Monday, March 03, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 3rd March, 2014.

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

The fun this week was Senate Estimates and the redoubtable Adjunct Professor Halton among other bureaucrats.
Other than that we have astonishing news on the lack of progress of the NBN and the costs so far and an increased tempo of warnings on the imminence on the arrival of major changes to Privacy rules.
This has prompted Coles to tell us.

Sharing of personal information

To make it easy for you to deal with other Wesfarmers group companies (including flybuys) and provide you with a more personal and consistent experience, we may exchange and combine personal information with them for the purposes described in our respective privacy policies.
We and Wesfarmers group companies may exchange your personal information with service providers engaged to assist with services including data processing, data analysis, information broking, credit reporting, online computing, printing, contact management, legal, accounting, business consulting, marketing, research, auditing, archival, delivery, security, investigation and mailing services, and in the provision of Coles-branded products and services such as payment cards and insurance..
The third parties to whom we disclose personal information may be located in Australia and other countries including Argentina, China, Canada, Hungary, India, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, UAE, United Kingdom and United States of America.  We take steps to ensure that our service providers are obliged to protect the privacy and security of your personal information and use it only for the purpose for which it is disclosed.
Here is link.
One question. Why?  Points for honesty however!

Govt may bury PCEHR review

28th Feb 2014
THE fate of a review into the much criticised personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) remains uncertain, with assistant health minister Fiona Nash raising doubts as to whether its findings would be made public.
The report, ordered by Health Minister Peter Dutton late last year, was handed to the minister’s office in late December.
However, it was reported this morning that when questioned over whether the report would be released, Ms Nash “couldn’t say if the findings would be made public”.
Mr Dutton’s office has since confirmed with MO that the minister has the report and that it remains under consideration.
However, MO’s subsequent queries about the report being made public and a potential deadline for its release received no direct answers.

Slow take up for e-health records

A LITTLE over 1 per cent of participants have used the $1 billion taxpayer-funded e-health records system to upload medical information nearly two years after it was launched.
The participation figure is generous at best since the Health Department is in the dark as to the actual number of individuals who have shared health summaries in the system.
Shared health summaries contain medical information such as diagnoses, allergies and medications and patients can have more than one summary.
Linda Powell, first assistant secretary, e-health division at Health said the PCEHR had 15,544 shared health summaries. The system has around 1.4 million registered users.

E-health record signup boost on back of public hospital push

Summary: A total of 1.4 million Australians have registered for an e-health record as public hospitals have been increasingly encouraging patients to sign up for the service.
By Josh Taylor | February 27, 2014 -- 01:31 GMT (12:31 AEST)
Take-up of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) in Australia is on the rise, with 1.4 million customers registering for the service as of February 26.
Health Department e-health division first assistant secretary Linda Powell told Senate Estimates last night that 1.4 million consumers have registered since the launch in mid-2012, with the bulk of registrations coming from New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.
The drive in take-up, which is up from 900,000 in November last year, was largely due to public hospitals registering patients, she said. A total of 155 public hospitals across Australia are now using the system to upload discharge summaries.
Department secretary Jane Halton said that the public hospitals have been critical in getting customers on board.

Medibank e-health closure bad news, says MSIA

THE Medical Software Industry Association has expressed disappointment at Medibank’s decision to close healthbook, its online personal health record system developed as part of the troubled $1 billion personally controlled e-health records program.
Medibank received $7.5 million in government funding as a Wave 2 site for the PCEHR system.
According to the insurer, people can store medical records securely and privately with healthbook. They can also choose to share it with family, friends or a Medibank nurse at no extra cost to members participating in a Better Health program.

Legal documents, account numbers found on recycled hard drives

Results “very disturbing”, says CEO of National Association for Information Destruction
Fifteen out of 52 computer hard drives purchased by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) Australia were found to have highly sensitive personal data including bank account details, medical information and home addresses.
The hard drives were taken to a forensic investigator, Insight Intelligence, who was able to easily extract the information. Some of the data included the legal case records of a family dispute, email files from a medical facility and signed documents granting access to business and personal emails from a Justice of the Peace.
NAID CEO Bob Johnson said the results were “very disturbing” in light of the Privacy Act reforms which are coming into law on 12 March 2014.

