This blog is totally independent and has only three major objectives.
The first is to inform readers of news and happenings in the e-Health domain, both here in Australia and world-wide.
The second is to provide commentary on e-Health in Australia and to foster improvement where I can.
The third is to encourage discussion of the matters raised in the blog so hopefully readers can get a balanced view of what is really happening and what successes are being achieved.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 16th February, 2015.
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.
Again a quiet week with the biggest news being the continued push of Telstra into the e-Health space with lots of mentions of e-Health and their plans from the Telstra CEO when announcing the results for the half year. It now looks like more than $100 million has been spent on the various e-Health systems which Telstra now owns. I wonder how they will get a return on this investment?
Other than that it is good to see Google working to improve the quality of the health information it finds.
Search the web about "headaches" and you will be hit by lists of causes - ranging from eye strain to brain tumours - and treatments, including options long dismissed as snake oil.
But, from this week, digital giant Google will respond to medical queries with pre-vetted fact boxes and illustrations in a bid to steer users away from websites with shonky, possibly dangerous, advice.
If you have symptoms of gonorrhea, for example, you can save yourself from some embarrassment and first talk to your smartphone via Google's Now.
"We'll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is - whether it's critical, if it's contagious, what ages it affects, and more," Prem Ramaswami, Google's product manager, said in a blog post.
I have a confession to make: I see Dr Google far, far more than I see my GP.
And for that, my GP should be grateful. She doesn't get the litany of questions that plague someone who doesn't want to admit she's probably a borderline hypochondriac.
It all goes into the great internet oracle, from persistent headaches to sore muscles after exercising (it's called being out of shape, if you're wondering) to a strange bump on my leg that won't go away. And it's just not me I worry about - I Google my husband's symptoms, I research operations my father has had to have and have even been known to check up on my cat's condition.
A lot of these symptoms just seem way too silly to say out loud to another human, especially a doctor who deals with legitimate medical emergencies on a daily basis.
The medical community needs ethical guidelines for doctors who Google their patients for information because such a move can erode confidence and trust.
That's the recommendation of a recently published research paper by professors at the Penn State College of Medicine. The study highlights how physicians have been left to navigate search engine waters on their own -- and it points out the moral ambiguities involved in the practice.
"In some ways, it could be viewed by patients as somewhat weird that a medical provider might be trolling their online profile to get more information about them," said Maria Baker, a Penn State associate professor of medicine and co-author of the research paper. "Googling a patient can undermine the trust between a patient and his or her provider, but in some cases it might be ethically justified."
The research comes at a time when young physicians and doctors in training are more often using Internet search engines in connection with their work. In addition to that, wearable devices such as Google Glass are being used more often in the healthcare industry.
If you’re reading this post while you’re eating lunch – don’t! Or breakfast or dinner. Please, pay attention to your food and then go for a walk, if you can. But do come back and consider some important and, yes, challenging thoughts and research about the way we spend time online.
Dr Lareen Newman and Kristina Dryza write:
Many Westerners have jumped on the Digital Bandwagon in buying into the assumption that using digital devices and riding the Internet super-highway is predominantly a good thing. It gets us connected, gives us access to new opportunities, something interesting to do with our ‘free’ time, makes banking more convenient, and enables us to take more control of our own healthcare. For others there’s no real choice in the matter – their employer demands they be online so they can fulfil their job description.
The Australian Government is also encouraging the general population to get online for the benefit of our health – to set up our own Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR), open a MyGov account to deal with Medicare, download the QuitBuddy App to quit smoking, or to visit the E-Mental Health Portal.
There is big foreign interest in taking over Medicare payments.
Foreign multinationals are jostling to take over the payment of tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and other Australian government benefits.
Companies from the US, Germany, Japan and Britain have approached the Commonwealth, interested in taking over the Medicare, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Veterans Affairs payments in an outsourcing deal.
Only three home-grown players, Eftpos, Australia Post and Telstra offshoot Stellar, are in the hunt to secure the massive contract if the Abbott government decided to go ahead with the privatisation.
But British services giant Serco, Japanese-US outfit Fuji-Xerox, German software behemoth SAP as well as American outsourcing powerhouse Accenture are all circling too, according to well-placed sources in the local "business process outsourcing" industry.
More than 60% of the doctors had been rated on at least one of the eight websites included in the study, with an average of six patient ratings per doctor, reported the health policy researchers at the University of Minnesota.
But there was only a small and insignificant association between their online ratings and clinical quality measures, which were based on 25 practice improvement items derived from medical records and patient surveys, the authors reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.
