Again, in the last week, I have come across a few reports and news items which are worth passing on.
These include first:
Karen Dearne | May 21, 2008
A LANDMARK review of privacy laws is set to recommend civil penalties for failure to notify the federal Privacy Commissioner of any data security breaches, Australian Law Reform Commission president David Weisbrot says.
The ALRC's final report on the review of the Privacy Act is due to be presented to the federal Government this Friday.
"Individuals want to know when their personal information has been compromised," Professor Weisbrot told the AusCERT 2008 conference yesterday. “People are aware that electronic databases can be breached, and they fear an increased risk of identity theft."
Professor Weisbrot said many US states had civil penalties for failure to advise affected individuals; in Alabama the penalty is $US10,000 for each breach, while in Florida there is a $500,000 cap on fines.
However, the ALRC will propose that data notifications only be triggered where the breach involves a real risk of serious harm to an individual.
Special Minister of State John Faulkner has committed to an overhaul of the nation's privacy laws in response to the vast technological changes since the Act was promulgated 30 years ago.
It will be important for all of those with an interest in e-Health to keep a close eye on what comes out of this given the sensitivity of health information in the mind of the public.
Second we have:
Jennifer Foreshew | May 20, 2008
MELBOURNE company Evado is planning to expand its operations into the US following the launch of its low-cost software for clinical trials.
The company, a division of Invision, will today unveil the mobile version of its software, launched late last year.
Evado will run on Intel's Mobile Clinical Assistant and is being used by Dr John Woodard, chief scientific officer at Ventracor, who is the co-inventor of the VentrAssist "artificial heart".
Dr Woodard and his team will use the software on Intel's MCA for a new study to develop a fully implantable device.
Evado founder and chief executive Jennie Anderson said another three organisations were negotiating to purchase the software. The company has a reseller agreement with SeerPharma, an Australian company, with offices in Asia, and another reseller agreement is being negotiated for the US and Britain.
This is really good news that there is some successful innovation happening in this software area in Australia. Good luck to them with the international expansion.
Third we have:
May 19, 2008 - 4:20PM
The federal government has ripped $170 million out of existing GP programs to fund its Super Clinics, a doctors' group says.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Rosanna Capolingua said the funding had been cut from programs available to all general practices, whereas the 31 GP Super Clinics, costing $275.2 million over five years, were specific.
"The AMA maintains that this money will need to be well targeted at areas of need and must add to, rather than replace, local health infrastructure if it is to be effective," she said.
"These cuts to general practice seem contrary to the government's stated focus on strengthening primary care."
More than $83 million has been cut from GP immunisation incentives plus $110 million from support for e-health and $26 million from after-hours services.
Funding was allocated for an extra 150 scholarships for medical students to undertake rural placements each year.
But the Australian Medical Workforce Advisory Committee estimated Australia needed around 1,000 new GPs each year, Dr Capolingua said.
I doubt the AMA will give much rest to the Government on this apparent reduction in the e-health and primary care areas. On this I must say I agree. Re-distribution of funds to suit the Labor directions is fine – but cutting that much really is a concern.
Fourthly we have:
Julia Medew and Jill Stark
May 19, 2008
OVERCROWDED Victorian hospitals are altering computer data and admitting emergency patients to non-existent "virtual wards" to meet State Government targets for bonus payments.
Leaked minutes from a recent meeting of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine reveal that almost 40% of hospitals have been "admitting" patients when they are, in fact, still languishing in emergency waiting rooms, corridors or on trolleys.
The document also shows that more than a quarter of 21 hospitals surveyed by the college had changed figures to give the impression patients were being moved to beds within eight hours.
A doctor who did not want to be named told The Age the virtual wards existed only in cyberspace and were used purely for "creative accounting".
Public hospitals receive bonuses for reaching State Government benchmarks that require 80% of patients to be admitted within eight hours of arrival. Studies have shown that patient care is compromised by spending long periods of time in emergency departments.
The fact that managers are being ‘economical with the truth’ and distorting figures shows just how much pressure the public hospital sectors around the country are. Really a sad symptom of the stress in the sector.
