Monday, March 02, 2015

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 2nd March, 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.

General Comment

Awareness of the lack of anything happening with the PCEHR has re-emerged, with considerable justification I must say.
Other than that we see how the HFC Network is to be seriously upgraded for those who have cable internet, that all out metadata will be kept for 2 years and that all sorts of apps for health are coming at an increasing rate.
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Taxpayers have spent more than $1 billion on a digital health record that doctors won’t use

  • February 27, 2015 12:00AM
  • Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • Herald Sun
AUSTRALIANS could have had a hip replacement, a knee replacement or a brain tumour removed for the money it has cost to create the shared health summaries on their e-health records.
The botched Personally Controlled e-Health Record has been operating for nearly three years but less than one in ten Australians (2.1 million people) currently has one.
And doctors have uploaded just 41,998 shared health summaries onto these records, which means most of the more than 2 million e-health records are empty.
The scheme has so far cost taxpayers more than $1 billion to develop, or almost $24,000 per shared health summary.
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Push for ASIO to be given better access to patient records

23 February, 2015 Michael Woodhead 34 comments
Security services should be given enhanced access to patients' medical records and personal Medicare and PBS data, the inquiry into Sydney's Martin Place siege has recommended.
The inquiry report, released on Sunday, found there was no indication from the medical records of Lindt Chocolate Café attacker Man Haron Monis (pictured) that he posed a risk of violence,
However it went on to conclude that current health privacy legislation "has the potential to inhibit the flow of important information in future cases" and should be reviewed by states and territories "to ensure appropriate access by ASIO [the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation]".
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'Project Archer': Govt's plan to save the ABS

Date February 27, 2015 - 10:20AM

Noel Towell

Reporter for The Canberra Times

The Australian Bureau of Statistics had a torrid 2014 that began with departing Chief Statistician Brian Pink saying there was barely enough money to keep the lights on. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Abbott government's rescue plan for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including a takeover by the bureau of the nation's health statistics agency, is set to be in place by July.
There will also be $250 million for the ABS to upgrade its systems, a "surveying centre of excellence" established, probably in Geelong, and a green light for the bureau's plans to downgrade the national census.
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Emergency app that could save your life one day

GOD bless technology. It can be such a help when you’re in a ticklish, or even death-threatening, situation — even if sometimes you don’t even know it’s there.
Doubleclick learned this the hard way recently while hiking alone on the Great North Walk bush trail that wends its often spectacular way from Sydney to Newcastle. About 4.30pm on a warm Saturday afternoon I slipped on a greasy rock ledge near a creek crossing and crashed heavily into a small but deep and slimy rock pool.
In the process, I dislocated my left shoulder, bringing agonising pain, and came slowly to the discovery that I was trapped in the pool, thanks to a useless left hand, a hampered right hand that had only a slippery rock surface to grasp feebly at, and feet that couldn’t reach the pool bottom.
A backpack full of water that I couldn’t disengage didn’t help.
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Tick for CVD risk calculators

Sarah Colyer
Monday, 23 February, 2015
EXPERTS still support the use of absolute cardiovascular disease risk calculators in practice, despite evidence that they overestimate the likelihood of vascular events and concerns they may lead to overtreatment.
A 10-year prospective study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found the three widely used Framingham algorithms and the new American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (AHA-ACC-ASCVD) risk score overestimated the risk of vascular events by 37%‒154% in men and 8%‒67% in women. (1)
A fifth calculator — the Reynolds Risk Score, which included family history and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein — was found to be better calibrated, but it underestimated risk in women by 21%.
The study was based on a multiethnic US cohort of 4227 people (26% African American, 20% Hispanic, 12% Chinese) aged 50–74 years without CVD or diabetes at baseline.
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Electronic communication with patients

recent case in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal highlighted the risks when doctors use social media and electronic messaging to communicate with their patients.
In this case, the tribunal heard that the medical practitioner communicated with patients through various means including text messaging, email, Skype and Facebook.
While the tribunal also considered other issues related to professional conduct and professional boundaries, the case raised issues about appropriate communication between a practitioner and their patient on social media.
The tribunal heard concerns about the security and privacy of Facebook communications, particularly when the practitioner used Facebook to provide results of blood tests. The practitioner posted some messages on the patient’s ‘wall’, which were visible to the patient’s Facebook friends.
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Saving Health

