Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 19th May, 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

Obviously the big news in e-Health is that the Government has found $140m or so to keep the PCEHR going until they can work out what to do.
An amazing and unexpected outcome. I really thought we would have got an clear idea of what was going to happen in the Budget. Interestingly is seems ePIP and some Telehealth funding is going on for another year as well but the Medicare Local e-Health funding is ending.
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Budget 2014: PCEHR on ‘short leash’

THE Abbott government will provide $21 million to maintain the troubled $1 billion personally controlled e-health records system but there’s nothing in the kitty beyond 2014/15.
It remains unclear what the government plans to do with the PCEHR with a review into the program suppressed by the Department of Health.
The future of the National E-health Transition Authority is also murky.
The review was 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.
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Trouble plagued eHealth project gets $140 million to continue pending review

By Julian Bajkowski on May 13, 2014 in Federal, Finance
Few cross-jurisdictional government projects offer the massive returns or decade-long grinding frustration that eHealth has delivered to its stakeholders.
But with health costs ballooning, the Abbott government was never going to write off more than $1 billion in sunken costs and axe the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record, despite the lack of conspicuous success to date.
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Budget 2014: E-health records system gets $141m to continue on

Summary: Australia's e-health system will push on in its current form while the federal government plans a response to a recent review into the system.
By Chris Duckett | May 13, 2014 -- 10:06 GMT (20:06 AEST)
Until the Australian federal government, and its Minister for Health Peter Dutton respond to the recently completed review into Australia's personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) system, the PCEHR will push on with AU$140.6m in funding for this financial year.
Perceived as an underutilised system, earlier this year it was revealed in Senate Estimates that the system had moved from 900,000 registered users in November 2013 to 1.4 million customers by late February 2014.
Dutton, however, aimed up at the lack of clinicians using the system, what he labelled as a rushed implementation by the former government, and stated that the federal government would look to make the system more "practical".
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Snapshots: PCEHR funding / goodbye TUSMA / Office of the Privacy Commissioner established

2014 budget snapshots
Rohan Pearce (Computerworld) on 14 May, 2014 16:34

$140m for eHealth

The federal government has set aside $140 million in the budget for the operation of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and to support other eHealth measures
The government "continues to work with stakeholders with regard to the recommendations from the recent PCEHR review to determine how best to proceed. The Government is committed to supporting improved productivity across the health sector and greater convenience for providers and patients," budget papers state.
"Implementation issues have plagued the PCEHR from day one, but the Abbott Government will get it back on track so that it provides real benefits to patients and health professionals alike," said a statement issued by the office federal health minister, Peter Dutton.
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Revealed: serious flaws in myGov site exposed millions of Australians' private information

Date May 15, 2014 - 3:38PM

Ben Grubb

A federal government department has been blasted over its "appalling response" to a security researcher's report which found it has been exposing millions of Australians' personal information by leaving serious security flaws unchecked in a critical government website.
The vulnerabilities were found in the myGov website, which stores the private records of Australians, including their doctor visits, prescription drugs, childcare and welfare payments. The Tax Office is expected to make the site mandatory for electronic tax returns this financial year. 
One of the several vulnerabilities foundwas so severe it allowed the researcher, Nik Cubrilovic, to hijack the account of any registered myGov user. 
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Federal Budget slices health expenditure, keeps PCEHR

The 2014 Federal Budget has introduced sweeping changes to Australia’s health system,  putting an end to free primary healthcare from July 2015  when bulk-billed GP consultations will attract a $7 co-payment charge, and fees will also apply to pathology and diagnostic imaging services performed outside the hospital system.
Professor Stephen Leeder, who is Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and a professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney, said that there is a “total lack of policy” behind the Budget cuts.
“Sometimes, something that looks like cutting red tape can actually be slicing an artery,” he said, noting that the funding cuts have hit preventative health care particularly hard.
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Making eHealth Work for Patients and Doctors

The Abbott Government will move to make the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system more practical for the Australian public, as well as for doctors, nurses, and other frontline health care providers.
Page last updated: 13 May 2014
13 May 2014
The 2014-15 Budget provides $140.6 million to support the operation of eHealth and the PCEHR system for 12 months, while the Government continues planning its response to recommendations in the recently completed PCEHR review.
Labor promised much with the PCEHR but delivered very little.
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Budget 2014: What is funded and what is cut?