More on this is also found here:
Julia Medew and David Rood
May 20, 2008
THE Victorian Government has launched an inquiry into allegations that public hospitals are creating "virtual wards" and altering computer data to receive performance bonuses.
Health Minister Daniel Andrews ordered the investigation yesterday after The Age revealed almost 40% of hospitals surveyed by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine had been "admitting" patients when they were still languishing in emergency waiting rooms, corridors or on trolleys.
The survey of senior emergency department doctors from 19 Victorian hospitals also found that a quarter of the hospitals had changed figures to give the impression patients were being moved to beds within eight hours.
"No complaints have been made, no evidence has been put forward that would in any way support the claims that have been made," Mr Andrews said yesterday before announcing the Department of Human Services would look into the survey. "It is my expectation that every single health service will provide accurate data."
Continue reading here:
Fifth we have:
Abstracted from The Australian Financial Review
The Victorian Government has contracted a consultancy to assist in developing a national electronic health records system. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is on a $A1.3 billion six-month contract to plan a strategy, which is backed by the National e-Health Transition Authority and will be presented to the Council of Australian Governments.
The URL of the full AFR article is here
It is really good to see the planning process has at last begun. Will look forward to see how it work out over the next few months.
More on this is also available here:
May 19, 2008
The Victorian government has hired Deloitte for AU$1.3 million to develop an Australia-wide e-health strategy.
The strategy is intended to provide a vision or recommended "future state" for e-health over both public and private sectors for the next five to 10 years, and give advice on what forms of governance will need to be put into place to manage it, according to tender documents.
To come up with the strategy, Deloitte will be delving into Australia's current e-health capability in all states, public and private, and the current effects of technology on healthcare. The state of international e-health will also form part of the report.
For more see here:
Sixth we have:
Article from the Courier Mail
May 20, 2008 12:00am
QUEENSLANDERS could have access to a new system that electronically delivers a doctor's prescription to any pharmacist in the state, similar to a scheme that has just been rolled out in the Northern Territory.
Queensland Health's chief information officer, Paul Summergreene, says the department is investigating the system and determining whether it will be introduced in the Sunshine State.
"We are actively looking at the efficiency, accuracy and speed of medication discharge information such as the electronic transfer of prescriptions," he told The Courier-Mail online.
The NT Government this month became the first state or territory to introduce electronic prescriptions.
Continue reading here:
Looks like a bit of publicity seeking ‘me-to-ism’ to me following the NT announcements! I wonder how long they have actually been considering this.
Last we have:
Karen Dearne | May 20, 2008
IT's time to fundamentally rethink IT security, as industry heavyweights rule out passwords, patching and anti-virus software as well past their use-by date at AusCERT 2008 this week.
John Stewart, chief security officer of Cisco, told the conference new collaboration technologies are moving users into a truly information-centric world, yet “we're relying on the user to do the right thing”.
“Security professionals know that the most dangerous thing of all is the person operating the computer,” he said. “If you envision installing software without knowing its source, then making it part of how you share information - users have to know what to do to protect it.
“This is the space we're moving into - we're actually asking users to do much more than they've ever had to do before.”
Mr Stewart said patching is dead as a first line of defence, while the volume of malicious software circulating has overwhelmed anti-virus makers.
“Patching is problematic because companies rely on their infrastructure, and you can't have it offline to patch,” he said. “If I do have to patch, then I only want to do so in the restricted timeframes when I can take the system offline.
“Meanwhile, anti-virus is a signature technology, and it's mathematically impossible for the software vendors to keep up. Worse, malware is becoming harder to detect, because hackers actually want to keep the infrastructures running.
“Businesses instrument their networks for availability, so malware is no longer trying to disrupt. Instead, the intent is to steal information, and it's trying to do that very quietly because it wants to remain in your system as long as possible.”
This was clearly an important conference with the core message being that internet security is getting very much harder. Obviously those with responsibility for keeping data safe and accurate need to carefully review the proceedings.
More information is available here:
More next week.