It’s the conversation that doctors and patients want to have, but many politicians are avoiding – how do we create a patient-focused healthcare system?
By  SBS Insight
Airdate: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 20:30
Channel: SBS One
Carly Stewart's seven-year-old son Lachlan has cerebral palsy, requiring treatment from up to eight different hospital departments. She says the biggest hurdle for her family is poor communication between doctors across these departments.
Two-year-old James Robins has cystic fibrosis, and requires consistent medical care. His mother, Katherine, prefers to use Hospital in the Home (HITH) wherever possible, because it gives James a sense of normality in his daily routine, and reduces his chances of contracting further infections.
Dr Charlotte Hespe has been in general practice for over 20 years. She says a doctor's primary focus is the patient, but feels their efforts are supremely hampered by an unnecessary amount of red tape.
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Australian Privacy Commissioner investigating SIM card hack

GCHQ, NSA reportedly hacked into network of SIM card maker Gemalto in 2010
Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim is investigating reports about SIM card encryption keys – including those of SIM cards used in Australia – having been allegedly hacked by United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies during 2010 and 2011.
Members of the British Government Communications HeadQuarters (GCHQ) and the American National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly hacked into the computer network of Amsterdam-based SIM card maker Gemalto and took smartphone encryption keys used by customers of a number of mobile phone carriers worldwide.
In a statement, Gemalto said it was investigating the issue.
“Initial conclusions already indicate that Gemalto SIM products are secure and the company doesn't expect to endure a significant financial prejudice,” the company said.
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NICTA spin-off Saluda Medical snares $10m for back pain relief device

Chris Griffith

A PROMISING Australian spinal cord stimulator designed to reduce chronic back pain has received a new round of funding that paves the way for clinical trials.
Saluda Medical, a firm spun off from digital research body National ICT Australia (NICTA), says it has been granted $10m more of private venture capital for its device.
There is nothing new about spinal cord stimulators, they’ve been around since the 1970s. An electrode is inserted into the epidural space and delivers electrical stimulation that blocks out the pain.
Until now, wearers had to manually adjust the signal when they lay down, started to walk, turn right or left, or whenever they changed their posture. Tweaking of the stimulator quickly becomes monotonous.
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New Specialist Referral Directory for GPs in MedicalDirector Clinical

MedicalDirector has expanded its partnership with Australian digital health company, Healthshare and launched a new addition to its suite of free GP tools. Healthshare Referrals, a comprehensive specialist directory integrated into MedicalDirector Clinical, is expected to significantly streamline the referral pathway for GPs. 
The Referrals directory will be Healthshare’s second clinical offering following the Fact Sheets application that is currently available through the MedicalDirector Sidebar. The directory will have the functionality to search by specialty and location and can include the specialist’s full profile that has been validated and verified. The tool then allows a GP to write a referral letter with one click, utilising the pre-entered patient information.  Access to a high level of specialist detail along with the ability to seamlessly complete the referral writing process, all within the GPs’ clinical software, will help increase the efficiency of referrals and reduce the waiting time for patients.
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The AMT v20150228 February 2015 release is now available for download

Created on Friday, 27 February 2015
The AMT v20150228 February 2015 release is now available for download from the NEHTA website.

Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) Version 3 Support for Prescription and Dispense Record Documents February 2015 Release now available

Created on Friday, 27 February 2015
NEHTA has released updated specification versions for the following document types, eHealth Prescription Record; and eHealth Dispense Record. These updates introduce support for Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) version 3 codes for therapeutic goods.
In previous versions of these specifications, codes for the identification of therapeutic goods needed to be sourced from AMT version 2 and PBS code sets only. This limitation has been removed in this release, allowing document producers to also include codes from AMT version 3.
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Weight Watchers is losing race against fitness trackers

Date February 27, 2015

Antonia Massa

Consumers have started paying more attention to how active they are and how many calories they're burning, rather than focus on dieting programs and food products.
Weight Watchers is losing the race for customers against fitness gadgets.
Revenue fell 10 per cent to $US327.8 million ($421 million) in the December quarter, Weight Watchers International said in a statement Thursday, declining for the eighth straight period as FitBit, Jawbone and other activity trackers lure dieters away.
Shares in the company, a pioneer in the weight-loss industry, slumped as much as 16 per cent in extended trading after the results, on top of a 78 per cent decline in the past three years.
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FHIR ignites visions of a health app ecosystem

