Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Commentators and Journalists Weigh In On Digital Health And Related Privacy, Safety And Security Matters. Lots Of Interesting Perspectives - April 7, 2020.

This weekly blog is to explore the larger issues around Digital Health, data security, data privacy, AI / ML. technology, social media and related matters.
I will also try to highlight ADHA Propaganda when I come upon it.
Just so we keep count, the latest Notes from the ADHA Board are dated 6 December, 2018! Secrecy unconstrained! This is really the behaviour of a federal public agency gone rogue – and it just goes on! When you read this it will be over 16 months of radio silence, and worse, while the CEO, COO and the Chief of Staff have gone, still no change.  I wonder will things improve at some point, given the acting CEO seems not to care, as well.  I think it is fair to assume no change will come in the foreseeable future.
Note: Appearance here is not to suggest I see any credibility or value in what follows. I will leave it to the reader to decide what is worthwhile and what is not! The point is to let people know what is being said / published that I have come upon.

Zoom, video conferencing apps under privacy commissioner's microscope

By Michael Koziol
April 5, 2020 — 12.00am
Privacy authorities are poised to crack down on video and teleconferencing apps including Zoom that have soared in popularity during social distancing amid a global storm about privacy breaches.
Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk warned of "new risks to privacy", saying providers needed to be transparent about how they handle personal information, make their controls user-friendly and build in privacy and security "by default".
There has been global concern about security over Zoom, which is now recording up to 200 million daily users, up from 10 million in December, as the world works from home due to the coronavirus.
International media has been publishing sustained coverage of Zoom's alleged privacy deficiencies. In the US, the FBI said it had received multiple reports of meetings being gatecrashed (or "Zoom bombed") by uninvited visitors with pornographic images or threatening language.

Mobile phone location data used to track Australians' movements during coronavirus crisis

By Ben Grubb
April 5, 2020 — 12.00am
Vodafone has provided the mobile phone location data of several million Australians in an anonymised and aggregated form to the federal and NSW governments to monitor whether people are following social distancing restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, governments, medical experts and the media have used location data from transport apps such as CityMapper, which shows how people move throughout cities like Sydney and Melbourne using public transport, in an attempt to determine whether people's movement has reduced.
But such data is limited in its use as it relies on active usage of one app alone - an app that isn't necessarily used by a large percentage of Australians. Google has also published an Australian report based on Google Maps and how its users' movements have changed. Mobile phone location data of millions of users from one of Australia's telco providers, however, can provide a clearer picture.
In a statement to the Sun-Herald and Sunday Age, Vodafone Australia's director of corporate affairs, Dan Lloyd, said the telco had "provided, on request, aggregated network information to the NSW Department of Customer Service and the federal Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet".
3 April 2020

Going viral, digital health in crisis

Going Viral: Episode 18  ADHA Propaganda
Digital health in a crisis; telehealth consultations, electronic prescribing, the role of My Health Record
In this episode:
– How digital health services can help during the COVID-19 crisis
– More effective telehealth consultations
– Electronic prescribing
– MHR – shared health summary, medicines view, pathology results and e-requesting
– Where are we heading with digital health services?
Host: Dr Harry Nespolon, GP and RACGP President
Guest: Prof Meredith Makeham, Clinical Professor and Chief Medical Adviser, Australian Digital Health Agency
Total time: 27 mins

Australian Privacy Foundation labels CLOUD Act-readying Bill as 'deeply flawed'

The foundation also called the Telecommunications International Production Orders Bill a 'manifestation of a drip by drip erosion of privacy protection in the absence of a justiciable constitutionally-enshrined right to privacy in accord with international human rights frameworks'.
By Asha Barbaschow | April 3, 2020 -- 01:37 GMT (12:37 AEDT) | Topic: Security
The Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) has labelled Australia's pending Telecommunications International Production Orders Bill as "deeply flawed", saying it sees no real need for the Bill to be put in place.
"The Bill is deeply flawed. It conflates bureaucratic convenience with what is imperative," the foundation said.
"It obfuscates accountability through inadequate transparency, including reliance on the under-resourced Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Human rights groups warn governments of privacy laws when tracking COVID-19