The OAIC's enforcement approach to new privacy laws from 12 March 2014 — Statement from the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner

28 February 2014
Significant changes to the Privacy Act 1988 will commence on 12 March 2014. The changes include a new set of harmonised Australian Privacy Principles (or APPs) that will replace the two sets of principles that currently apply to Australian Government agencies and to businesses. There will also be changes to credit reporting, including the introduction of a more ‘comprehensive credit reporting’ system and a simplified and enhanced correction and complaints process. The reforms also include new enforcement powers and remedies in relation to investigations.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has adopted an enforcement approach to the reforms which recognises that Australian Government agencies and businesses are working hard to implement the new requirements. Our compliance focus in the months following 12 March 2014 will be on working with entities to ensure that they understand the new requirements and have the systems in place to meet them. In resolving matters brought to the attention of the OAIC we will take into account the steps taken by entities to genuinely prepare for the changes and to comply with the new legal requirements.

Queensland in the slow lane on fixing 'clunker' IT systems

Date February 25, 2014 - 5:30AM

Sylvia Pennington

While plans to offload its commercial technology services arm CITEC are on track, the Queensland government has yet to produce a replacement schedule for major ICT systems it condemned as dangerously moribund two years ago.
An audit ordered by former Information Technology Minister Ros Bates in May 2012 identified 997 software and hardware flaws, whose replacement costs were put as high as $6 billion.
Replaced herself by current incumbent Ian Walker a year ago after a trouble prone stint at the helm, Ms Bates likened the state's IT infrastructure to a "1972 Ford Falcon clunker".
Significant systems slated for replacement were due to be prioritised by the end of 2013 but the government has not yet produced a comprehensive list of forthcoming projects.

Security experts slam new privacy guidelines

SECURITY experts have slammed new privacy law guidelines which they claim sends a weak message and lets businesses off the hook should they fall prey to hackers.
However, legal experts say it isn’t an open-and-shut case.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner last week released the Australian Privacy Principles guidelines which is a crucial tool to March 12 when new privacy laws kick in.
Agencies and companies can be fined up to $1.7 million and individuals $340,000 for serious or repeated invasions of privacy.
Phil Kernick, CQR national head of information security, said the guidance “wildly underwhelms me since businesses won’t be held liable if they get hacked”

Computer model to take strain out of flu

GERMAN scientists have harnessed physics to fight the flu, creating a computer model to help vaccine designers keep a step ahead of new strains.
Theoretical physicists from the University of Cologne have worked out a way of predicting how flus will evolve a year in advance. The new approach, reported today in the journal Nature, is based on an analysis of almost 4000 historical strains of influenza A virus.
Influenza A is one of the main seasonal flus that infect up to 15 per cent of the global population each year, killing up to 50,000 people in the US alone.

Digital divide still an issue for low income earners

Date February 26, 2014

Mahesh Sharma

Technology reporter

New ABS figures show internet penetration rates are still closely aligned with income.
Access to the internet in Australia continues to be a case of the haves and have-nots – although the gap is narrowing, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The new report released on Tuesday shows 97 per cent of those earning $120,000 or more are internet users, compared with 77 per cent of those earning less than $40,000 a year.
The findings, based on figures for the 2012-2013 financial year, have implications for the online provision of government, education and other services.
Of the 7.3 million households with internet access, the majority (93 per cent) had a broadband connection, 4 per cent had a dial-up connection and 3 percent didn't know.

What’s wrong with Patient Testimonials?

Here’s a multiple choice question for you:
Which post on the wall of the doctor’s Facebook page must be deleted? (Note: ‘Doctor’ can be replaced with ‘health professional’)
a. They made me wait for an hour and when I finally saw the doctor she rushed through the consultation and didn’t seem to care. I will never go to this practice again.
b. Thank you doctor for your kindness and excellent care. We are so glad our daughter has recovered; we will not forget what you have done for her.
The right answer should be: neither post. Good social media etiquette requires a response; deleting posts is generally not recommended. The real answer is: b.
By now most of us are familiar with the risks of social media. It is unfortunate that yet another peril has been added to the list: Australian Doctor magazine reported that doctors can be fined $5000 if a patient posts a testimonial on the doctor’s Facebook wall or other social media platform.

DVA In-Home Telemonitoring for Veterans Trial extended to the North Coast

Written by Staff
Published: 01 March 2014
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) In-Home Telemonitoring for Veterans Trial that started late last year in Armidale and Toowoomba has been extended to the NSW North Coast. The trial aims to determine if telemonitoring is a safe, effective and efficient complement to face-to-face GP consultations, and will contribute to providing better care for DVA Gold Card holders with high risk for admission. Veterans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery heart disease or diabetes will have access to videoconferencing and remote monitoring of their vital signs by their usual surgery’s chronic disease nurse.
The trial, which will run until June 2015 extends the Department's existing Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program. This program has proven very popular on the North Coast and provides funding to support coordinated care for eligible at risk DVA patients. Both projects hope to catch a deterioration in a patient's condition early so that emergency and possibly prolonged hospital admissions can be avoided. 

