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."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Useful and Interesting Health IT Links from the Last Week – 27/01/2008

Again, in the last week, I have come across a few reports and news items which are worth passing on.

These include first:

Tech's all-time top 25 flops

These pivotal moments are the history you don't want to repeat

Neil McAllister (InfoWorld) 22/01/2008 11:20:32

Imagine how different the tech industry might have been had Gary Kildall accepted IBM's offer, back in 1980, to license his computer operating system for a top-secret project. CP/M would have been the OS that shipped with the original IBM PC, and the world might never have heard the name of Kildall's competitor, who eventually accepted the contract: a Mr. Bill Gates.

For all the amazing advances that the computing industry has brought us over the years, some of its most pivotal moments are memorable for all the wrong reasons. Not every idea can be a winner, and not even Microsoft can avoid every misstep. But as they say, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it -- and then again, others just keep screwing up. In the interest of schadenfreude, then, here is a look back at the last 20 years' worth of blunders, fumbles, also-rans, and downright disasters that you may have forgotten about -- or wish you could.

25. IBM PS/2. The original IBM PC hit the market like lightning in 1981. Unlike earlier IBM computers, it was built with off-the-shelf parts instead of proprietary components, making it the most affordable business machine yet. But by the late 1980s, IBM found itself edged out of the market by Compaq and the other PC clone makers. Its solution? Try again with proprietary components, of course!

The Personal System/2 series, introduced in 1987, was meant to be "software compatible" with the PC, but its Micro Channel Architecture made it incompatible with existing hardware. The clones had no such problem. Like the disastrous PCjr before it and the PS/1 series to follow, the PS/2 convinced customers that lightning would never strike twice in IBM's PC division.

24. Virtual reality. In 1982, the movie "Tron" imagined a man traveling the eerie internal landscapes of a computer. Fifteen years later, the technology arrived to make it happen -- sort of.

Building a spatial interface for the Internet was all the rage in the late 1990s, owing in part to VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language). The problem was, it didn't make much sense. The Web put the world of information at your fingertips; leave it to software engineers to find a way to send it back down the street, across a bridge, and up two flights of stairs.

The concept lives on today in Second Life, which seems to think the problem is not enough advertising. But the truth is that mainstream users have never warmed to VR. Wake us up when we can ride real lightcycles to work and meet our clients on the Game Grid.

Continue reading the quite long article below for number 23-1 here:


Sorry, I really could not resist this. All those amazing and expensive missteps in an industry that claims to be smart. Just shows how hard prediction is. Who or what do you reckon got number 1?. Well all I can say is that Windows Vista got number 2!

Second we have:

Royal Navy loses laptop with data on 600,000 people

A laptop containing personal data on about 600,000 people has been stolen from the Royal Navy, the UK Ministry of Defense said Friday.

James Niccolai (IDG News Service) 21/01/2008 12:26:36

A laptop containing personal information on about 600,000 people was stolen from an officer in the Royal Navy, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense said on Friday.

The laptop contained information about new and potential recruits to the Royal Marines, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, and was stolen in Birmingham last week, the ministry said.

The stolen data includes passport details, national insurance numbers, family details and doctors' addresses for people who submitted an application to the forces, the ministry said. The laptop also contained bank details for at least 3,500 people.

"The Ministry of Defence is treating the loss of this data with the utmost seriousness," it said in a statement.

It is writing to people whose bank details were on the laptop and has notified the Association for Payment Clearing Services to watch for unauthorized access, it said.

The ministry is investigating the theft with the West Midlands Police. The laptop was stolen Jan. 10, but the ministry said it didn't disclose the incident immediately for fear of compromising the investigation. It decided to go public with the loss after media reports surfaced about it on Friday, it said.

Continue reading here:


This is quite a bad information leak. What I struggle to understand is how organisations which have access to information on this scale do not have basic processes in place to prevent occurrences like this. Even basic approaches like ensuring encryption of all data that leaves an organisation’s physical control can make a huge difference. Anyone who allows any staff to wander off with unencrypted information of this depth and sensitivity on a personal lap top should just lose their job – all the way up the chain to the CEO or Minister. The time to make such breaches a criminal offense is fast approaching.