110 organisations have set out eight conditions proposed for governments worldwide to adhere to if they are using surveillance technology to combat the pandemic.
By Aimee Chanthadavong | April 3, 2020 -- 06:02 GMT (17:02 AEDT) | Topic: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic
Some 110 human rights and civil society organisations from around the world have jointly called for all governments to adhere to human rights laws when using digital surveillance technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Signatories of the joint statement include Amnesty International, Algorithm Watch, Australian Privacy Foundation, Digital Rights Watch, European Digital Rights, Foundation for Information Policy Research, Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights, and World Wide Web Foundation.
"An increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities -- undermining the effectiveness of any public health response. Such measures also pose a risk of discrimination and may disproportionately harm already marginalized communities," the joint statement said.

Coronavirus: Google tracking shows how Australians’ behaviour has changed

Google is tracking Australian mobile users’ movements to profile where we are going and what we are doing during the pandemic.
It says it is compiling users’ data into anonymised reports and publishing them online to help officials manage the pandemic.
A report for Australia, covering the period to March 29, says that based on user data recorded from smartphones, use of retail and recreation facilities is down 45 per cent in Australia from “the baseline”, which is the median value for the five weeks from January 3 to February 6.
Retail and recreational use includes users going to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theatres.

Out and about? Google releases global virus lockdown data

By Paresh Dave
April 3, 2020 — 6.10pm
Oakland: Google has published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Google's analysis of location data from billions of users' phones is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world.
Its reports show charts that compare visits in recent weeks to subway, train and bus stations, grocery stores and other broad categories of places with a five-week period earlier this year. For some countries, Google charts regional data, such as at the county-level within the United States.
Facebook, which like Google has billions of users, has shared location data with non-governmental researchers that are producing similar reports for authorities in several countries.

Coronavirus update: What you can use telehealth for and how to get prescriptions online

Kaitlin Peek and Jenny Ky
The Morning Show
Friday, 3 April 2020 11:21 am
Globally, there has now been upwards of one million confirmed cases of coronavirus, and over 52,000 fatalities.
With 25 deaths on our shores, further social distancing restrictions are now firmly in place - but while the measures are helping with the spread of COVID-19, more and more Australians are unable to attend their usual health care appointments.
Thanks to the government’s new telehealth system and just under $700 million in funding, vital appointments are now going virtual, taking the pressure off the growing demands for our hospitals and keeping our doctors and nurses safe.
“We’re looking now to make people go online and go to video conferencing to connect with your doctor, or you can even do it via the phone,” said Dr Andrew Rochford.

How to fix your internet

You’re locked down at home and the internet speed is appalling. Here’s what to do.
It’s a nightmare. Everyone’s locked down at home fighting coronavirus and using the internet.
You’re doing important company work needed urgently, your 16-year-old is studying online, and your 11-year-old is immersed in 4K online gaming. Another child is binge-watching Netflix, and someone’s on a telehealth consultation. The speed is terrible. It may be terrible when you’re home alone working online.
Internet traffic is up enormously. NBN’s latest report says traffic in business hours is up by more than 70 per cent, and evening usage is even higher.
Sure, your problem could be increased traffic online due to coronavirus, but there’s plenty of potential choking points. Get ready for some troubleshooting.
What to do
The first thing is getting to grips with where the problem lies.
Speedtest by Okla is a useful tool. You can run it in a browser on a laptop, and download Speedtest apps for Apple and Android phones.