Supercomputers in, regulators out.

There are no big ticket ICT projects in an austere 2014 Federal Budget, but plenty of cuts to keep the IT industry on tenterhooks. 
iTnews has combed the budget papers find out what Joe Hockey's first budget means for technology:
What is funded?:
  • Undisclosed funding for the Bureau of Meteorology to build its super-computer, with the weather agency currently testing the market for the work.
  • $140.6 million in 2014-15 for the continued operation of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system ,while the Government finalises its response to the review of the system. 
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Project STOP at risk of ending

12 May, 2014 Christie Moffat
A lack of government funding for the pseudoephedrine-monitoring program, Project STOP, could see the initiative come to an end.
As reported in The Age, ongoing debate about whether funding should come from the state or federal government has led to uncertainty about the future of the program beyond 2014.
Project STOP allows pharmacists to record the driver’s licence details of anybody who purchases pseudoephedrine into a database, which is monitored by investigators.
Since its national roll-out in 2007, the monitoring system has disrupted the abuse of pseudoephedrine by organised drug shoppers, tracking sales of high quantities of the drug.
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Absolutely bio-fabulous; ‘bioprinting’ to regrow damaged body parts

IT’S the stuff of science fiction — printing out body parts to regenerate worn-out hips, sprout new breasts after a mastectomy or recreate bones shattered in a car crash.
The futuristic technology has already been used overseas, and Australian scientists predict that hospitals here will be using 3D “bioprinting’’ to regrow damaged body parts within two to five years.
The process uses a 3D printer to manufacture a webbed “scaffold’’ made from a polymer material infused with a biological ink — which would cost $5000 per gram — that contains the patient’s own stem cells and growth agents.
The patient’s cells grow around the scaffold, and the original mould dissolves back into the body, much like stitches in wounds.
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Merge and rename Medicare Locals: govt report

12th May 2014
MEDICARE Locals should be renamed and carved up into a new national network with more hands-on involvement from GPs, according to a blueprint revealed on Monday.
The 61 organisations should be regrouped into a much smaller number of larger bodies with better efficiencies of scale, to be known as Primary Health Organisations (PHOs), according to the report posted without fanfare on the health department’s website.
While there are a few high performers, many of the Medicare Locals Labor set up in 2011 are not fulfilling their intended role, according to Professor John Horvath's report to Health Minister Peter Dutton.
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Human hands vs robotic surgery

13th May 2014
ORIGINALLY envisioned to enable surgeons to operate on battlefield casualties from a console far removed from the patient — potentially continents apart — robotic surgery is fast becoming the norm in the US for many gynaecological and urological procedures.
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Hospital adopts virtual desktops

A new hospital on the Sunshine Coast is using desktop virtualisation technology - but the biggest benefit probably isn't the one you'd expect.
Ramsay Health Care infrastructure engineer Barry White told iTWire that around 85% of the desktops at the recently opened Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital have been virtualised using Citrix XenDesktop.
The biggest advantage has accrued to clinical staff, as they are the employees who move around the hospital the most, and are the most likely to use shared computers. Rather than having to log out of Windows on one computer and then log in at another - which can be time-consuming - they can simply and quickly suspend their virtual desktop and resume it on the next computer they use.
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Health services go online: Diabetes support at centre of telehealth link to city specialists

By Kaitlyn Opie
May 12, 2014, 3:30 a.m.
LOWER Murray Medicare Local eHealth manager Troy Bailey is helping connect nine Sunraysia health organisations, including his own, to specialists in Melbourne.
Yesterday, Mr Bailey said that Sunraysia was fortunate to have partnered with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Royal­ Flying Doctor Service.
“Health services have had no access to these kinds of specialist services for years,” he said.
Mr Bailey is providing his tele-health expertise to patients and health professionals, while Monash University School of Rural Health has offered its consulting rooms.
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Canberra’s tech projects handed expiry notice