Summary: A major standards upgrade will boost access to health information. It could even support ambitious plans for an app store for the health sector.
By Rob O'Neill | February 24, 2015 -- 22:23 GMT (09:23 AEDT)
A new health information standard is promising to speed application development, interoperability and boost information sharing in the sector, especially on mobile platforms.
It could even support visions of an "app store" for the health sector.
FHIR, standing for Fast Health Interoperability Resources and pronounced "fire", builds on version three of the HL7 standard. However, it also uses ideas from organisations such as openEHR or IHE.
Crucially, though, FHIR adopts W3C's REST architecture, facilitating the development of scalable web services.
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New Zealand goes with cloud to improve health outcomes

New Zealand is set to revolutionise the way it delivers health services and applications by embracing cloud computing services.
Health Benefits Limited, a crown company in New Zealand, is co-ordinating the roll out of cloud services, which will see each of the twenty district health boards wind down many of their custom services in favour of consolidation within two IBM data centres.
“We started this journey four years ago,” said HBL enterprise architect Peter Marks. “We visited each of the District Health Boards and did a lot of work investigating what the result would be from joining up different systems.”
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Accident victims are the first to get mind-controlled bionic hands

  • Kat Lay
  • The Times
  • February 26, 2015 12:00AM
THREE Austrian men are the first to undergo “bionic reconstruction”, replacing hands that had been left useless in accidents with robotic prosthetic hands controlled by their mind.
The bionic hands mean the men are able to accomplish everyday tasks such as undoing buttons, picking up a ball or using a key for the first time since their accidents up to 17 years ago, said a study published yesterday in The Lancet medical journal.
The men had all damaged the network of nerves that send signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand in motoring or climbing accidents.
Doctors had previously ­attempted some reconstruction of the affected area, known as the brachial plexus, but they still had poor hand function.
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Healthy start for NEC in Box Hill Hospital deployment

NEC has successfully implemented the core ICT infrastructure for Victoria’s newly opened $447.5 million redevelopment of Eastern Health’s Box Hill Hospital.
Through a partnership with the Victorian Government, NEC is playing a major role in the Box Hill Hospital project with partner company Cisco and ASCOM, SPOK and Wavelink to deliver a full integrated health care solution, including the design, procurement and implementation of the new building’s ICT network, telephone system and data centre.

NEC leads the two stage deployment at the hospital which will be completed over the next one and a half years.
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Metadata retention: 'Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear', says Australia Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris

Date February 22, 2015 - 4:50PM

Lia Timson

Technology Editor

The Australia Federal Police will not request citizen metadata that could prevent terrorist attacks unless a criminal investigation is already under way, AFP Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris says.
Speaking at the Tech Leaders conference in the NSW Blue Mountains on Sunday, Mr Morris delivered a carefully worded case in favour of the federal government's proposed Data Retention Bill to gathered Australian technology journalists.
The bill would force Australian telecommunications companies to store customers' phone call, email and internet metadata for two years. It has been fiercely opposed by academics, privacy advocates, telcos and the Greens.
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Bionic eye gives hope to millions going blind from macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a form of sight loss caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the macula – the central part of the retina. It afflicts 30 million to 50 million people, most of them elderly. The result is a shadowlike void in the centre of a sufferer's visual field. Many solutions have been proposed, from injecting a patient's eyes with stem cells that will grow into new photoreceptors, to building small telescopes into spectacles or contact lenses.
Another is to implant a light-sensitive chip in the affected part of the retina – a promising idea in principle, but one that has not worked well in practice. Daniel Palanker of Stanford University thinks he can do better. He has developed a chip-based system which will not fully restore vision, but may bring a person back to a point of no longer being legally blind.
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Thodey’s legacy: How Telstra transformed for a brilliantly connected future

23 February, 2015
As David Thodey prepares to hand over the reins, customers are now firmly and proudly on Telstra’s centre stage. Lisa Schofield looks back at this iconic Australian brand’s quest to redefine its purpose as a launch pad for the future of a connected Australia.
There are some brands that feel as true blue Aussie as the Sydney Opera House, Vegemite and stubby holders. They’re the kind of organisations people stick with through bad times, trust in periods of change, and when there’s success, celebrate, knowing they played a role.
Telstra fits this bill easily, having played a central role in everyday Australian life since 1975 when the Postmaster General’s Office split its postal and telecommunications functions into separate brands, creating Telecom Australia and Australia Post, complete with sister logos by designer Pieter Huveneers.
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Less than 25pc take-up for fastest NBN plans