The use of electronic signatures in a remote working Australia

With many Australian and international businesses shifting to remote working arrangements in light of the government’s COVID-19 response, companies and individuals are likely to need to sign documents without easy access to hard copies or a printer.
The good news is that, generally, under Australian law, an electronic signature is likely to be treated the same as a written signature, provided that certain requirements are met. The bad news is that these requirements are not always clear and that some documents are exempt from the legislation governing electronic signatures.
This article sets out the general position under Australian law on the use of electronic signatures (including suggestions on how the requirements may be met to provide a greater level of certainty regarding the validity of electronic signatures) and also covers some important exceptions to the general rule.
2 April 2020

Surviving telehealth’s impending tectonic structural shift

Finance General Practice Telehealth
Posted by Tom Skotnicki
General practices are frantic dealing with the massive changes of the past month.  But as a consumer, I urge them to not lose their focus on patients.
Most of us are disoriented by the rapid changes at a time when so many are living in isolation and often dread.  Unless patient relationships are adroitly managed, the changes could prove to be an existential threat. And I suspect those in greatest danger will be those that fail to focus on the patient experience.
As a communications consultant I worked with NEHTA on digital health issues more than a decade ago. I was present at a meeting with the then minister for communications, Stephen Conroy, that led to the introduction of the first telehealth item numbers in Australia. In the interim, I have often bemoaned the botched implementation and lack of progress on telehealth in various forums. So how crazy is it that in the space of two weeks we have moved to full implementation as a matter of necessity.  And make no mistake, if this goes on for more than even a few months it could totally restructure the GP landscape.

Redesigning health systems for better aged care

An interview with Professor John Beard of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Population Aging Research, University of New South Wales, Australia.
March 31, 2020 09:53 PM
At the “Health Care Systems & Public Health: A Workshop for the Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity Initiative” event held at Singapore’s National University Health System in early February 2020, there was a broad consensus amongst speakers and attendees that current health systems are badly designed for older populations to retain health for as long as possible. 
“This is because the current health systems were designed from the start of the 19th century, with a very focus on infectious disease and acute conditions so it was about identifying those conditions and curing them,” explained John Beard, Co-Chair of the Workshop and Professor at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Population Aging Research, University of New South Wales, Australia.
With rapidly aging populations around the world, health systems need to be more focused on how they can provide ongoing care and handle complex situations.
“The goal of the (health) system should be to maximize the functioning and help an older person retain that for as long as possible. There is a need to focus on integrated care and overall functioning as an outcome. Care also needs to be much more personalized and person-centered – it’s no longer one size fits all anymore,” he added.

Sharing notes with patients is a good idea, say doctors

But the US survey of outpatients staff shows it may mean having to spend more time on documentation
1st April 2020
Three in four clinicians who share their medical notes with patients think it works well, however some doctors say it means spending more time writing them, an online survey reveals.
The findings come from a survey of 1626 physicians, advanced practice nurses, registered nurses, physician assistants, and therapists working in outpatient settings at three health systems in the US.
The majority of respondents were physicians (58%), female (65%), licensed to practice in 2000 or later (61%), and spent fewer than 40 hours per week in direct patient care (71%).
Most viewed open notes positively, with 74% agreeing that sharing notes with patients was a good idea.

Dr Andrew Rochford discusses Tele Health and Digital Health Consultation

Dave Cochrane March 31, 2020 2:04 pm
Australian Digital Health Agency Spokesman, Dr Andrew Rochford joins Brent Bultitude to discuss – Digital Health, Consultation by Phone between Doctors and Patients and E-Scripts for Pharmacies from Doctors.
“Click” Below to Listen to The Podcast:
1 April 2020

Good night and good morning: a COVID-19 day in the life of a GP

Posted by Dr Nathan Pinskier
Dr Nathan Pinskier is a Melbourne GP and prominent figure in the country’s digital health scene, including being a significant campaigner for appropriately regulated telehealth.
During COVID-19 he’s been wearing many hats in trying to help co-ordinate the response of primary care. But at the end of the day, he’s a GP. As I do on many occasions, I asked Nathan a few questions to help me with context for stories. He always get’s back. Yesterday, the second day of universal telehealth, was obviously a big one.  Here’s his response.
Hi Jeremy,
“Yes it’s all been very challenging.
I have been in virtual meetings with different groups people hour after hour every day by Webex, Zoom, Amazon chime and many ordinary phone calls, etc etc. Confusion everywhere.