NBN, NICTA to be cut off from the public purse.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has taken a knife to some of the Australian Government’s most ambitious technology projects in his 2014-15 Federal Budget, with looming funding deadlines now in place for the National Broadband Network and National ICT Australia.
And despite the Government's assurances about its continuation, the budget has also left little to allay the concerns of those advocating for a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).
The Abbott Government has stuck to its commitment of a $29.5 billion funding cap for the National Broadband Network, which had originally promised the structural separation of Telstra and a ubiquity of internet access for all Australians.
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Tech giants pour resources into artificial intelligence

Date May 10, 2014

Brandon Bailey

The latest Silicon Valley arms race is a contest to build the best artificial brains. Facebook, Google and other leading tech companies are jockeying to hire top scientists in the field of artificial intelligence, while spending heavily on a quest to make computers think more like people.
They're not building humanoid robots – not yet, anyway. But a number of tech giants and start-ups are trying to build computer systems that understand what you want, perhaps before you knew you wanted it.
"It's important to position yourself in this market for the next decade," said Yann LeCun, a leading New York University researcher hired to run Facebook's new AI division in December. "A lot is riding on artificial intelligence and content analysis, and on being smarter about how people and computers interact."
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SNOMED CT-AU May 2014 Release

Created on Friday, 16 May 2014
The SNOMED CT-AU May 2014 release is now available for download.
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Budget 2014: splitting watchdogs 'would shut door on open government'

Labor's Joe Ludwig labels reported plans to break up Office of the Australian Information Commissioner extremely concerning
Splitting Australia’s freedom of information and privacy watchdogs as part of cost-saving measures in Tuesday’s budget would shut the door on open government, according to the Labor senator Joe Ludwig.
ABC AM has reported that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which oversees privacy and freedom of information investigations and reviews in Australia, will have its functions split across several other departments.
Ludwig said reports the commissioner could be handed to the Attorney General’s Department were extremely concerning. The OAIC operates at arms length from the government and is often called on to review government decisions.
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Sharing Healthcare Data Between Primary and Secondary Usage

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Grahame Grieve
One of the difficult problems associated with healthcare information is sharing data between primary users and secondary data. In fact, it’s come up in quite a few places recently, and seems to be causing more noise than light. The problem is that these two user bases have such radically different views of how the data should be understood.
Secondary Use
The secondary users of data fundamentally live in a statistics orientated world view. If fact, to be clear, that’s how I define what a secondary user is – someone who wishes to do analysis (usually statistical) on the data.
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3D printed first to treat sleep apnoea

A new 3D printed device is set to end the suffering for thousands of sleep apnoea patients.
  • 7 May 2014
Using a 3D scanner to map a patient’s mouth, CSIRO researchers and Australian dental company, Oventus, can now print a mouthpiece which prevents dangerous pauses in breath during sleep.
Printed from titanium and coated with a medical grade plastic, the breakthrough mouthpiece is customised for each patient.
The device has a ‘duckbill’ which extends from the mouth like a whistle and divides into two separate airways. It allows air to flow through to the back of the throat, avoiding obstructions from the nose, the back of the mouth and tongue.
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NBN chief Ziggy Switkowski says $41bn cost ‘money well spent’

NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski says spending $41 billion on the National Broadband Network would be “money well spent” despite a brutal federal budget looming next week.
“When the NBN is delivered for $41bn, I think all of us will believe that that’s money well spent,” Dr Switkowski said when asked how he could justify spending that amount on the NBN with a bleak budget ahead.
However, he was quick to point out that NBN Co was acutely aware that funding for projects that relied on the public purse was drying up.
“We’re very sensitive to the fact that we’re operating now in an era where capital is scarce,” Dr Switkowski said at a business lunch in Sydney.
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Navigation takes quantum leap

  • The Times
  • May 17, 2014 12:00AM
MANY drivers will have experienced the panic caused by losing GPS signal at a crucial moment of a journey. Now scientists have come up with an alternative technology — the quantum compass — which is immune to signal black spots and gives position information that is 1000 times more accurate than navigation systems.
Scientists at the British Ministry of Defence say the first application for the technology is likely to be in nuclear submarines, which operate beyond the range of ordinary GPS satellites in space. They will test a prototype on land next year.
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Enjoy!
David.

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