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 | November 19, 2008
MEDICARE Australia wants medical specialists who have largely resisted online connectivity to come on board with Eclipse, its e-claiming system for hospitals.
The Electronic Claims Lodgement Information Processing Service Environment allows privately insured hospital patients to pay their doctors bill by lodging a single claim to both Medicare and their insurer.
It also gives the patient warning of any out-of-pocket expenses.
Only 40 per cent of medical specialists have computers and IT infrastructure to support online claiming, compared with over 90 per cent of GPs who use computers in their practices, and almost 100 per cent of pharmacists.
As an incentive, medical specialists in metropolitan areas will receive a one-off $750 payment to cover start-up costs and $1000 for those in rural and remote areas.
In addition, practices will receive an incentive payment of 18 cents every time a claim is sent electronically.
Medicare's executive general manager, business operations, Mark Jackson has been out selling the benefits of the organisation's shift from "cash to e-health" - mainly from improved real-time analysis and compliance.
"The next challenge lies in getting specialists who will be the key provider users of Eclipse into the electronic claiming and, hence, connectivity world," he said.
It is interesting to see that again Medicare is resorting to financial incentives to encourage e-Health adoption. It would be preferable if the benefits of the use of their systems were sufficient that they actually sold themselves to the non-users. Wishful thinking I guess.
Second we have:
Karen Dearne | November 18, 2008
IBA Health has invested $400 million in building its Lorenzo clinical information platform, and is aiming to make it a new standard for healthcare applications.
'By the time we've finished developing Lorenzo, we will probably have spent more than $600 million on it,' says IBA's Gary Cohen
Gary Cohen, executive chairman and chief executive of Australian-based IBA, launched Lorenzo Acute Care as a global product in Sydney last week.
"By the time we've finished developing Lorenzo, we will probably have spent more than $600 million on it," he said.
"This is more money than any country could afford to invest in developing health IT. Australia certainly couldn't afford to support a company investing that much money on its own.
"So building a global product has been very important and now we need to use it."
Mr Cohen said Lorenzo could be used to deliver national healthcare.
"That's where we should be focusing. It's nice to talk to the various state governments about what's happening in their health departments, and our people are doing that," Mr Cohen said.
"The bigger story is how we can connect up Australia, and we have something to say about that."
IBA is enunciating a pretty ambitious strategy here. It will be a year or two yet before the reality emerges – but if they succeed it could be quite exciting. I will be watching closely as they move forward. (The usually disclaimer that I have a few shares in IBA applies)
Third we have:
Privacy breaches are shaping as the new pandemic infecting business stability, reports Conrad Walters.
The lapses came at a rate of one a week: hundreds of credit card receipts from a Bondi Junction chemist are strewn across Mascot Oval; names and dates of birth for 3500 customers of a Sydney restaurant are inadvertently attached to a mass email; detailed financial records for Aussie Home Loans customers are dumped in an unsecured bin; and, most worrying, a Tax Office CD of documents about 3122 taxpayers vanishes after reaching a courier.
And those losses of personal information, all from last month, were the ones made public.
October, though, was not alone as a bad month. A recent survey by the computer security company Symantec found 79 per cent of Australian businesses know they have lost sensitive information about themselves or their customers.
The survey of nearly 200 businesses with more than 100 employees shows data loss is anything but rare. Forty per cent of companies that lost information acknowledged six to 20 losses in the previous year. Eight per cent admitted 100 or more instances. Data losses cost one industrial company $8 million.
What is going astray? Everything from customer and financial details to employee records and competitive intellectual property. The biggest causes: lost laptop computers and mobile phones, and human error. Lower on the list, but still statistically alarming, are corporate espionage, hacking and insider sabotage.
"What the survey results show is this is not hype," Craig Scroggie, regional managing director of Symantec, says. "This is a real and present challenge."
Certainly it will assist the bottom line for Symantec, a seller of software to monitor documents and protect data, but the risks to companies and consumers are enormous.
Australia does not require companies or government departments to reveal breaches of personal information to the people affected. It is not possible, therefore, to know precisely the number of stuff-ups and the number of people affected, but there are clues from overseas.
Much more here:
This is a useful summary of the current state of the globe in mislaying private sensitive data. The article correctly points out we need strong laws regarding notification of data loss to ensure people are confident all data custodians (including the custodians of health information) take their responsibility seriously.
Fourth we have:
RDNS preps for e-health with 3G
Darren Pauli 17/11/2008 09:51:00
The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) has connected its 1200 mobile staff on Telstra's Next G mobile network.
The RDNS provides nursing and healthcare across Melbourne and its northern suburbs to people in their homes and workplaces.
Some 1100 Fujitsu tablets are in use by staff and contractors to send patient reports back to a central repository and access the Medical Information Management Systems (MIMS) drug information database which assists with the drug administration.
RDNS information services general manager Ian Cash said the upgrade from 2G services to Telstra's 3G will allow the company to use more data intensive applications.
“We are everywhere in the field and you could never guarantee connectivity with GPRS and [the now defunct] CDMA," Cash said.
“We don't consider that we have an always-on network but we are confident we will have access within most homes.
“There has been a gradual growth in the number of transactions and the next step is to take advantage of new technology. Our use of mobile computing is built to make life easier for our nurses.”
Cash said the natural progression of mobile computing will extend the reach of RDNS into more remote areas.
I would be interested to see an evaluation of this investment in a couple of years to see the impact this planned step on the quality, speed and safety of the care delivered by the RDNS.
Fifth we have:
November 17, 2008
AUSTRALIA's bionic ear experts may hold the key to perfecting a technique that will allow paraplegics to walk again.
A Canadian researcher has been working for 15 years on bionic implants that use electrical signals to command "lifeless" limbs to stand and walk.
Dr Vivian Mushahwar of the University of Alberta, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday, said her work had been proved in animals and she was about three years from the first human trials.
But there remains a significant hurdle before it becomes widely available. A web of electrodes finer than a human hair must be placed exactly in the "spinal control centre" in the small of the back.
We have often heard of these sort advances – I wonder how close workable systems in this area actually are? Given the disability caused by spinal injuries the sooner the better.
Last we have the slightly more technical article for the week:
November 20, 2008
Standards development organization Health Level Seven has released four new guides for implementing its Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) in specific settings.
The new implementation guides cover diagnostic imaging, consultations, quality reporting and home health monitoring. The home health guide is available for downloading now at www.hl7.org/dstucomments/index.cfm. The other three guides should be ready by December.
Full article here:
It is good to see work continuing in these areas. What is not clear to me is just where the CDA approach fits in the plans NEHTA has in this area. As far as I can tell NEHTA is not following the HL7 CDA direction, in terms of development of implementation guides rather than publishing very detailed specifications, consistently which is a pity I feel.
See here for the latest I have seen from NEHTA.
More next week.