Annabel Hepworth

FEWER than one in four consumers who have signed up to get the internet over the National Broadband Network are on the fastest, most expensive packages, but users are guzzling growing amounts of online data.
The Australian can reveal that the NBN Co’s latest figures put the average monthly data consumption on the $41 billion project at 83 gigabytes for the quarter to June last year,
up from 77GB in the quarter to December 2013.
Executives at the government monopoly rolling out the super-fast internet will include the figures in presentations on their half-year financial results today.
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ARRIS pledges major upgrade of HFC networks for NBN

HFC can be as good or better than fibre, says cable broadband equipment provider
Most National Broadband customers with hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) connections won’t be able to tell the difference from fibre after the network is upgraded to the latest cable broadband tech, according to ARRIS, the company assigned to provide HFC equipment for NBN Co.
NBN Co announced today that it had signed a contract with ARRIS Group to upgrade HFC networks around Australia with new cable broadband technologies that provide faster speeds and more reliable connections.
ARRIS plans to upgrade Australia’s HFC networks to the latest cable broadband standard, DOCSIS 3.0, and the equipment will be upgradable to the upcoming DOCSIS 3.1 standard in the future, officials said.
The parties did not disclose financial terms of the deal including the length of the contract. While expected to be a multi-year initiative, “the objective is to have a lot of progress this year on DOCSIS 3.0 technology,” said Bruce McClelland, ARRIS president of network and cloud, global services.
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NBN Co selects ARRIS for HFC network build

In a deal reported to be worth $400 million, National Broadband Network company (NBN Co) has selected US-based global technology provider ARRIS to design and build its next-generation Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) broadband network.
NBN Co Chief Technology Officer Dennis Steiger said NBN Co was committed to ensuring that everyone in Australia will have access to high-speed broadband services, and an HFC network represents “the fastest and most cost-effective way to deliver it to consumers and businesses in the existing HFC network areas”.
“Our goal is to achieve high-speed broadband as quickly possible, with an eye on future technologies that will secure our place as a global technology leader. Significant investments are being made in HFC broadband technology on a global scale, and we are committed to ensuring that Australia is at the forefront of this movement.”
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NBN Co firms up HFC upgrade, appoints US contractor Arris

Date February 23, 2015 - 10:21PM

Stuart Corner

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a step closer to seeing his plan for existing Telstra and Optus pay TV cables integrated into the NBN.
NBN Co has selected US-based Arris to upgrade and integrate the telcos' hybrid fibre coax (HFC) networks into the national broadband network, a major component of the Abbott government's multi-technology model that will also see broadband delivered over copper wires where fibre optics are not feasible.
Cisco had been tipped as the leading contender for the business. Cisco vice-president for Australia and New Zealand, Ken Boal was reported last March saying: "We're working very hard to respond to [NBN Co] ."
Arris will supply equipment and network design. Its division Arris Global Services will handle deployment and integration.
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VIDEO: NBN Co results to December 2014 - all numbers up including revenue and losses

NBN Co’s results show a doubling of premises connected, higher ARPU, 3x revenue, higher capex costs, but larger EBIT and EBITDA losses.
While the vast majority of Australia’s population is still unable to get an NBN connection, NBN Co is nevertheless making progress in getting more homes passed and more homes connected.
Naturally, the company says its results are a sign of ‘significant progress’ over the six months to December 2014 and represent ‘substantial increases in the number of serviceable premises, active end-users and telecommunications revenue’.
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Ascent of the robots has begun, and it’s not good for humankind

  • Andrew Keen
  • The Times
  • February 27, 2015 12:00AM
RECESSION is when your neighbour loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours, Ronald Reagan quipped. Catastrophe, Reagan might have added, is when you, your neighbour and half the other people in your street lose their jobs too.
We are, I’m afraid, on the brink of such a catastrophe. A 2013 study of 700 professions by two Oxford researchers, Carl Frey and Mich­ael Osborne of the Martin School, warned that 47 per cent of all jobs in the US and Britain are at risk because of computerisation.
The race against the machine has begun. And we are being outrun, outgunned and outflanked by today’s increasingly widespread network of digital devices and ­algorithms.
“It is an invisible force that goes by many names,” wrote Derek Thompson, of the magazine The Atlantic. “Computerisation. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Technology. Innovation. And, everyone’s favourite, robots.”
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Enjoy!
David.

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