#FHIR and confusion about the 80/20 rule

Posted on February 28, 2014 by Grahame Grieve
One of the most common misconceptions out there about the FHIR is about the 80/20 rule we use when debating whether fields should be included in resources.
This is how I often hear it formulated:
FHIR only includes 80% of the elements that are used
But this is not correct – it’s not how the rule is formulated. This implies that the intent is to limit functionality, to ensure that it won’t actually work properly. That we prefer simplicity over actually solving the problem properly (e.g. we are externalising the complexity).
That’s not the intent at all. The intent absolutely is that FHIR supports 100% of the functionality that people use.

Greg Wells crowned Healthcare CIO of the Year

Life-saving potential of NSW-built platform honoured.

Former NSW Health CIO Greg Wells was named Healthcare CIO of the Year in Melbourne last night, in front of 160 of his peers attending the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Wells was recognised for his work leading the establishment of NSW Health's HeatheNet platform, an application that interfaces between a multitude of hospital-based databases to automatically generate a simple, single portal for the clinician.
HealtheNet retrieves relevant data from any number of NSW health databases to a window tailored to each clinical specialty.

Guild defends one-off pharmacy health checks

26 February, 2014 Christie Moffat
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has defended a proposed in-store health check scheme for pharmacies, in response to an article published in The Conversation which claims that the scheme will not be effective in achieving integrated care.
Peter Breadon, Senior Associate at the Grattan Institute, outlined his concerns for the proposed program in the article, and emphasised that pharmacists need to do more than just one-off health checks.
“A one-off check would do little to achieve integrated care. It would basically leave us with the same old model, missing an opportunity to adapt to the rise of chronic disease,” Mr Breadon said.
“A growing number of people have chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease – and they’re increasingly likely to have multiple health problems. 

The AMT 2.53 release is now available for download

Created on Friday, 28 February 2014
The AMT 2.53 release can be downloaded from the NEHTA website.

NBN’s $7bn bill for 3pc of network

ALMOST $7 billion of government funds have been ploughed into the National Broadband Network to complete just 3 per cent of the rollout and NBN Co’s much-vaunted “Gigabit Nation” service does not have a single end-user customer.
NBN Co made the revelation about the turbocharged one-gigabit service during Senate estimates hearings yesterday, which Labor’s former communications minister Stephen Conroy had boasted would help drive productivity growth and create the jobs of the future.
It also emerged there was only one end customer on NBN Co’s 250 megabits-per-second service - which is one quarter of the speed of the gigabit service - in a fillip to the Coalition’s model of a cheaper, slower NBN.
While Labor had planned to provide super-fast optic fibre to the premises of 93 per cent of Australian homes, the Coalition is favouring fibre-to-the-node and will use Telstra’s existing copper network for the final few hundred metres to homes.

NBN fix costing $7300 per user

  • The Australian
  • February 27, 2014 12:00AM
TAXPAYERS have been spending about $7300 per user to subsidise poorly performing satellite broadband services, the Coalition has declared, as NBN Co advances plans to fix problems with the service.
NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski told a heated Senate estimates committee hearing on Tuesday that the interim satellite service left some people in regional and remote communities with services that were “subsistence level in a broadband world”.
Under the previous government, NBN Co purchased bandwidth on two satellites for $351 million to provide temporary services.
Dr Switkowski said some of the program “could until recently be criticised for not having been thought through in terms of some of the detail”.

What if We’ve Completely Misunderstood Our Place in the Universe?

A Harvard astronomer has a provocative hunch about what happened after the Big Bang.

Our universe is about 13 billion years old, and for roughly 3.5 billion of those years, life has been wriggling all over our planet. But what was going on in the universe before that time? It’s possible that there was a period shortly after the Big Bang when the entire universe was teeming with life. Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb calls this period the “habitable epoch,” and he believes that its existence changes how humans should understand our place in the cosmos.
We have one snapshot of life in the early universe, taken about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. This image is known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), and it’s what astronomers see when they aim their telescopes at the farthest edges of space, capturing light that has been traveling through the universe for billions of years—and from billions of years ago. Remember, light takes a while to reach Earth (it travels at only 186,000 miles per second), so the starlight you see in the sky at night is often thousands of years old. The CMB is a lot older than that. It’s from the time when the universe hadn’t yet developed stars.

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