Sunday, October 18, 2009

Useful and Interesting Health IT News from the Last Week – 18/10/2009.

The Australian E-Health Press provided a good serve this week. It included these:

First we have:

Healthcare Identifiers Service

The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) is being developed as a foundation service for e-health initiatives in Australia.

What is e-health?

Governments across Australia have committed to a national approach to e-health that will enable a safer, higher quality, more equitable and sustainable health system for all Australians.

E-health is set to improve the way healthcare is delivered by transforming the way information is used to plan, manage and deliver health services. It will achieve this through better use of information technology to facilitate electronic access, transmission and recording of health information.

Foundations, standards and solutions are being established to enable the secure electronic transfer of information such as referrals, test orders and results and prescriptions quickly and safely between healthcare providers.

In the future e-health will enable you to:

    • Have electronic access to your own information helping you to better manage and control your personal health outcomes
    • Support healthcare providers in their decision making by making your health information electronically available at the right place and right time
    • Feel assured that your personal health information is being managed in a secure, confidential and tightly controlled manner.

Developing the foundations for e-health

A key element in progressing e-health is to establish strong foundations – including a national identifiers scheme for individuals and providers and a robust privacy regime. The integration of security protections and privacy policies will continue to underpin how your health information is handled. The way in which this information is collected, used or disclosed is already regulated by privacy laws that are set out in legislation, including health records legislation and confidentiality obligations.

In 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a national approach to developing and implementing individual and healthcare provider identifiers as part of accelerating work on an electronic health records system to improve the safety of patients and improve efficiency for healthcare providers.

It is the foundations for e-health – healthcare identifiers and privacy protection - that will allow the healthcare system and consumers to realise the full benefits of using information technology to share health information more reliably and securely.

The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service)

A healthcare identifier is a unique number that will be assigned to each healthcare consumer, and to healthcare providers and organisations that provide health services.

The identifiers will be assigned and administered through the HI Service that is being established to undertake this task.

A key aim of healthcare identifiers is to ensure that individuals and providers can have confidence that the right health information is associated with the right individual at the point of care.

For further information on the HI Service see: Frequently Asked Questions

Lots more here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pacd-ehealth-consultation

We now have the 93 submissions regarding the proposed legislation available on web site.

They are found here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/eHealth-submissions

It will be interesting to see what comes of all this.

A FAQ on the service is found here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pacd-ehealth-consultation-faqs

Here we have some commentary:

Timing ‘unrealistic’ for rollout of e-health patient ID scheme

Elizabeth McIntosh - Friday, 16 October 2009

GPs face a long wait to see the promised rollout of an electronic patient identification system, an e-health expert claims, despite the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) saying that it will be in place by mid-2010.

Unique healthcare identification (UHI) numbers are a key plank of the e-health program, and are expected to improve patient safety by reliably identifying patients, providers and care facilities.

According to the recently released NEHTA strategic plan, UHI numbers will be rolled out to all stakeholders by July 2010.

However, health IT consultant Dr David More was sceptical of the 10-month time frame listed in the 46-page document, arguing it was unclear and unrealistic.

“Look at all the other [e-health initiatives] that they’ve attempted to introduce to help – even the ones that have been successful have taken years to be adopted,” Dr More said.

“2012 – that is reasonable – but pretending that 2009/10 is the year of delivery is not going to happen. They’re not going to have the majority of GPs signed up.”

More here (registration required):

http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/News/0,1734,5467,16200910.aspx

Reading the FAQ – where all the talk is of phased approaches from mid 2010 – it seems they agree.

Second we have:

How do they do IT? Mater Hospital

A look at Queensland's largest independent hospital group's IT strategy

Kathryn Edwards 13 October, 2009 13:21

Tags: Mater Hospital, e-health, Cisco

Seven hospitals, 1000 beds, 7000 staff, 9000 babies, 35,000 theatre cases and 90,000 emergency attendances is all in a year’s work at Queensland’s largest independent hospital group.

The Mater Hospital has embraced the role of IT in enabling healthcare through the development of a ‘Smart Hospital Strategy’. And it does this with funding of just two per cent of the hospital’s $750 million yearly budget.