Reduce risks and Skype your doctor

Medicare supported telehealth video and audio consultations with doctors are with us.
Church Street Medical Practice in Sydney’s inner west is typical of surgeries adapting to life with coronavirus. Preventing virus infections in the waiting and consultation areas and dealing with suspected coronavirus cases is a big undertaking.
Practice manager Lachlan Stockbridge says door handles are disinfected every 15 to 20 minutes as is the payments terminal where patients punch in their card details. Patients in the waiting room are restricted to using every second chair.
“We have moved the entire practice to a cashless system, We’ve taken out all the magazines and the toys.”

CORONAVIRUS: Should Australia use phone apps to trace the contacts of coronavirus sufferers?

Oxford University has modelled a smartphone app that offers instant contact tracing should a person test positive to coronavirus. It uses low energy Bluetooth and avoids collecting geolocation data.
Contract tracing is one of the most powerful ways of trying to quell a virus outbreak; you can reduce its spread if you can find those who were in close contact with confirmed cases. In Australia, this is currently done manually. However smartphones apps could record encoded IDs of contacts between people, and then warn users to go into self isolation if a contact later tested positive to the virus.
The question is whether Australia and other western democracies would be up for using such an app which in ordinary times we’d decry as the personification of Big Brother and a massive intrusion into our civil liberties. But these are not ordinary times.
An article in the publication Science argues that manual contact tracing of those with coronavirus consumes lots of time and resources. The more time wasted, the longer people are out and about infecting others.

Zoom, Slack have seized the day and work life may never be the same again

By Tae Kim
The coronavirus is changing the way we work. As more governments implement stricter shelter-in-place orders, corporations and their employees are scrambling to figure out how to conduct business operations in a work-at-home world. First, new hardware is required. Sales of monitors, webcams and laptops are soaring as people build out their home offices. But that's the easy part.
The bigger issue is how to enable similar levels of productivity without the many brief conversations and in-person meetings during a typical day at the office. To accomplish this, companies are increasingly turning to a handful upstarts in the aptly named workforce collaboration software category. These are the tools, initially designed for use in an office, which the world has now discovered work so well when trying to stay connected remotely, from video conferencing to electronic messaging platforms. And as they gain traction in the home workspace, it seems more and more likely they'll stick once we're all back in the office again, accelerating a trend toward greater usage that was happening anyway.
Three tools that particularly stand out come from Zoom Video Communications, Slack Technologies and Smartsheet. What these companies have in common is they are upstarts, their products are arguably best-in-class for what they do and they've all seen their shares jump amid the widening coronavirus crisis.

7 Zoom tips for working from home

Don't forget the always-useful, eternally tidy room trick….

Despite disturbing errors of judgement related to privacy and security, Zoom appears to have become the most popular solution for online collaboration, in use across enterprise, government and individuals.
I’ve kicked the app around to surface a few less-visible features you might find useful – most of which should be helpful for every platform, not just Apple’s.

People don’t need to see you in your room

I’ve been on Twitter long enough to have seen plenty of people’s offices, rooms and other personal spaces in the background of the Zoom chat screenshots people seem so fond of sharing at the moment. It's funny how people seem to like sitting in front of their books.
It doesn’t need to be this way – you can use a virtual background if you choose.
Open Zoom Settings>Virtual Background and you’ll be able to select one of the default background options there so people don’t see you in your room – or you can use one of your own images…. 

My Health Record Workshop (Good Things Foundation program supported by the Australian Digital Health Agency)

Wed May 20, 2020  ADHA Propaganda
This 90 minute Workshop will introduce participants to the ‘My Health Record’. My Health Record is an online platform allowing healthcare professionals to share information with each other as well as the patient, to help give a clearer and more complete picture of a person’s health to aid in their treatment.
This session will give learners an overview of the platform, along with the opportunity to access and use My Health Record.
Learning objectives: To increase learners’ knowledge and confidence in using My Health Record and be able to make an informed decision about whether it’s something they would like to access for themselves.
Date: Monday, 20th May 2020
Time: 1.30pm – 3.00pm
Location: Rosanna Fire Station Community House

Is Australia ahead of the AI curve?