Third we have:

NSW dumps Tcard for good

Correspondents in Sydney | January 23, 2008

The NSW government has terminated its contract for the integrated public transport ticketing system, the Tcard, after the company behind the project repeatedly failed to meet targets.

Transport Minister John Watkins said the contract with Integrated Ticketing Solutions (ITSL) was cancelled at 1pm (AEDT) today.

The government will now pursue a damages claim to recover as much as possible of the $95 million taxpayers have spent on the Tcard.

The termination of the contact comes after the government in November last year issued ITSL with a notice of intention to terminate the Tcard contact on December 3.

The company responded with a proposal outlining a timetable that would have had the Tcard fully operational in 2009.

But, Mr Watkins said a review of the plan by the Public Transport Ticketing Corporation (PTTC) found it was unsatisfactory.

Continue reading here:


Further information on the cancellation is available here:

$95m down the drain, and transport card is years off

Alexandra Smith

January 24, 2008

SYDNEY'S long-suffering commuters will have to wait years, perhaps even a decade, for an integrated cashless ticketing system for buses, trains and ferries after the Iemma Government finally terminated the contract for the failed Tcard project yesterday.

In a bid to save face, the Transport Minister, John Watkins, immediately promised the Government would recoup the $95 million NSW taxpayers have forked out on the delayed project, starting yesterday with the seizure of a $10 million performance bond.

But Mr Watkins, who has repeatedly expressed frustration with the project, could not say when commuters would finally have the sort of smart transport card that other cities around the world have implemented.

Instead, he laid all blame for the chronically delayed project on the Perth contractor, ERG, which has implemented smart cards in cities including Hong Kong, Melbourne, Rome, San Francisco and Singapore.

Mr Watkins said the company's history was one of "missed deadlines and missed opportunities". He admitted Sydney's system was a complex job for ERG, but said it had gone into the contract "with their eyes open".

"Ongoing delays, failures and the company's appalling project management have left the Government no choice," he said.

Continue reading here:


There are sure to be lessons here for all large public sector technology projects which I am sure will emerge over the next year or so.

This total project has run for over a decade – the original plan being to have the system in place for the 2000 Sydney Olympics – and, given the company has actually implemented similar system in other cities around the world one really wonders at the competence of the NSW Government in managing this. At first look it seems to me the contract (which was signed in February 2003) should have been cancelled by early in 2006 – allowing an extra year for success – rather than letting it drag on for another two years.

I suspect this is another occasion where NSW Government’s project management and not the company’s project management is at fault – despite the rather hollow claims of Minister Watkins.

It is a basic axiom that any technology project that runs for more than a few years has a very high chance of failure unless there are the most exceptional circumstances or complexity. An integrated ticketing system for Sydney hardly falls into that category given the number of cities around the world who have succeeded.

The following analysis seems to support my view

Pointing fingers towards the wrong direction

January 24, 2008


With the Iemma Government, there is always someone else to blame. In the case of the disastrous Tcard project, the one to blame is either the company ERG or the former transport minister, Carl Scully, for signing the contract.

The Government could have ended this contract a long time ago. But it went to the election still promising to deliver an integrated ticketing system for Sydney.

The Tcard is emblematic: if something so apparently simple cannot be delivered, what hope can we have in the Government's promises to deliver much more complex proposals, such as a metro rail system or the M4 East project?

Tcard is just another example of how other cities can achieve things that Sydney can't. Brisbane has one, Melbourne has one, Perth has one.

Continue reading here:


Fourthly we have:

The Internet is down -- now what?

If the Internet goes down, will you be ready?

Gary Anthes 22/01/2008 10:30:50

It's likely that the Internet will soon experience a catastrophic failure, a multi-­day outage that will cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars."

Or maybe it isn't likely.

In any case, companies are not prepared for such a possibility.

But then again, some are.

These mixed messages come from credible sources. The confusion stems in part from the fact that the Internet has never seen anything much worse than local outages and brief slowdowns. But could it? And if it did, how ready would your company be?

