieve," he says.
"Connected Care I think is fairly clear: It's the idea we need to co-ordinate or integrate the way that we care for our patients across the whole health system. So that's from primary care, into emergency departments, in-patient contexts, outpatients, community health – all of those things, over time, we need to integrate."

eHealth isn't rocket science, says former rocket scientist

Professor Michael Georgeff says that implementing a web-based chronic disease management program for primary care teams is “not rocket science.”
He should know; although he’s now the Chief Executive Officer of Precedence Health Care, which developed the cdmnet program, Prof Georgeff formerly worked on NASA’s space shuttle, when he was Program Director at SRI International in the USA, where he helped create the first “intelligent software agents” to control the shuttle.
He will be delivering a Plenary Address at this Friday’s annual Australian Medicare Local Alliance National Primary Health Care Conference 2013, speaking about integrating care in the primary health care setting through eHealth.

The Power, the Glory and the Dangers of structured health data

2013-November-12 | 11:03 By: Filed in:
It is now over eighteen months since I publicly aired my grave concerns regarding a  critical safety issue for Australia’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) system, which centred around the lack of scrutiny of the quality of data in CDA documents to be contributed to people’s records. I have no idea if anyone other than Grahame Grieve took my concerns seriously. Certainly, no-one else has ever contacted me regarding the serious safety and quality issues I raised at the time, least of all NEHTA.
But it does appear that safety and quality issues have been getting slightly more attention in recent months than they did 18 months ago – at least in Australia. And on this front, I have some further good news.
By way of background, for most of that 18 months I was working for SA Health on the integration and migration of ( mainly Adelaide-based public ) hospital systems to work with a new potentially statewide public hospital EMR and Patient Administration System known affectionately as EPAS. The network’s “central” components comprise a number of Allscripts Sunrise products, an Intersystems Ensemble Integration Engine, and an Enterprise Patient Master Index built around the IBM  Initiate EMPI product. It is undoubtedly one of Australia’s largest health system integration undertakings, with over 200 interfaces supported by the single integration engine. I was responsible for the specification and documentation of many of these interfaces and for testing a number of key ones, including much of the integration with EPAS. Nearly all of the interfaces use  some variant of HL7 v2.3.1. I  became acutely aware of the structural and semantic issues associated with integration on this scale, and even more so with the issues pertaining to codes and code mapping. The primary clinical system, Sunrise Clinical Manager, alone has well over a thousand code tables (Dictionaries) many of which were in a cyclical state of flux during the configuration and testing phases of the project. Over 10,000 new codes were introduced just to describe patient locations – hospitals, campuses, wards, rooms, beds, chairs etc. in a uniform fashion. The integration task was, and still probably is, a herculean task. We had full time team of 12 involved.

The SNOMED CT-AU November 2013 release is now available for download

Created on Friday, 15 November 2013
The release can be downloaded from:

Electronic health records will make it easier to save a life

Date November 11, 2013
How could 22 doctors overlook the signs that one man was suffering from a serious drug addiction? Nathan Attard, 34, died alone, in an apartment infested with stray animals and filled with rubbish and drug paraphernalia, a Sydney coroner's court has heard. Doctors had prescribed him an array of medication including Xanax, morphine, Seroquel and Valium.
After the conclusion of the inquest into Attard's death, Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes is expected to recommend a statewide computerised system that would allow doctors and pharmacists to share information and detect patients who are prescription shopping. Such a system is overdue. For years health authorities have been calling for an electronic prescription monitoring system, without result.

About CareMonkey

CareMonkey is a parent controlled electronic medical form used by schools and clubs.
The information in the CareMonkey application is secure and backed up daily. Only the school, club or people you specifically choose can see your personal health and safety information. The data is hosted on commercially available, reliable and secure systems in Australia and USA.
CareMonkey is designed, built and supported by CareMonkey Pty Ltd, a software company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. The team behind CareMonkey are distributed around the globe from Australia to Argentina to India and Philippines.

Complexity of Standards – Updated

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Grahame Grieve
Someone asked me to update the diagram, from The Complexity Of Standards:
A rough plot of the internal complexity of the standard (y, log) vs the complexity of content that the technique/standard describes
They wanted to know where FHIR sits on the graph. Well, here’s a guess:

IBM to let firms tap supercomputer Watson's brain

Date November 15, 2013 - 1:47PM

Alex Barinka

IBM's Watson technology, famous for outsmarting humans on the US game show Jeopardy!, will be offered as a cloud-based tool to application developers, letting them tap a resource capable of giving everything from shopping tips to medical advice.
Programmers will be able to access the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, an online marketplace with resources for developing apps, use a content store with data from third-party providers and get help from IBM and contracted professionals, the Armonk, New York-based company said in a statement on Thursday in the US.
“There is so much more that can be accomplished by drawing on the creativity of individuals, organisations, entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses that truly innovate every day on their own,” said Stephen Gold, vice president of Watson Solutions, in an interview. “Watson can be this ultimate assistant to help individuals get their questions answered and their problems solved.”