The mammoth task of making it all work and migrating the hospital to a paperless environment with a fully-functioning electronic health records system falls to CIO Malcolm Thatcher, and Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) Dr Paul Devenish-Meares.

Thatcher, who has been with the hospital since 2004, explained the healthcare industry is episodic and careful consideration has to be given to any form of integration due to the complex division between wards.

“Because we have so many different services, we have over 240 enterprise systems hosted in our data centres, so we have to look at how we integrate those services – there’s no ERP for healthcare,” Thatcher said.

With up to 100,000 messages sent across the hospital’s system daily, an agile IT infrastructure with high availability is required to respond quickly to physicians' needs and provision services and systems in an efficient manner.

According to Thatcher, it’s literally the difference between life and death.

More here:

http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/321897/how_do_they_do_it_mater_hospital?eid=-255

This is good news to see how one Australian hospital group is making some considerable progress in their progress towards really effective use of Health IT.

Third we have:

$3b p.a. windfall for online fraudsters

TONY MOORE

October 12, 2009

Identity fraud is costing the Australian economy up to $3 billion a year, police experts will tell a national crime conference on the Gold Coast this morning.

And much of the rich pickings can be attributed to online's social networking in which internet users unwittingly provide information profiles the identity fraudsters dip into.

The 2009 National Identity Crime Symposium is being held at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast for the next three days, attended by Australian and world experts.

According to Queensland fraud and corporate crime squad police, criminals gather the information and new identities are built up over time.

"Criminals are now harvesting identity data and building profiles. The more information that can be obtained, the greater the criminal value," the corporate crime squad police report.

"Identity data stolen today may not manifest itself for years to come," they said.

"The 13-year-old child with today's online social networking is unwittingly providing the profile for exploitation in only five years time."

Detective Sergeant Steve Bignell of the Queensland Police Computer Crime Investigation Unit will tell the conference that 50 per cent of Australia's wireless internet networks are not safe from hackers.

"Incredibly, 50 per cent of our wireless internet networks are insecure, essentially giving the green light to criminals to access our computer and steal our identity and and financial data," Det Sgt Bignell said.

More here:

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/security/3b-pa-windfall-for-online-fraudsters-20091011-gsfs.html

The implications of all this for e-Health are pretty obvious.

Fourth we have:

Government to re-write Privacy Act

Karen Dearne | October 14, 2009

THE Rudd Government will rewrite the 21-year-old Privacy Act for the technology age, ending the fragmentation of state laws and streamlining the rules to apply to both private and public sectors.

Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig, has released the government's response to the first stage of the Australian Law Reform Commission's report, For Your Information, at a meeting of privacy professionals in Melbourne today.

"The Government will create a single framework that is simple, clear and easy to understand," he said. "We will provide a single set of privacy principles for the handling of personal information by government agencies and relevant private sector organisations.

"The Privacy Act will be amended to streamline the 11 information privacy principles that apply to government agencies, and the 10 national principles that apply to businesses and private sector organisations."

Senator Ludwig said the federal Privacy Commissioner's powers of investigation and compliance will be enhanced, and enforcement functions strengthened.

More here:

http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,26208775-15306,00.html?referrer=email&source=AIT_email_nl

All the details can be read about here:

http://www.pmc.gov.au/privacy/alrc.cfm

There are some significant issues yet to be addressed in the areas of identifiers and shared electronic records – and it seems these will be dealt with by specific legislation, which we saw some consultation on a few months ago. Links for all this are found in item 1.

Fifth we have:

Worries over new health e-records

BY ANITA MAGLICIC

14/10/2009 3:49:00 PM

THE State Government's computerised health recording system Healthelink has some parents concerned about privacy.

The pilot program, underway in western Sydney since in 2006 for under-16s and over-65s, adds medical information to a patient's database after visit to a GP.

The aim is allow health professionals ready access to the patient's complete medical history. Patients can also see the file on the internet.

Benefits include keeping track of medicines, allergies, immunisation and appointments.

But one mother was mortified to find that her 10-year-old daughter's details had been added without her knowledge after an emergency visit to Nepean Hospital.