Australia has a long history of punching above its weight. Invention and innovation from our sunburnt shores have frequently reshaped the world and propel the human race forward.
From the black box flight recorder which helped make air travel the world’s safest form of transport, to electronic pacemakers which today keep more than three million hearts beating, to Wi-Fi which single-handedly transformed how we live and work, Aussie inventiveness is – in the truest sense of the term – a game changer.
For a relatively small nation of around 24 million people, our ingenuity has had a profound impact on the world at large. And when it comes to the new technologies of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, it seems we’re not content with resting on our laurels.
Despite the much-publicised anxieties around the impact these technologies will have on Australia’s workforce, local organisations are relishing the possibilities they offer, using them to redefine the business and improve services for customers, staff, and the wider community.

Big Brother may keep watching when coronavirus pandemic passes

By Eli Lake
March 31, 2020 — 11.05am
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, some democracies around the world have used technology to avoid having to impose draconian mass quarantines that were common earlier this year in China. That's reassuring - and it's also worrying, because the very strategies that can help fight a plague can also be abused once it's over.
Consider Taiwan, where an "electronic fence" allows local police to make regular phone calls to everyone who is home under quarantine; if the citizen doesn't answer or the phone is out of power, police come to the home within 15 minutes. In South Korea, the government constantly updates a website that tracks the movements of people who have been infected, and issues alerts to the mobile phones of people in the geographic vicinity of an infected citizen. The Israeli government gained access to an archive of phone data to map the movements of infected people, then alerted those who had been in contact with them to self-isolate.
Again, invoking these powers is reasonable during a pandemic. Once the outbreak is over, however, this kind of power can and probably will be abused. What's to stop a corrupt (or merely unscrupulous) leader from using such technologies to learn or even publicise the location of political opponents or dissidents?

How COVID-19 coronavirus attacks your body

It starts, most often, with a cough or a sneeze. Thousands of tiny, often invisible droplets of saliva or mucus disperse in the air. You walk by — within about 1.8m of the offender — and inadvertently inhale the droplets.
The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 begins like most other respiratory viruses. Scientists are still studying what happens in the body when someone gets infected and how the virus in some patients progresses to the lungs, causing viral pneumonia, difficulty breathing, and even death.
The race to better understand the virus comes as global death tolls spiral, patients flood emergency rooms, and US hospitals at the centre of the growing crisis clamour for supplies. Doctors have been forced to learn much about how the virus works as they go.
But there are some things scientists know based on how other similar respiratory viruses work. That coupled with recent case reports from infected patients in China and Washington state have given scientists a basic understanding of how it works though they say there is still much to be learned.

How to get the best out of telehealth in the COVID-19 era

Dr Epstein is a GP and PhD student at the Department of General Practice at Monash University, Melbourne.
30th March 2020
As our workforce prepares for the peak of COVID-19, the importance of telehealth has been catapulted to the front and centre of primary care.
My initial feelings around telehealth were very skeptical. How am I going to provide a medicolegally safe opinion without examining a patient?
But in the current environment, it could be argued that failing to use telehealth for potential COVID-19 cases and vulnerable patients would be irresponsible.
Thankfully, I’ve been experimenting with telehealth for the past three years and I believe COVID-19 presents a turning point for primary care, from which we will never return.
Monday, 30 March 2020 10:38

Morrison: No anonymous tracking of people to enforce COVID-19 rules

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government would not be looking to use location data to track people anonymously in order to find out if they are following the rules which have been put in place to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check within the country.
During a media conference on Sunday, an unnamed journalist asked whether Australia would be following the UK – which has started tracking data to see if the community is following lockdown laws. The journalist added: "Is that something Australia would consider, and what are the other potential implications of that mass of contact and movement data that you would potentially have access to which could help us limit the spread?"
Morrison responded: "Well, the Australian government isn't doing that. What I want to be clear about is the policies and measures that we will put in place for Australia will be right for Australia.

