Friday, July 01, 2016

Good To See Labor Realises That Medicare Computing Needs An Upgrade!

This appeared a few days ago.

Labor admits health IT system requires refresh

The Australian Labor Party has admitted the country's health IT system needs an update and has not ruled out involving the private sector, despite accusing the prime minister of doing the same.
By Asha Barbaschow | June 20, 2016 -- 01:31 GMT (11:31 AEST) | Topic: Enterprise Software
The federal opposition has admitted that the computer systems behind Australian health need to be modernised, with Labor leader Bill Shorten saying this should occur "at some point", not dismissing the idea of private sector engagement.
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said she would not rule out involving the private sector in the inevitable IT improvements, which would need to happen within five years.
"But under no circumstances would you flog it off," she told ABC radio on Monday.
The acknowledgement of the health IT concerns comes in the wake of Shorten accusing the current government of planning to privatise Medicare.
Early on in Shorten's election campaign, the Labor leader declared the July 2 poll was a referendum on protecting the Medicare system.
However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull emphatically ruled out selling off any part of Medicare and accused Shorten of running a "dishonest scare campaign".
"This is the biggest lie of the campaign -- not the only one of Mr Shorten's lies I might say," Turnbull said Monday morning. "Medicare will never, ever be privatised, and never be sold."
Less than two weeks out from the election, Turnbull confirmed services which are currently being delivered by Medicare would continue to be covered, and that he would be engaging with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to make Medicare services more user friendly .
"Every element of Medicare services that is being delivered by government today will be delivered by government in the future. Full stop," he said. "I am making a solemn commitment."
But the shadow health spokeswoman is not convinced, declaring the government was currently at "very, very advanced" stages of privatising the IT systems, having already put out an expression of interest to companies.
"We've heard Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals say a whole lot of things about health before," King said. "It's pretty hard to believe anything they have to say."
King pointed to Telstra's contract to manage the national cancer registry, insisting the government would have to pay the telecommunications company extra to mine patient data.
"This is a disaster when it comes to health," she said.
Under the contract signed in May, Telstra Health will create a database of cancer records for those who have been screened for bowel and cervical cancer, with patients and doctors able to access the register online. The register will integrate eight existing cervical cancer registers and the current bowel cancer register, with more than 11 million separate records being amalgamated onto a single platform.
When asked if Labor would involve the private sector when modernising computer systems, King said "certainly we'll have to look at IT solutions".
Lots more here:
There was also some commentary on the same matter in The Conversation.

Don't hold your breath for a user-friendly Medicare IT system

22 June, 2016 David Glance 
The privatisation of Australia’s Medicare organisation has become a hot issue in this election with the Labor party accusing the Liberals of wanting to privatise Medicare.
The Liberal Government earlier this year earmarked A$5 million to fund consultants to review the digital payment services of Medicare. This was with a view to cutting costs on Medicare’s processing of A$50 billion in annual claims.
The “digital payments services taskforce”, which promised to examine how Medicare’s systems could be modernised, no longer seems to be running.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also stated there are no plans to proceed with a privatisation of Medicare’s payment systems.
It is misleading to talk about Medicare’s payment system as if it was a single system that could be easily outsourced to a private company.
Medicare’s IT systems are the product of an evolution of government policy that dictates who is to be paid for health service encounters and under what circumstances.
The payments service is further complicated by the fact it has to interface with thousands of different providers and millions of end users.
Medicare processes medical expense claims for potentially every encounter between an eligible Australian and a health professional or organisation. There are a series of rules that govern what can be claimed and whether the organisation, health professional or individual is responsible for making the claim.
Some of these payment claims are handled through software provided by any one of dozens of different vendors. These software companies have all gone through a process whereby their systems are certified to interface with those of Medicare’s.
Medicare also manages the issuing of cards, identifiers and runs a “public key infrastructure” which provides health professionals with cryptographic signatures that can be used in conjunction with the payments system.
Lots more here:
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Bottom line – for all their good intentions Labor just got way to carried away on all this and now the Coalition has caved. No doubt needed replacements will now be delayed and are less likely to do all that really could be done to improve services.
Sad that.

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