A NEW GP service, which does away with a bricks and mortar practice and uses video chat to see patients instead, is set to launch in New Zealand this month.
Doctor2Go promises patients 24/7 secure video-chat access to their GP for a monthly enrolment fee of NZ$99 ($94) per person. A 15-minute consultation costs an additional NZ$59 ($56), jumping to NZ$99 after hours.
Discounts are offered for families and businesses.
Michael Haskell, chief executive of Third Age Health, the parent company of Doctor2Go, says the prices will drop once it has signed on to a primary health organisation, a move expected to be finalised when the business is officially launched.
New Zealand Doctor talked to Mr Haskell using Doctor2Go’s telemedicine technology and the browser-based video connection was sometimes patchy, with the audio lagging after several minutes.
David Thodey is continuing to lead Telstra along a delicate path between the group’s ambition of creating a post-national broadband network growth path and his shareholders’ voracious appetite for cash returns.
Today’s interim result says that he remains on track, with Telstra’s future starting to emerge while it continues to manage down the legacy business that will ultimately be displaced by the NBN.
A hallmark of Thodey’s tenure has been that he hasn’t overpromised but has delivered on the promises that he has made and the result was no different.
A 1 per cent increase in revenue translated to a 0.5 per cent increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, which in turn was leveraged into a 7 per cent increase in earnings from continuing operations. (There was a loss of income and earnings as a result of the sale of Telstra CSL mobiles business in Hong Kong.)
Millions of Australians' Centrelink and Medicare files are being handed over to a United States multinational corporation as the federal government closes filing warehouses around the country.
A record management unit in Darwin has been closed by the Department of Human Services while a warehouse in Adelaide will shut next year. Storage units in Townsville and Tasmania are open but "under review".
The warehouses hold decades worth of Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support Agency files.
Human Services says the role of US-based Iron Mountain in managing the records will grow as each storage unit closes.
The news comes as the department seeks private players to take over Medicare payments, and Telstra employees prepare to answer phones in some government call centres from next month.
Date: Thursday, 12th February 2015 - Thursday, 12th February 2015
Time: 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Online Webinar 8:00pm AEST
Presenter: Black Dog Institute
Primary care of mental health problems can usefully incorporate e-Mental Health (eMH) programs which, evidence shows, improve patient outcomes.
The Black Dog Institute is presenting a series of webinars for GPs, designed to explore the use of evidence based online resources in general practice. Each stand-alone webinar aims to familiarise GPs with these locally-developed resources and build their confidence in recommending and monitoring the use of the resources appropriately.
FORTY-five years after the introduction of the internet and eight years after Apple revolutionised smartphone use with the release of its first iPhone, the once futuristic vision of a fully wired world is about to be realised.
Three billion people, about 40 per cent of the world’s population, are connected to the internet. Mobile penetration is even greater, with seven billion subscriptions globally, half of them in Asia and the Pacific.
Real-time, people-to-people connectivity across time, space and even linguistic barriers is only half of this remarkable story.
Connecting machines with machines — the “internet of things” — is about to pass a remarkable threshold. US networking giant Cisco Systems estimates that by the end of this year about 15 billion devices will be connected to each other via the internet (excluding computers and mobiles). This figure is expected to grow to 40 billion by 2020.
A researcher has released 10 million usernames and passwords collected from data breaches over the last decade, a step he worries could be a legally murky but one that will help security research.
The data comes from major data breaches at companies including Adobe Systems and Stratfor, all of which have already been publicly released and can be found through Web searches, said Mark Burnett, a Utah-based security consultant who has written several networking and security books.
Most of the passwords are likely invalid, and he has scrubbed other information such as domain names to make it unusable for hackers, Burnett said. Still, usernames or passwords found on the list that are still used should be changed.
It's the theme of so many dystopian sci-fi books and movies: a super intelligent machine in charge of lethal military hardware becomes self-aware and decides to wreak havoc. But could it actually happen?
At the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's annual conference in Texas last month, a workshop was held on the ethics of AI development and a panel discussed whether or not so-called 'lethal autonomous weapons' should be banned.
"There are many arguments, legal, ethical, political and technical for a ban," Toby Walsh, head of the Optimisation Research Group at Australia's research body NICTA and chair of the proceedings, told Fairfax Media.
"One that particularly appeals to me is that [autonomous weapons] will lower the barrier to war. If one side can launch an attack, without fear of bodies coming home, then it is much easier to slip into battle," Professor Walsh said.