Again, in the last week, I have come across a few news items which are worth passing on.
First we have:
HealthBeyond Australia's first e-health consumer expo will be held in Melbourne on May 7 for health professionals to experience the revolution of technology in the management of chronic illness and the maintenance of good health. The event is being staged by the Health informatics Society of Australia (HISA), in association with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).
Log on to www.healthbeyond.org.au and click on the “Shout Here” button to share your experiences and register for the day.
It is important that this meeting is a success and that NEHTA takes away an improved understanding of consumer needs in these very relevant areas. Consider letting appropriate friends and associates know about it please.
Second we have:
Karen Dearne | March 03, 2009
THE Federal Court of Australia has brought the nation's legal system into the computer age, with new e-discovery rules requiring all electronic documents and emails to be produced and exchanged electronically, preferably in their original formats.
An updated Practice Note (the use of technology in the management of discovery and the conduct of litigation) essentially spells an end to voluminous paper files in commercial cases and could slash millions of dollars from litigation bills.
Issued by Chief Justice Black after 19 months of consultation, the e-discovery rules aim to improve efficiencies and help contain costs at a time when protracted litigation between corporate players and inquiries into financial misconduct have placed extreme pressure on court resources.
However, hopes that the Federal Court Practice Note would underpin more uniform e-discovery procedures nationwide have been torpedoed by the NSW Supreme Court, which also handles a large volume of commercial litigation.
NSW Chief Justice Jim Spigelman issued a Practice Note on the Use of Technology that came into effect in August last year.
Lawyer and computer forensics expert Seamus Byrne said the NSW rules were announced without warning to the legal profession. "The NSW Practice Note is a step in the right direction," Mr Byrne said.
"However, the Federal note is much more comprehensive and from the industry perspective it's had the benefit of input from a much larger group of people.
This looks like an important change. It is not clear just what impact such a note will have on electronic patient records, but it is hard to imagine they are exempt as paper health records are certainly covered by the usual discovery processes.
The note and links is found here:
Third we have:
March 6, 2009 - 8:35AM
Google is letting patients share electronic medical records with loved ones or care providers who may be needed to help in emergencies.
The decision to let people selectively allow others to glimpse medical profiles results from feedback it has gotten since Google Health medical records service was launched in May 2008.
"One issue we hear regularly is that people want help coordinating their care and the care of loved ones," Google product manager Sameer Samat said in a message posted at the California firm's website.
"They want the ability to share their medical records and personal health information with trusted family members, friends, and doctors in their care network."
Google Health now has a "share this profile" feature that permits chosen people to view, but not alter, online medical records.
"A few years ago, my father suffered a minor heart attack and was sent to the emergency room," Samat wrote.
"I arrived on the scene in a panic, and was asked what medications he was taking. I had no clue. If my father had a Google Health account, and had shared his profile with me, I would have been up-to-date on his current medications."
Renewable links to health records are uniquely tailored to each recipient and automatically expire after 30 days, according to Google.
I wonder when we will have DoHA or NEHTA decide it would make sense to have Medicare Australia discuss with Google (or Microsoft or a local provider) how their information can be effectively integrated into the selected PHR and then even sponsor GPs to contribute a basic patient ‘front sheet’ to create a basic national EHR system.
It has a lot to like! (relatively cheap, totally voluntary, professional levels of security, privacy concern friendly and could be done in only 2-3 years).
Sadly this might take some vision, which for now does not really exist, as far as I can tell.
Fourth we have:
06 March 2009 04:01 PM
Health ministers from around the country said yesterday that more consultation on privacy protections was necessary before any implementation of national individual health identification records could proceed.
The National E-health Transition Authority has received a mandate from the Council of Australian Governments to develop an individual health identifier for patients and providers with Medicare.
The identifiers will ease the flow of patient information throughout the health system, reducing the need to take histories twice, and helping health professionals gain a better overall view of patients' health.
Although there is agreement that such an identifier needs to be developed, there are privacy issues about the access to the information which need to be tackled. Legislation will also have to be passed before identifiers can become a reality.
At a conference of Australian health ministers held yesterday, the ministers discussed the individual health identifiers, saying that it was "essential" that privacy arrangements meet community expectations, balancing the need to protect personal details with the ability to achieve healthcare benefits through sharing of information.
Good to see the technical press picking up on the issue I flagged last week on the blog. This is a problem that needs to be addressed not ignored in the hope it will go away!
Fifth we have:
by Jared Reed
Australia’s first electronic prescribing program will be launched this year, says GP software vendor Best Practice.
In mid-2009 the company will offer the eRx Script Exchange program that allows GPs to send prescriptions electronically through a secure gateway to be retrieved at a patient’s pharmacy of choice.
Patients, who need to opt in to the system, will be given a script which includes a barcode. Using the barcode the pharmacy will access an e-script from a central database. GPs will be able to alter details of the prescription without the need to issue a new script.
Best Practice CEO Dr Frank Pyefinch says a goal for the project was to see the eventual removal of paper in the process, whereby patients would not need to bring a printed barcode or script to access their meds.
He says GP software vendors will make a small revenue per script entered into the system.
The eRx Script Exchange will also be compatible with other prescribing software programs, provided each program makes necessary alterations.
This is the inevitable outcome of government inactivity. We get a closed private e-prescribing system which will wind up costing more than it might has as it is being operated for profit. I don’t like this initiative one little bit – but given the bureaucratic slowness and incompetence presently surrounding the e-health space in OZ this might just be the best of a bad lot. Very sad indeed.
Sixth we have:
March 02, 2009 12:01am
- Doctors SMS disease alerts to people
- Warns that their health may be in danger
- "Quick method but has pitfalls"
IT'S a text message nobody wants to receive.
But doctors at an Australian hospital say an SMS is the best way of alerting people who may have come into contact with a deadly infectious disease.
In a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia yesterday, doctors from Sydney's South West Public Health Unit revealed they sent a group text message to friends of an 18-year-old woman diagnosed with meningococcal disease.
The text, to 14 friends who had visited a bar with the patient hours before she was admitted to hospital in July last year, read: "Message from public health. A friend of yours has meningococcal disease. Watch out for symptoms" and gave a phone number and web address of a fact sheet.
Medical officer Johanne Cochrane said in the letter the SMS warning was a success.
"SMS communication appeared highly acceptable to these young people and provided useful information," Ms Cochrane said.
Of those contacted, all were happy to receive the SMS, and nine called up the fact sheet.
Given the ubiquity of mobile phones in the target age group this seems like a smart idea. There are, of course, issues around confirming receipt of the message for all that needed to be alerted – given the nature of the risk – and the speed with which it can kill. I think I might have had an extra line – ‘let all your friends know and make sure they are OK’!
Last a slightly more technical article:
Unleash the power of Word 2007 with these quick tips
Logan Kugler 02/03/2009 09:40:00
Microsoft's Word has always been an impressively powerful piece of software, with dozens, if not hundreds, of features most people never knew existed. The new "Ribbon" interface in Word 2007 attempts to make some of those features easier to find and use, but there are still a lot of really handy features that you may not even know to look for.
Here are six quick things you can do with Word 2007 that will save you oodles of time. Once you give them a try, you'll never want to do without them.
(Editor's note: Some of these tips work in earlier versions of Word. We've noted where that's the case, along with the variations in the steps you'll need.)
One of two of these ideas are really useful – worth a browse!
More next week.