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, February 17, 2008

Useful and Interesting Health IT Links from the Last Week – 17/02/2008

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

These include first:

Howard's access card dumped

February 14, 2008 02:00am

Article from the Daily Telegraph

MORE than $1 billion that would have been spent on introducing a controversial access card for Australians will now be returned to federal coffers, Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig said.

Labor will scrap the Howard government's plan for an access card, which triggered privacy concerns and was compared to identity cards.

It was intended to replace the Medicare card and up to 16 other benefit cards, streamlining access to a range of health and welfare services.

Senator Ludwig said the card would have cost more than expected, without saving as much as it was supposed to. He said the money would be better spent on other policies.

"I'll return almost $1.2billion to the budget for taxpayers," Senator Ludwig said.

Continue reading here:


This finally put the Access Card to be as the money has now been diverted to other tasks – or maybe just held in the surplus as part of the Government’s attempt to settle inflation down.

In some ways the cancellation of this project is sad in some ways, in the sense that with a proper privacy sensitive design and a better designed change management approach the card could have been a useful piece of infrastructure to make life easier for many while reducing fraud. A reasonable idea very poorly executed by the Howard Government.

I fear NEHTA will be equally insensitive about privacy concerns with the Individual Health Identifier and that may indeed lead to its eventual failure – time will tell.

Further information on the topic is here

Access card funds go to health, schools

February 13, 2008 - 5:02PM

More than $1 billion that would have been spent on introducing a controversial access card for Australians will now be returned to federal coffers, Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig says.

Senator Ludwig says the money will boost savings and help fund the government's promises in education and health.

Labor will scrap the Howard government's plan for an access card, which had triggered privacy concerns and was compared to a national identity card.

Continue reading here:


Second we have:

Commissioner signals new powers as part of privacy reforms

Mandatory reporting for business to get go ahead this year

Darren Pauli 13/02/2008 12:54:45

Amendments to the Privacy Act to be introduced this year include a range of sweeping new powers allowing the Privacy Commissioner to enforce the mandatory reporting of new data breaches.

Under the new laws, Australian businesses will be forced to publicly detail data breaches. The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has submitted recommendations to reform the Privacy Act in an 800 page discussion paper with 301 proposals.

The reforms will likely give the Privacy Commissioner new powers to amend legislation to facilitate emerging technologies including biometrics, data warehousing of customer information and high profile breaches of sensitive data.

Speaking at the SecurityPoint 2008 conference in Sydney today, Andrew Hayne deputy, acting director for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, said the new Privacy Act will require public notification of breaches that expose sensitive customer information.

"There will be a requirement for notification of significant breaches in order to make organizations take adequate safeguards [to protect data]," Hayne said.

"The requirement should not be an unreasonable burden on business and it should not result in alarmous [sic] notification.

"Notification should only be needed in cases where breaches could cause serious harm [to customers] such as financial damages or risk of discrimination or embarrassment."

Hayne said defining 'serious harm' is the "$64,000 question".

Continue reading here:


This seems to me to be an important reform. It seems to me that any organisation – big or small – that lets identified sensitive personal information out of its doors should automatically inform the affected individuals know the leak has occurred and what information has been exposed. This should not be in anyway optional and any impacts the follow should be fully and properly addressed and if necessary compensated.

Third we have:

CIOs: Errors Prevention a Priority

Investing in information technologies designed to help reduce medication errors is a top priority, panelists in a CIO roundtable conference call said on February 8.

The CIO Roundtable was sponsored by Picis, a Wakefield, Mass.-based software company, as a prelude to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Annual Conference, to be held February 24-28 in Orlando.

“We need to spend on the right technology to reduce medical errors, especially medication reconciliation and administration systems,” said Richard McKnight, CIO of the nine-hospital Novant Health delivery system in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Joseph Sullivan, CIO at six-hospital Saint Barnabas Health Care System in Toms River, N.J., offered a similar assessment: “We’re looking for systems that reduce errors, including medication administration, medication reconciliation, pharmacy systems and clinical systems.”

Sharp HealthCare, a seven-hospital system based in San Diego, is testing a new medication reconciliation system, said William Spooner, CIO. The organization wants to devise ways to gather data from its core clinical information systems to conduct retrospective reviews of how errors could have been prevented, he added. “We’re also looking at new applications to track infection events.”