She questioned why she was not asked in the first place and was sent a letter saying she only had 30 days to opt out of the system.

She is afraid that confidentiality is at risk from market researchers, paedophiles and identity thieves and that the system has potential for ``social control''.

She said that as parents would have access to their children's files pregnant girls might seek a ``backyard'' abortion so their parents did not discover their condition.

More here:

http://www.penrithstar.com.au/news/local/news/general/worries-over-new-health-erecords/1649598.aspx

Interesting concern has re-emerged. This trial is taking just an absurd amount of time. One really wonders just what the heavens is going on

Sixth we have:

Landmark patient safety study to track human cost of errors

Rosemarie Milsom - Friday, 16 October 2009

PATIENT safety will come under more scrutiny than ever before, with the launch of an $8.45 million study that will try to quantify the human and financial costs of inappropriate patient care across the health system.

The world-first CareTrack Australia study comes 15 years after the landmark Quality in Australian Health Care Study and is expected to help bridge the widely recognised gap in patient safety research.

Observers say there is no way of knowing if the safety of Australia’s health system has improved in the past 15 years.

Funded by the NHMRC, the study will draw on a random sample of 2500 Australians who will be interviewed about the care they received in the previous two years.

With the patients’ permission, researchers will also review medical records and interview healthcare practitioners, many of whom will be GPs.

More here:

http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/News/0,1734,5459,16200910.aspx

This sounds like a very important study. I hope the sample size is big enough to provide really useful information on the slightly less common errors.

Seventh we have:

E-health benefits don’t justify costs

Elizabeth McIntosh - Friday, 16 October 2009

A REPORT commissioned by the Government has conceded that the cost of signing up to the e-health agenda currently outweighs the benefits for most doctors, and calls for the introduction of new financial incentives.

The National E-Health Strategy – drawn up by Deloitte and handed to the Federal Government in September last year – lists the recommendation as one of a series on how to drive e-health forward.

Priority areas listed in the strategy include building the technical and legislative foundations of an e-health system, accelerating delivery of e-health solutions and encouraging healthcare providers to sign on.

“The costs of implementing e-health solutions are typically higher than the direct benefits that care providers will initially receive,” the authors state.

“Awareness and education campaigns should therefore be supported by an appropriate time-limited incentive program.”

More here (registration required):

http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/News/0,1734,5468,16200910.aspx

A bit of a cute headline. What the study says is that the costs for providers are higher than THEIR benefits. Overall e-Health offers total health system benefits which are very substantial indeed.

Eighth we have:

Commentary

6:59 AM, 12 Oct 2009

Isabelle Oderberg

Our cloud-computing opportunity

Unless Australia gets to grips with the true meaning of cloud computing and starts to create and implement the technology to make genuine offerings available to the domestic market, we will to miss out on an industry expected to be worth $US100 billion worldwide by 2013. But if we can service our own domestic market, we will also open up opportunities internationally – especially in Asia, where latency issues creep in for European and US service providers.

A recent study by IT services group Longhaus showed that Australia doesn’t have a single local provider offering a true cloud computing service. True cloud computing occurs, traditionally, when software is delivered as a service, with the common theme of being web-hosted and able to be scaled as required. The client takes the capacity or service they need, and is offered the ability to scale up or down as their business requires on an almost immediate basis.

Dr Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum’s research director for the public service, was previously deputy chief information officer for the Victorian government, responsible for e-government and IT strategy. He points out that not a single enterprise-scale cloud computing data centre exists in this country.

“It’s a highly competitive global business and if Australia’s not in there as much as anyone else, then they’ll be a net loser,” says Dr Hodgkinson. “If Australia can get in there harder and faster and sharper than anyone else, it may be a net winner. But Australia will have to fight just to not lose, rather than saying it’s a huge global market and Australia can dominate it because we’re so smart and intelligent.”

Last month, Verizon unveiled its newest data centre in Amsterdam. Clients can order a physical server over the internet and it will be installed by a robot at their data centre in Amsterdam in 120 minutes, ready to go.

A centre of this type in Australia would be large, constructed in a modular fashion, with the latest technologies incorporating features like virtualisation, so that the different assets in the data centre can be sliced and diced and used very flexibly. It can also be built out incrementally, again very flexibly, preferably by robots.

