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, October 19, 2008

Useful and Interesting Health IT Links from the Last Week – 19/10/2008

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

These include first:

Keeping Your Own Health Chart, Online


BUSY people can easily forget to take their medications, or to write down symptoms or reactions during a course of treatment — information that could later be meaningful to a doctor.

New tools are being developed that may help harried patients, including those with chronic health conditions, monitor their medications, home tests and other details. The information can then be posted to a Web page that the patient can choose to share with a doctor, pharmacist, friend or caregiver.

Zume Life, of San Jose, Calif., for example, is testing a small hand-held device, the Zuri, that prompts users to take their pills on schedule and to keep track of health-related matters like diet and exercise.

“We’re going after users who are mobile, social, active people” who need to follow a health routine in the midst of busy lives, said Rajiv Mehta, the chief executive of Zume Life.

All of the data from this pocket-size electronic minder, which beeps or flashes when it’s time to take a pill, are uploaded to a Web portal. There, users can inspect, for example, graphs or charts of their exercise or other activities of the last few days or week. And, if the users wish, a caregiver can do so, too.

The Zuri will cost about $200 when it is released in the spring, Mr. Mehta said. Users will also pay about $40 to $50 a month for Web services. A software version of the device that will run on an iPhone is also in the works.

Kathleen Weaver, a high school teacher of computer science in the Dallas Independent School District, is testing a Zuri, using it to keep track of symptoms as well as medication related to diabetes, cardiovascular complications and a persistent cough.

“If I had to write all of this down, I don’t think I could,” she said. “I’m busy all day taking care of other people.”

People who are monitoring their health at home may also take advantage of new online data-storage services being developed by Google, Microsoft and other companies. HealthVault (www.healthvault.com) by Microsoft lets users upload data directly to their account from about 50 devices, including many blood pressure and heart rate monitors, blood glucose meters and weight scales, said Sean Nolan, a computer scientist and chief architect of the Microsoft Health Solutions Group in Redmond, Wash.

Much more here (free registration required):


This new set of devices is a new frontier for most patients and how they might really get some value from Personal Health A recommended read!

Second we have:

HCN refutes NPS claims drug prompts dupe GPs


By Paul Smith

MJA GPs are at risk of being duped by drug company advertising in Medical Director prescribing software that can easily be mistaken for decision-support prompts, the National Prescribing Service claims.

The owners of the software, HCN, has rubbished the claims, saying the prompts were not adverts and were not used to “promote” medications.

The NPS, writing in the Medical Journal of Australia (21 July), alleged that drug companies were using new marketing strategies with the introduction of what it described as “drug support prompts”.

“These prompts are linked to specific drugs and contain sponsored information from a pharmaceutical company,” the authors wrote. “Users of the software may find it difficult to identify these prompts as a form of advertising because their format and design are similar to clinical decision support prompts such as drug interaction alerts.

“If promotional messages are to be permitted in clinical software, at the very least they should be clearly labelled as such, so that the user can distinguish them from genuine decision support.”

More here (registration required):


The original letter is found here (free registration required):


No matter what HCN says there is just no excuse, in my view, for there to be any drug advertising in any clinical software – fullstop. There is a great market distortion in the costing of GP software that has been caused by Medical Director’s use of advertising and it is my view the use of advertising to sponsor clinical software is anathema.

Third we have:

Gershon slams Government ICT management as weak

Report identifies seven key areas and recommends slashing budgets

Trevor Clarke (ARN) 16/10/2008 17:16:00

The Gershon review has slammed the Australian Government’s use and management of ICT as weak while recommending budget cuts of up to 15 per cent.

In the report, author Sir Peter Gershon, who also undertook a similar review of the UK Government’s procurement strategy, claimed the Federal Government ICT marketplace was “neither efficient nor effective”.

“The current model of very high levels of agency autonomy, including the ability to self-approve opt-ins to whole-of-government approaches in the ICT domain, leads to sub-optimal outcomes in the context of prevailing external trends, financial returns, and the aims and objectives of the current Government,” he wrote.

The long-awaited review into government ICT, initially requested by Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, in April this year, was released October 16 and contains seven key findings and several recommendations.

The report highlighted weak governance mechanisms as contributing to the failure of agencies to realise benefits from ICT-enabled projects. It also identified a lack of scrutiny on funding, and “a disconnect between the stated importance of ICT and actions in relation to ICT skills”.

Gershon also criticised the existing sustainability program and added the absence of a whole-of-government strategic plan for datacentres could cost taxpayers up to $1 billion over 15 years if a more coordinated approach wasn’t implemented.

More here:


Additional coverage is also found here.

Sweeping changes for federal ICT

Karen Dearne | October 17, 2008

BUREAUCRATS will lose control over selecting their own computers and technologies in a proposed return to central planning and purchasing aimed at slashing the $16 billion annual spend by federal government agencies.

Peter Gershon, head of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner's razor gang, says the present approach is masking inefficiencies, while agency autonomy on buying decisions has led to fragmentation and wasteful duplication.

More here:


The reports are found here:

The Gershon report can be found at www.finance.gov.au/publications/ict-review/index.html or the PDF version.

