Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Useful and Interesting Health IT News from the Last Week – 31/05/2009.

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

First we have:

Sharing generation faces Australia Card 3.0

By Nate Cochrane

9 May 2009 05:59AM

Tags: australia | card | access | card | aulich | biometrics | australia | facebook

The Facebook generation, unbowed by their parents' sense of privacy propriety, is fast-tracking a global "Australia Card", a Sydney biometrics conference heard yesterday.

Speaking at the Biometrics Institute 10th annual conference yesterday, former Tasmanian Labor senator Terry Aulich said he was "astonished" at the variation in inter-generational attitudes to privacy exhibited by subjects in his research.

Australian governments of both stripes have tried unsuccessfully to mandate a single identification card, first under Labor in 1985 and then under the Coalition 10 years later, but both attempts fell foul of public opinion and the proposals' inherent complexity.

But Aulich said that could all change as a generation weaned on sharing the most intimate aspects of their lives with random strangers online came into their majority.

"There is a new generation that is much more open to invasive technology," he told iTnews. "These people have grown up in an era where people accept invasions of privacy, sometimes they welcome it. They are replacing people, now in their 50s and 70s, that were very protective of privacy."

Aulich said the Federal Government could "get up an Australian Card now - if they were smart and attached benefits to it, and if we had a new Privacy Act".

Aulich said that benefits such as greater speed to access information and convenience would need to be emphasised to win over public support.

Forcing citizens to pay for their ID cards or an inability of card authorities to safeguard data would derail any attempt to re-introduce a national identity scheme.

"What will happen is as the older generation move [on] the younger generation will accept what today would be seen as an invasion of privacy [in] a national identification system," he said.

"But that could be set back at any time in the decision-making process by some absolute stuff ups the way government or companies are maintaining and protecting data."

Lots More here:


This is an interesting article that makes at least two points I agree with. First getting decent privacy legislation in place before acting on either Access Cards or e-Health is critical. Second major data leaks to damage confidence and so incremental change is almost certainly the only way to go. Additionally any major public project, if it is to succeed, really does have to convince the public of the benefits that will accrue!

Second we have HCN seemingly under a bit of additional fire.

HCN denies software issues for GPs

by Louise Durack

Health Care Network (HCN) has hit back at claims that glitches in its software are causing GPs to lose money.

Michael Travaglione, a practice owner from Perth, has previously told 6minutes that GPs have been missing out on around $1,000 per year as a result of a software defect within PracSoft affecting GP senior concession card holders.

He claimed HCN has never produced a category within the software for seniors, which would enable GPs to auto-generate bulk-bill concession item numbers as it does for pensioners, veterans, health care card holders and children under 16.

This, he said, had been amounting to a loss of $5.55 per senior over the past three years, despite repeated requests to rectify the situation.

More here:


as well as this.

GP outrage over HCN fees

by Louise Durack

The Health Communication Network (HCN) has been criticised by GPs for its recent price hikes of its software fees and a new payment system requiring all doctors to pay a full-time licence fee.

The complaints follow a move by HCN last month which saw the software maker remove advertising from its practice software Medical Director, as a result of GP pressure and a ruling by Medicines Australia.

However 6minutes has received complaints from GPs saying that HCN is disadvantaging practices which use overseas doctors who may only be allowed to work very limited ‘after hours’ but who will still need to be paid for.

Perth doctor Dr Michael Travaglione, employs three doctors who fall into this category and told 6minutes that he is ‘very annoyed’ about the latest increases.

More here:


It seems the removal of the drug advertisements and the apparent price rises has made the natives a little restless. HCN will need to be careful if it to keep its market share.

Third we have:

Ruling to haunt watchdog

Karen Dearne | May 26, 2009

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to dismiss concerns about a leading GP software package automatically extracting prescription records has come back to bite federal Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis.

The Australian Privacy Foundation last week asked Ms Curtis to investigate two potential breaches in relation to the sale or re-use of medical records for drug marketing purposes, without patients' knowledge or consent.

In 2005, Ms Curtis rejected complaints that doctors were being paid to supply patient records under a deal with a leading software supplier and drug firms, on the grounds that the information had been sufficiently "de-identified".

At the time, health and privacy advocates said the decision gave a green light to the sale of patient data, while claims individuals could not be re-identified were not confirmed through independent testing.

The latest concerns relate to courtroom revelations that pharmaceutical giant Merck paid specialist nurses $500,000 to trawl through patient records for possible candidates for the firm's anti-arthritis drug Vioxx, now the subject of a class action in the Federal Court in Melbourne.



This is the continuing follow-up of the issue raised here:


Fourth we have:

Beating swine flu

Karen Dearne | May 26, 2009

LEADING medical researchers say lives will be saved if information on suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu is immediately available through a national e-health system.

"One of the keys to protecting the public is finding out who is sick, who is healthy, who has died, and where they live, work, shop or go to school," director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Fiona Stanley, said.

"We also need to know who has been admitted to hospital, how long they've stayed and what medicines have been prescribed by which pharmacies. This would allow for efficient monitoring and a co-ordinated response to the pandemic. Lives would most certainly be saved."

Professor Stanley, and visiting professor at the University of Western Australia and director of the Indiana University Centre for Bioethics Eric Meslin, said Australia had "every reason to fast-track" e-health, and not just because of swine flu.

Full article here:


Yet another reason to get on with e-Health nationwide! It is good to see serious heavy hitters like Prof. Fiona Stanley getting on side publicly like this!