More here:

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Our-cloud-computing-opportunity-pd20091012-WQR36?OpenDocument&src=sph

I found this amazing – the robot part – and worrying that OZ is not involved as much as it should be.

Lastly for the week a more technical article:

The best free open source software for Mac OS X

If you live and work on a Mac, you'll want to try these 10 killer open source apps

Peter Wayner (InfoWorld) 14 October, 2009 21:04

Tags: open source, Mac OS X

Most Mac lovers love the Mac for the carefully wrought user interfaces and the crisp design, and never pay attention to the open source at the heart of the operating system. But underneath this beautiful facade is a heart built upon the rich - if often chaotic - world of open source software.

If you want to go through the pain and joy of building the OS yourself from scratch, you can even download the open source core of Mac OS X known as Darwin.

That's just the foundation. There are thousands of open source tools available for the Mac, some built for the Mac alone and others that are translations of software created for other operating systems. Some are aimed at a niche of programmers or scientists, but a good number are supremely useful tools for everyone.

This list includes just 10 of the most essential open source applications for a Mac, all precompiled, polished, and ready to run.

Downloading the software is just the beginning because many of them have yet another layer of openness hidden inside. Several of the applications have their own built-in environment for extending the software. Some accept plug-ins, some have pop-up windows for writing short extensions, and some have both - so you have even more options for customization.

In many cases, you're not just getting an open source tool; you're getting a range of options to add to that tool.

Fix your Mac with AppleJack Why is one of the simplest ways to mend a sluggish Mac is to "fix the permissions"? Who changes the permissions on my files? Shouldn't I know? Shouldn't I - what is that word? - give permission for the change? What good are permissions if some gremlin can just come in and change them without asking me?

One way to fix the permissions and perform a host of housekeeping chores is to run AppleJack, an open source tool that triggers many of the standard housekeeping scripts like disk repair and cache cleanup. The only limitation is that you need to run it in Single User mode (hit Command-S at startup).

AppleJack won't ask you how you want to set the permissions because, well, that would shatter the myth by letting you, the system owner, know what's going on. So don't worry your pretty little head. The permissions will all be fixed and your Mac will run faster and smoother. If you ask too many questions, you'll end up burning the time you've saved by making your Mac more efficient -- so don't.

More here:

http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/322150/best_free_open_source_software_mac_os_x?eid=-180

There are a lot of Mac users out there and this seemed interesting for them at least.

And to end with a laugh..

Web creator apologises for his strokes

Murad Ahmed in London | October 14, 2009

A LIGHT has been shone on one of the great mysteries of the internet. What is the point of the two forward slashes that sit directly in front of the "www" in every internet website address?

The answer, according to the British scientist who created the world wide web, is that there isn’t one.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who wrote the code that transformed a private computer network into the web two decades ago, has finally come clean about the about the infuriating // that internet surfers have cursed so frequently.

The physicist admitted that if he had his time again, he might have made a change, or more specifically, two.

“Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //”, he said, speaking at a symposium on the future of technology in Washington DC last week.

Sir Tim ruefully explained that when he started devising the network almost 30 years ago he could not have predicted the hassle that has been caused by his small error in thinking about the way a web address is written.

“Boy, now people on the radio are calling it ‘backslash backslash’,” Sir Tim told his audience, even though he knows they are, in fact, forward slashes.

More here:

http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,26209114-5013040,00.html

Love it!

David.

2 comments:

eral said...

So sorry to see the end of this blog for several reasons - first the lively and often amusing reaction to some of the absurdities quoted by people who should know better and also because of your input as to what should be happening here. Another reason is that I compile a newsletter for a health organisation and your blog gave me some leads to various publications that I might otherwise have missed. So now I am wondering if you use a news crawler to pick up these articles and if so which one. I have tried NewsCrawler without success and have been relying on setting up links to all the relevant publications. Even so, there are some I miss, especially those that only occasionally write about Health IT. Would love to hear how you find your sources.
E. Vaughan

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

Hi Eral,

I use a combination of site subscriptions and Google news alerts.

David.