The main issue to e-Health that flows from this review is that, at present at least, there are some pretty systemic issues in Commonwealth IT that need to be addressed. We certainly do not need any major e-Health initiatives to be undertaken by the Commonwealth directly. There needs to be careful consideration as to how e-Health is to be provisioned going forward to ensure these deficiencies are fully and safely addressed to prevent project failure and avoid waste of scarce funds.

Fourth we have:

Identity fraud the focus of week-long spotlight

National Identity Fraud Awareness Week kicks off: Aussie males the most gullible when it comes to scams, but professional women are the number one target.

Andrew Hendry 13/10/2008 07:51:00

National Identity Fraud Awareness Week opened today and will continue until the end of the week in a bid to raise awareness of identity theft and fraud, as well as to educate businesses and the general public on taking care when distributing personal information either physically or online.

A Web site promoting the campaign cites Australian Bureau of Statistics research indicating that identity fraud has become the fastest growing crime in Australia.

But while May’s Unisys Security Index survey found identity fraud to be the greatest concern for Australians -- topping terrorism and the meeting of financial obligations -- 70 percent of us throw out enough personal information like credit card statements and bills to put ourselves at risk of identity theft.

ABS research conducted between July and December 2007 and released this June found that almost half a million Australians had fallen victim to ID fraud in the 12 months preceding the research, of which over three-quarters was credit card fraud, totalling close to $1 billion in losses. The Australian Federal Police peg the annual cost of identity fraud at up to $4 billion.

According to the ABS, 54 percent of credit card fraud victims were male and 46 percent female, with an average loss of $2,156 per person. The 25 to 34 years age group had the highest number of victims, while professional women in their 20s and 30s were the most common targets.

Much more here including tips on how to save yourself:


This article is a worry from an e-Health perspective as it makes it clear many people are not security conscious with respect to technology and don’t really know how to protect important information – like the access control to their bank account! Trust in e-Health records will struggle until we can evolve and develop a better educated population on these matters I fear.

Fifth we have:

IT's biggest project failures & what they teach us

Think your project's off track and over budget? Learn a lesson or two from the tech sector's most infamous project flameouts.

Jake Widman (Computerworld) 10 October, 2008 10:03:00

Every year, the Improbable Research organization hands out Ig Nobel prizes to research projects that "first make people laugh, and then make them think."

For example, this year's Ig Nobel winners, announced last week, include a prize in nutrition to researchers who electronically modified the sound of a potato chip to make it appear crisper and fresher than it really is and a biology prize to researchers who determined that fleas that live on a dog jump higher than fleas that live on a cat. Last year, a team won for studying how sheets become wrinkled.

That got us thinking: Though the Ig Nobels haven't given many awards to information technology, the history of information technology is littered with projects that have made people laugh -- if you're the type to find humor in other people's expensive failures. But have they made us think? Maybe not so much. "IT projects have terrible track records. I just don't get why people don't learn," says Mark Kozak-Holland, author of Titanic Lessons for IT Projects (that's Titanic as in the ship, by the way).

When you look at the reasons for project failure, "it's like a top 10 list that just repeats itself over and over again," says Holland, who is also a senior business architect and consultant with HP Services. Feature creep? Insufficient training? Overlooking essential stakeholders? They're all on the list -- time and time again.

A popular management concept these days is "failing forward" -- the idea that it's OK to fail so long as you learn from your failures. In the spirit of that motto and of the Ig Nobel awards, Computerworld presents 11 IT projects that may have "failed" -- in some cases, failed spectacularly -- but from which the people involved were able to draw useful lessons.

You'll notice that many of them are government projects. That's not necessarily because government fails more often than the private sector, but because regulations and oversight make it harder for governments to cover up their mistakes. Private enterprise, on the other hand, is a bit better at making sure fewer people know of its failures.

So here, in chronological order, are Computerworld's favorite IT boondoggles, our own Ig Nobels. Feel free to laugh at them -- but try and learn something too.

A great deal more here:


This article is a ripper for the collectors of ‘what not to do lessons’. A mandatory read!

Last we have the slightly more technical article for the week:

Gartner names 10 strategic technologies for 2009

Cloud computing and business intelligence high on the priority list for 2009.

Brad Reed (Network World) 15/10/2008 13:00:00

Research firm Gartner has revealed its list of the 10 most important strategic technologies for 2009, which includes cloud computing and business intelligence.

The majority of the technologies on this year's strategic technologies list are the same as the ones included on last year's list, such as green IT, mashups, Web-oriented architecture and unified communications. Among the most notable additions this year is cloud computing, which Gartner has in the past defined as "a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered 'as a service' to external customers using Internet technologies."

In other words, cloud computing is a way for companies to have key services delivered to them through the Internet rather than through an in-house data center. Gartner says that the biggest benefits of cloud computing are its "built-in elasticity and scalability, which not only reduce barriers to entry, but also enable these companies to grow quickly."

More here:


The article goes on to identify three other additions to the list. Worth keeping an eye on for those who have a role in planning future Health IT initiatives to make sure the most relevant technologies are considered.

More next week.


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