Indeed, the threat is "urgent and real," says The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of large U.S. companies. The Washington-based public policy advocacy group says there is a 10% to 20% chance of a "breakdown of the critical information infrastructure" in the next 10 years, brought on by "malicious code, coding error, natural disasters, [or] attacks by terrorists and other adversaries."

An Internet meltdown would result in reduced productivity and profits, falling stock prices, erosion of consumer spending and potentially a liquidity crisis, according to a recent Business Roundtable report, "Growing Business Dependence on the Internet -- New Risks Require CEO Action." The organization based its conclusions on earlier risk analyses done by the World Economic Forum in Geneva.

Continue reading here:


This is really discussing the unthinkable, but in the health sector it is vital that the basic manual systems be exercised often enough to remain a viable, if not as efficient, alternative.

The thinking of the various organisations as to how they would cope is well worth a browse.

Fifthly we have:

International standards group accepts its first member organizations

By Bernie Monegain, Editor 01/18/08

The interim board of IHE International has accepted 93 members from the first group of applications submitted.

The new member organizations include healthcare professional societies, healthcare IT vendors, provider organizations, universities, standards organizations, government agencies and other stakeholder groups interested in promoting the adoption of interoperable healthcare IT systems and electronic patient records.

Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), now in its ninth year, is dedicated to improving patient care by promoting the adoption of standards-based and interoperable solutions for healthcare information systems.

To qualify for membership, organizations have to comply with IHE International's governance documents, which ensure transparency, equitable representation and the disclosure and fair use of intellectual property.

Representatives of the member organizations will be eligible to participate in the first election of IHE International board members in March. The current interim board comprises representatives of IHE's sponsoring organizations and each of its clinical/operational domains.

Continue reading here:


This is important news. We see from it that it is possible to make a difference to the quality and utility of Health IT around the world based on efforts of concerned individuals and organisations that aim to interoperate to make obtain overall improvement.

More power to their arm in these vital efforts – made that much more important by the strategic vacuum presently existing in Australia.

Lastly we have:


iSoft reaches halfway point on Irish PAS deal

23 Jan 2008

iSoft has reached the halfway point on a £41.5m project to deliver integrated patient management system to hospitals across Ireland. iSoft is providing its iPM PAS system under the contract.

The company announced that it has delivered systems which are now live in 26 hospitals in Ireland, a mixture of acute community and mental health. In total 52 Irish hospitals are covered by the deal.

The implementation programme is being managed by Ireland’s Health Service Executive, which is responsible for providing Health and Personal Social Services for everyone living in Ireland. iSoft say that the remaining hospitals will go-live over the next two years in accordance with HSE timescales. Ultimately the system will be rolled-out to all hospitals in Ireland.

In a statement, iSoft’s parent company, IBA Health, said it had also resolved outstanding contractual issues with HSE: “In addition to these successful implementations, a number of outstanding contractual matters with the HSE have now been resolved, including settlement of outstanding payments due to iSoft.”

Continue reading here:

This is good to see – IBA Health / iSoft making some real progress in another market. It augurs well for the eventual success of this largest Australian –owned Health IT provider. ( Disclosure: I am sure readers all recall I have a few – presently looking rather sick – shares in IBA).

More in next week.



Anonymous said...

With membership of the IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) now in its 9th year it is interesting to note which companies are not Members - eg: CERNER, CISCO, HP, INTEL, KODAK, MICROSOFT and SUN.

Given all their marketing hype around health it is surprising that not one of them have opted for a seat at the table in their own right. Of course, they are present to some extent through their 3rd party vendors.

Could this have anything to do with the membership qualifications - organizations have to comply with IHE International's governance documents, which ensure transparency, equitable representation and the disclosure and fair use of intellectual property.

By comparison GE, IBM, PHILIPS and SIEMENS are all present and correct. Is there a message here?

surturz said...

...one really wonders at the competence of the NSW Government in managing this.

Good grief, have you finally drunk the kool-aid, David?? ;-)