Continue reading here:


It is good to see that at least Health CIOs in the US know a major issue for Health IT is to reduce the level of errors throughout the health sector.

Fourthly we have:

Some breast cancer Web sites inaccurate, study finds

Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:59am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five percent of breast cancer Web sites have mistakes, with those involving alternative or complementary medicine the most likely to be misleading, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

But breast cancer information available on the Internet is more accurate than others carrying health information, the team at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in the University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston found.

"Our current recommendation to patients is to be skeptical, make sure what patients read is applicable to their specific medical well-being and not to take action without consulting a clinician," said Dr. Funda Meric-Bernstam, who led the study.

Writing in the journal Cancer, Meric-Bernstam and colleagues said they could not find an easy way to flag the inaccurate sites.

"Most consumers find online information by using general-purpose search engines rather than medical sites or portals, and most do not go beyond the first page of search results," her team wrote in the journal Cancer.

"Therefore, we used five popular search engines -- Google, Yahoo Directory, Alta-Vista, Overture, and AllTheWeb -- to identify Web pages that consumers are likely to encounter."

They examined 343 Web pages and found one in 20 had inaccuracies. They found 41 inaccurate statements on 18 of the Web sites, or 5.2 percent of sites.

Those displaying complementary and alternative medicine were 15 times more likely to contain false or misleading health information, they reported.

Continue reading here:


It seems to me that what this survey indicates is that it is difficult for the typical consumer to assess the quality of clinical information web sites.

My recommendation for consumers it to only rely on sites offered my major governments and sites that are under the control of reputable organisations – e.g. the Mayo Clinic, The Cancer Council etc.

Another useful approach is discussed here:

Finding reliable health information online

13 Feb 2008

Lots of health care information is available on the internet, but it can be hard to know what is current and medically correct. Recent surveys have shown that up to 59% of Europeans use the internet as a resource for health and wellness-related information.

Knowing which sites and what information to trust can be a minefield, but one Swiss-based website, the Health on the Net Foundation, has been offering a dedicated website, which aims to protect citizens from false or misleading health and ethical information for 12 years now.

The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, set up by participants of the Use of the Internet and World-Wide Web for Telematics in Healthcare conference in 1995. Its aim was to create a centralised, legitimate way for people to find accurate health information.

Continue reading here:



HON Foundation

Fifth we have:

Alliance to offer common HIE, RHIO definitions

By John Moore

project sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to clarify the definition of health information exchange and other common health IT terms will produce a draft of its conclusions next week.

The Chicago-based National Alliance for Health Information Technology manages the effort as a subcontractor to BearingPoint. The project’s Network Work Group focuses on the terms HIE and regional health information organization (RHIO).

Jane Horowitz, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Alliance, said the project’s literature search uncovered 20 unique definitions for HIE and 18 for RHIO. The Alliance now aims to cultivate consensus definitions with the goal of eliminating a barrier to HIT adoption.

Horowitz said a number of HIT terms have overlapping meanings, are used inconsistently or have different meanings in different settings. She said the project seeks practical definitions for the legislative environment and contractual arrangements where parties need a clear understanding of terms.

Other uses for the basic definitions include establishing a dialogue between technology vendors and customers and explaining HIT terms for the general public, the alliance said. “Because there’s so much confusion over these words, it is obviously one of the barriers to adoption,” Horowitz said.

Continue reading here:


This is a recurrent problem – defining just what means what – and it is good someone is having a consultative attempt at getting some sense into all this.

Lastly we have:

Microsoft Announces the Amalga Family of Health Enterprise Systems

The new lineup of health information solutions spanning clinical, operational and financial functions will be showcased for the first time at HIMSS 2008.

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 13, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the Microsoft Amalga Family of Health Enterprise Systems. The Amalga product lineup is a portfolio of enterprise-class health information system solutions spanning clinical, operational and financial functions. The Amalga family of products will be demonstrated publicly for the first time at the health IT industry’s largest conference, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2008, Feb. 24–28 in Orlando, Fla.

“One of the healthcare enterprise’s biggest issues is that providers and executives can’t access patient information when, where and how they need it,” said Steve Shihadeh, general manager for Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group. “Microsoft’s Amalga products offer proven solutions that bring together information from across the healthcare enterprise into one, easily accessible view. In fact, the name ‘Amalga’ is based on the Latin word ‘amalgama,’ meaning to bring together different elements.”