Fifth we have:

Knowing your enemy

  • May 28, 2009

FOUR hundred arachnophobes have braved the first phase of a study that involves graded exposure to images of spiders. Developed by researchers at the University of Tasmania, Feardrop.com is an online exposure therapy program for people with specific phobias.

People rate their anxiety level before viewing the image and then at specific points while viewing the image. The aim is to get people used to the spider image, that is, decrease their anxiety levels as the exposure proceeds.

If their anxiety is low at the end of the exposure, they can proceed to the next, more fearful, stage. "Indications are that people develop habituation responses quickly, within a few minutes of doing an online intervention," says Professor Ken Kirkby, the head of psychiatry at the University of Tasmania. "Generally people don't experience excessively high levels of anxiety online, providing the images are chosen appropriately."

Much more here:


Good to see the spread of adoption of e-Health in the mental health domain where there is good evidence it can help.

Sixth we have:

E-health conspicuously absent from Budget funding: experts

Elizabeth McIntosh - Friday, 29 May 2009

EXPERTS are pinning their hopes for progressing the e-health agenda on the release of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) report due out in June, following the conspicuous absence of e-health from the latest federal Budget.


Health IT consultant Dr David More supported this call, noting that the unreleased government-commissioned Deloitte e-health strategy proposed a similar organisation, independent of government. But he said it wouldn’t get off the ground unless there was funding.

“Core funding for the strategy should have been in the Budget – even if they had to wait for the NHHRC to come out with their final report,” Dr More said.

RACGP president Dr Chris Mitchell said there needed to be investment in e-health, as despite the significant costs of establishing a system, it would result in significant savings.

More here (Registration required):


Good to see the professional press pushing the arguments made elsewhere and even here!

Seventh we have:

Patients' documents found in city street

  • Erik Jensen
  • May 25, 2009

THE Moran Health Care Group is under investigation for possible breaches of the Aged Care Act after hundreds of private documents were found dumped outside its offices in Sydney.

Ian Martin-Brown, a taxi driver from Lidcombe, found the documents on Bridge Street yesterday morning. There were 10 boxes on the footpath, he said, and about 10 more garbage bags of documents spilling into the gutter.

The documents - some of which police returned to Moran and some of which are understood to be with the City of Sydney - included property contracts, legal correspondence, wills, title deeds, staff details and patient information.

"There were payrolls, there were names, there were account names, bank account numbers," Mr Martin-Brown said.

"There were patient documents - everything you could imagine involved with aged care and hospitals. There were documents and receipts; some documents with respect to property; BSB numbers, account numbers; absolutely everything. It's just a complete legal minefield. It's just mind-blowing."

The Department of Health and Ageing, which regulates private nursing homes, would not say whether it would seize the documents.

More here:


Oops! Those paper records causing trouble again!

Eighth we have:

Cheap solution for security

Karen Dearne | May 26, 2009

A BRISBANE man has invented a simple, low-cost online authentication system that would allow banks to offer one-time passcode security to all their customers.

Internet database manager Matthew Walker has won a patent for PassWindows, which synchronises a part-pattern printed on a see-through card window with the rest of a unique pattern generated on the computer screen to display a numeric code.

Online users hold their card against the screen to reveal a randomly created six-digit number that securely authenticates their financial transactions.

Mr Walker said PassWindows did the same job as hardware tokens but for almost no cost, so banks could offer that level of security to all customers, rather than just their high-wealth or business clients.

"Everyone I've run this past says 'yes, technically it works, it's a lot better than relying on user passwords and it's infinitely cheaper than supplying and supporting electronic devices'," Mr Walker said.

More here:


On the face of it, this seems like a really clever idea. Could certainly have some e-Health applications as a cheaper ID token.

Lastly the slightly more technically orientated article for the week:

Users set to ditch tape for online storage

Not so, retorts Tandberg Data

Tom Jowitt (Techworld) 26/05/2009 08:23:00

Tags: tape, tandberg, storage backup, online storage, data loss

Users are set to ditch tape as a storage medium as one in 10 businesses have lost data following a failure of a tape backup system.

That's according to research published from business continuity specialist Connect. The survey of 151 UK IT managers and directors also found that three quarters of SMEs still use traditional backup tapes as the default option to store their data, but that nearly half (49 percent) of all companies expect to switch to an online backup service within the next 3 years.

The study also found that one in five have already switched away from traditional backup tapes, with 10 percent expected to shift across over the next 12 months.

Tapes have been used to store data since the 1960s, but Connect feels that tape as a backup method is "hugely vulnerable and problematic. It is not even cheaper than more reliable options," said the survey.

Mark MacGregor, CEO of Connect told Techworld that over the last 12 months his company had stopped recommending tape as standard for their clients, mostly down to the poor reliability of tapes for recovering data and the decline in costs for online backups.

"Until 18 months ago, our recommendation to our clients was that online backup was not speedy enough and was too expensive," he said. "Online backup was ok for small amounts of data, but over the last year or so, that equation has changed, as the price of online backup has come down and line speed has improved."

MacGregor said that the failure rates of tapes was not so much due to the technology itself, but rather with what people actually did with their tapes. "It is not failure of tapes per se, more failure of the process," he said. "Those process problems, combined with falling costs of online backup, or alternative methods, makes switching to online backup a no-brainer now. Obviously, there can be exceptions though."

More here:


There is no doubt this is a real trend – and is quite sensible as long as other media are used from to time (Tape, DVD etc) which can be stored off line and don’t need power. Of course, whatever is done it is vital to test backups regularly.

More next week.


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