Tech ‘vital’ for protecting elderly

The nearly one million elderly Australians living on their own – and their families – should look to technology solutions to help cope with the COVID-19 epidemic according to Melbourne entrepreneur Adam Jahnke, the founder of health tech start-up Umps.
Mr Jahnke, who named Umps after his grandfather, told The Australian that the government’s decision to keep older Australians away from their loved ones presents unique challenges that can be tackled with smart home tech.
On March 13 the federal government released guidelines for aged care homes recommending they restrict entry to essential staff only, and family members do not visit the elderly unless necessary.
Mr Jahnke said these guidelines are currently being adapted for home care providers, who are now recommending smart home technology be put in place to complement their existing services.

Healthcare’s blockchain opportunity

Blockchain has the ability to help the healthcare industry automate and cut down its processes, which can help it in turn save costs that can be funnelled back into important patient care, according to one of the top executives from US cloud computing specialists Tibco.
Tibco chief technology officer Nelson Petracek told The Australian that despite a decline in search traffic for blockchain across the board, now was the time for the technology to prove itself in important ways, like in the healthcare sector.
As reported in The Australian today, blockchain is the top 'hard skill' when it comes to current technology job opportunities. Blockchain is a distributed, decentralised, public ledger; a system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.
Mr Petracek said that despite an overall downturn the ACT had spiked in searches for blockchain, which was likely driven by government interest in the technology following the publication of Australia's National Blockchain Roadmap.

Zoom: Who is listening to your video conference call?

The news that Boris Johnson hosted a Cabinet meeting via Zoom has sparked concerns about the app's security levels, writes James Cook.
James Cook
Mar 30, 2020 – 9.55am
London | When Boris Johnson hosted Britain's first video-conferenced Cabinet meeting last week, it took place not through secret military video calling technology, but on Zoom. That is the same app now being used around the world for everything from virtual exercise classes to choir rehearsals.
However, experts warn that a rush to hold virtual meetings through Zoom, which has close to 13 million monthly active users, could pose security risks.
The threat is so significant that UK Ministry of Defence staff were told that the use of Zoom was being suspended with immediate effect while "security implications" were investigated. The biggest worry is that a sudden reliance on Zoom could allow opportunistic hackers to quietly observe video calls as executives are focused on responding to the spread of coronavirus.
For now, it seems that internet pranksters are content with carrying out disruption to business calls on Zoom, rather than espionage.

ClinicArrivals – helping Australian GPs with Covid-19

Posted on March 29, 2020 by Grahame Grieve
A couple of weeks ago, Nathan Pinskier reached out to me on behalf of the RACGP expressing concern about the impact of COvid-19 on Australian GPs.
Talking to Nathan, it was clear that there’s 2 acute challenges facing GPs:
  • sudden real concern about infection control and therefore keeping patients out of the waiting room
  • Rapid changes in telehealth arrangements.
As a gross generalisation, over a 2 week period, GPs have moved from being not allowed to use telehealth at all to being required to do it for a rapidly growing percentage of their population. You just can’t make changes to your system and workflow that quickly. And though there are good tele-health solutions out there, they are not integrated into the existing systems that GPs are using. As a consequence, GPs are trying to use WhatsApp or Skype, but these are a workflow disaster in this context (see, for instance, how to get your skype id).
What is needed is something that is zero impact for patients, ubiquitously available, and deeply integrated into a GPs workflow, since that’s increasing at this time. Further, it has to be available NOW, without requiring system change for every GP in the country.

Bosses panic-buy spy software to keep tabs on remote workers

Polly Mosendz and Anders Melin
Updated Mar 30, 2020 – 9.04am, first published at 8.52am
The email came from the boss.
We're watching you, it told Axos Financial employees working from home. We're capturing your keystrokes. We're logging the websites you visit. Every 10 minutes or so, we're taking a screen shot. So get to work - or face the consequences.
"We have seen individuals taking unfair advantage of flexible work arrangements" by essentially taking vacations, Gregory Garrabrants, the online bank's chief executive officer, wrote in the March 16 message reviewed by Bloomberg News. If daily tasks aren't completed, workers "will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination".
Straight-up Big Brother, perhaps, but it's perfectly legal for businesses to keep an unblinking eye on employees as long as they disclose they're doing it. Of course, digital surveillance has been used for years on office desktops, yet it seems a violation of privacy to a lot of workers when they're required to have software on their computers that tracks their every move in their own homes.