The Amalga family of products includes the following:

Microsoft Amalga. The new version of the product formerly known as Azyxxi, Amalga is part of a new software category called Unified Intelligence Systems that allows hospital enterprises to unlock the power of all their data sitting in isolated clinical, financial and administrative systems. Without replacing current systems, it offers an innovative way to capture, consolidate, store, access and quickly present data in meaningful ways for use by clinicians and executives of leading-edge institutions. Amalga is designed for hospitals and health systems that have invested in a diverse set of IT solutions.

Microsoft Amalga Hospital Information System (HIS). The new version of the product previously named Hospital 2000, Amalga HIS is a state-of-the-art, fully integrated hospital information system designed for developing and emerging markets. Amalga HIS is built around an electronic medical record (EMR) with complete patient and bed management, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology information system and picture archiving and communication system (RIS/PACS), pathology, financial accounting, materials management, and human resource systems.

Microsoft Amalga RIS/PACS. The new version of the product formerly known as GCS Amalga is now available as a stand-alone system as well as an integrated component of Amalga HIS. The integrated architecture means that a radiologist can use a single application to manipulate and study images and access the patient medical record. The workstation interface is optimized for radiologist workflow, including support for predefined templates, an intuitive report editor and voice recognition capabilities.

Amalga, the unified intelligence system, is now live at MedStar Health, a community-based network of eight hospitals and other healthcare services in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area. As part of the early adopter program, the beta of the new version is in the hands of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Johns Hopkins Health System, Novant Health, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, St. Joseph Health System and the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange.

“We are excited that we are a part of this early adopter program,” said Ed Martinez, chief information officer at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. “Amalga is the backbone of our Total Cancer Care initiative. It provides instant access to the information, and allows researchers to make and prove their hypotheses within minutes instead of months.”

“We are upgrading to the latest version of Amalga HIS,” said Curt Schroeder, group CEO of Bumrungrad International Hospital. “This application has been a key part of our success, and we look forward to the new features, such as a medication management system designed to assure five ‘rights’ crucial for patient safety: the right patient, the right medication, the right dosage, the right route and the right time.”

Amalga, the unified intelligence system, is being targeted for release to manufacturing in the first half of calendar year 2008. An early-adopter customer program is being established for the released versions of Amalga HIS and Amalga RIS/PACS, which are focused on healthcare providers in countries outside the United States.

Interested organizations should contact amalga@microsoft.com. More information on the Amalga family is available at http://www.microsoft.com/amalga.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

URL for Press Release here:


Continue reading here:

Just a head ups that the behemoth is moving. Makes interesting reading when combined with the MS HealthVault project

More next week.



Anonymous said...

At Microsoft we want to grow, bigger, stronger and healthier every day. To do that we will need to eat lots of apples. Some say an ‘apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but we want to prove that wrong. We want the doctor to come to us so we can help make the patient better.

Amalgamating all the pieces we need to make health healthier will take time. We have to find, buy and integrate many pieces into our mixture and make it ready for the patient to swallow - gulp. The health system is very sick and in need of some strong medicine.

At Microsoft we think the best way that can be done is to find ways for people to use our systems to help hospitals run better and doctors to treat better. At Microsoft we believe we can help ease the pressure on hospitals by helping people to get more control over their own health. We also think if the patient can be given more access to and control over their health record it will better reflect what has been happening to the patient because all the information will be amalgamated in the one place. This has to be better than what we have today. So eating more apples is the answer to becoming happier and healthier everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Remember 'pacman' from the 1980's. It became a worldwide phenomena, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, burp, gobble, gobble. How many of its health software developers will Microsoft gobble up? What a great exit opportunity for them. And how many will it simply squash as it expands into their space with its own solutions?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft pervades virtually every nook and cranny of the entire health system from health departments downwards through the hospitals out into medical practices and beyond to the patient or consumer at home. It all seems so logical for Microsoft to glue its products into place by putting application software solutions on top of them and integrating the applications, one with another, which will securely nail down its extensive footprint well into the future. AMALGAMATE is the strategy . AMALGA is the brand which adds it all together. Sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Could AMALGA be the missing ‘peace’? I think not. The ‘piece’ it really needs is GOOGLE.

Now if GOOGLE and YAHOO ‘amalgamated’ their resources Microsoft could find YAHOOGOOGLE a serious contender in the health sector. I Feel Better Now.