Self-healing computers will change the world: Jeff Hawkins

Date November 11, 2013 - 10:45AM

Matthew Hall

In one man's vision of the future, helpdesks and IT departments will be redundant because computers mimicking the human brain will self-heal.
That's if Jeff Hawkins has his way. A neuroscientist who previously founded mobile computing companies Palm and Handspring, Hawkins is developing software that mimics the human brain and can currently correct computer glitches without human intervention.
"It's not an easy field," Hawkins cautioned but the pay-off is technology that he believes will eventually change the way the world works.
Hawkins' product is called Grok and is machine intelligence software based on the brain's neo-cortex – the grey matter that deals with sensory perception, motor commands, and language among other functions. Machine intelligence is, Hawkins claims, the next big thing in the development of computing technology.

Glasziou, the HANDI-man

11 November, 2013 Amanda Davey
It may have been launched just last month, but HANDI, the first online formulary for non-drug interventions appears to have been readily embraced by GPs, if online traffic activity is any indication.
Developed to ensure doctors have easy access to information on non-drug interventions, HANDI is the brainchild of GP Dr Paul Glasziou (pictured) who says take-up rates for the online manual have been encouraging.
"We developed HANDI because patients are increasingly asking about and wanting non-drug interventions but for GPs this sort of information can be difficult to find, let alone implement without instructions," he said. 

Biometrics means world without passwords

  • AAP
  • November 14, 2013 12:00AM
YOU may never need to memorise another password. That's the goal of researchers at Purdue University's International Centre for Biometrics Research.
Stephen Elliott is the director of international biometric research at Purdue University in Indiana. He says iris and fingerprint scans as well as facial and voice recognition are just a few of the tools that improve security while making lives easier.

DoH spends $848K monitoring media

14 November, 2013 Antonio Bradley
The Federal Department of Health has defended spending at least $848,000 to monitor the media in the past financial year.
The revelation emerged last Thursday, five months after Senator Dean Smith asked the department to detail its media monitoring spending during a Senate Estimates committee.
The department said it spent the money between July 2012 and May 2013, by contracting a company to take press clippings and produce electronic media transcripts, among other services.
The $848,000 was spent out of a total budget for media monitoring of $926,000 for the financial year.

Panel: Hospitals are just starting to build health IT foundations

Better care will also mean patients using devices at home
Health care providers are just beginning to figure out how big data, mobile platforms and integrated software can deliver better care at lower costs, according to speakers at The Economist's Health Care Forum in Boston.
Talk of using large-scale data analysis to develop customized treatment plans is premature since most health care providers are still edging toward joining the big-data movement, said Charlie Schick, IBM's director of big data, healthcare and life sciences, during a panel discussion at the Tuesday event.
"The reality is hospitals are early on in analysis maturity," he said. "They're trying to answer questions required by the government. Big data is a buzzword."

Educators hope to recoup funds from troubled Ultranet

Date November 11, 2013

Benjamin Preiss

The Education Department is negotiating to get a cut from sales of the failed schools Ultranet system amid plans to sell the network overseas.
The department is handing over the network to NEC Australia, which had a contract to run the system until the end of this year.
An Education Department spokesman said negotiations with NEC included the ''consideration of royalties''.

Labor told of $31bn NBN risk

  • The Australian
  • November 16, 2013 12:00AM
A SECRET review of the NBN prepared for the Gillard government almost three years ago estimated it would leave taxpayers up to $31 billion worse off and warned of major risks in the plan, many of which were later realised.
The Weekend Australian has learned that the review by investment bank Lazard found the project would confront construction problems leading to cost increases for the building phase.
It also found that the project - once touted by the former Labor government as ideal for "mum and dad investors" - was so risky that no private investors would stump up the capital.
It is believed Lazard had raised concerns about Telstra's involvement under a multi-billion-dollar deal transferring many risks associated with the project from Telstra's books to NBN Co, while leaving Telstra with the option of competing against the NBN - yet still receiving funds from it - after 20 years.

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