Telehealth and COVID-19: a guide for GPs

Authored by Meena Qidwai
A COMPREHENSIVE national telehealth policy has been recognised by the government as a critical tool in protecting the wellbeing of patients and doctors in response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. As a practising GP in a Sydney clinic and online, I believe we as clinicians play a significant role in how these telehealth services are implemented safely and responsibly. I also see a real urgency in the rapid uptake of these measures as COVID-19 continues to affect Australia’s frontline clinics, hospitals and pharmacies.
The Health Minister has been rapidly increasing access to telehealth services in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. On 13 March, new Medicare Benefits Schedule items were applied to high risk patients and those diagnosed with COVID-19 or in self-isolation. Then new items enabled at-risk GPs to bulk bill telehealth for all consultations with their patients in a step to protect the vulnerable members of our medical workforce.
From 30 March 2020, the federal government has expanded the eligibility criteria for all patients, with or without COVID-19, to receive funded access to a GP or medical specialist via a telehealth platform during the COVID-19 health emergency. The large scale access to online GP appointments will certainly reduce the risk and burden in clinics, hospitals and pharmacies and be critical in the fight against COVID-19. As clinicians on the frontline, we now have the responsibility to consider best practice in implementing these services quickly and effectively. Below are some thoughts for consideration.

MyGov’s ill-timed meltdown could have been avoided with ‘elastic computing’

March 27, 2020 5.04pm AEDT


1.       Erica Mealy
Lecturer in Computer Science, University of the Sunshine Coast
These past few weeks have shown the brittleness of Australia’s online systems. It’s not surprising the federal government’s traditionally slow-moving IT systems are buckling under the pressure.
On Sunday, the federal government announced it would double unemployment benefits as part of its coronavirus rescue package. But when MyGov’s online services crashed, thousands of desperate Australians felt compelled to disobey social distancing rules – forming long queues outside Centrelink offices across the country.
With widespread school and university closures, IT services are now the contingency plan of the education sector. For many, they’re the main means of interacting with the outside world.
Unfortunately, these services are only as good as their design. And unless designers prepare for extreme circumstances such as this pandemic, they’re destined to fail.

Privacy vs pandemic: government tracking of mobile phones could be a potent weapon against COVID-19

March 27, 2020 2.28pm AEDT


1.       Patrick Fair
Adjunct Professor, School of Information Technology, Deakin University
Borders, beaches, pubs and churches are closed, large events are cancelled, and travellers are subject to 14 days’ isolation – all at significant cost to taxpayers and the economy. But could telecommunications technology offer a more targeted approach to controlling the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus?
One possibility is to use location history data from the mobile phones of confirmed cases, to help track and trace the spread of infection.
Some people can be contagious without knowing, either because they have not yet developed symptoms, or because their symptoms are mild. These individuals cannot be identified until they become sufficiently unwell to seek medical assistance. Finding them more quickly could help curb the spread of the disease.
This suggestion clearly raises complex privacy issues.
All mobile service providers in Australia are required to hold two years of data relating to the use of each mobile phone on their network, including location information.

‘Medicare at home’ a vital step to counter COVID-19

The expansion of telehealth services to cover all medical and many allied health consultations is a watershed advance in the fight against coronavirus, the Consumers Health Forum said today.
Responding to the Federal Government’s $669 million boost to Medicare payments for telehealth services to support phone and video consultations, the CEO of Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said the new measure was a “win, win” for patients and doctors.
“This much-expanded telehealth ‘Medicare at home’ measure keeps both patients and providers safe in terms of social distancing but also safeguards and ensures care for those non-coronavirus patients with complex chronic conditions so they can continue to be cared for safely.
“This development highlights how much we can better maximise available capabilities, even the telephone, to improve our campaign against coronavirus.  Now we need to see governments and private hospitals working together to ensure their huge capabilities can be recruited in the fight against the virus.
Comments more than welcome!