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."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 25-01-2010

Here are a few I have come across this week.

Note: Each link is followed by a title and a paragraph or two. For the full article click on the link above title of the article.

General Comment:

It seems we have a run of quite bizarre press releases from NEHTA. This sudden rush to the media suggest to me that there is a rising tide of panic as it is recognised that it is only a few months until it becomes clear to all that NEHTA has over-promised and under-delivered.

The issue all of those who actually hope e-Health can be a genuine enabler of a higher quality, safer and more sustainable health system in OZ is how we can get from where we are now to where we need to be. NEHTA is a failed experiment and we need a new approach – perhaps as suggested in the Deloittes National E-Health Strategy.

Suggestions welcome!


Since writing this a day or so ago there have been some discussions in some private technical groups about the future for NEHTA. I was interested to note that among some I recognise as more than technically and clinically competent there is a rising feeling that we are watching an inevitable train-wreck and the time to really put an end to all this is fast approaching.

I really wonder what can be done, as it is now clear that NEHTA is actually hindering e-Health progress in a whole range of domains. It is producing products and services that are probably not fit for purpose and whose use seems unlikely. It is also likely, with the election looming, to have its deeply flawed HI Service legislation delayed – if not canned – and lastly is failing at even the basic role of achieving basic compliance with already agreed standards (HL7 V2 etc).

I wonder how long it will be before we see that staff bailing out as they recognise the ship they have joined has some serious leaks?

Sadly I guess the only response to the issues raised will be another deceptive press release!



Patient e-identifier a legal risk for GPs

Elizabeth McIntosh - Friday, 22 January 2010

GPs risk falling foul of strict new e-health regulations and face hefty fines and jail terms, say doctors’ groups who are seeking a review of proposed legislation governing the use of unique healthcare identifier (UHI) numbers.

Released late last year, the draft Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 outlines proposed regulations around access to and use of UHIs, which will eventually be allocated to every Australian.

The 16-digit UHIs are intended to enable secure electronic transfer of patient information between health professionals, and misuse of the numbers could see health professionals slapped with fines of up to $13,200 or two years’ imprisonment.


e-Health news sparks more criticism

Health identifiers to be assigned this year

A release promoting extra safeguards for national e-health identifier by its governing body has been labelled ‘chaff’ from a long-term industry advocate.

The Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 proposes that unique healthcare identifiers be in operation within 10 years, spearheaded by Medicare. Each Australian will have a unique record held in a single national database that can be accessed by different health professionals.

Pundits and analysts say e-health identifiers can improve communication between pharmacies and doctors and introduce transparency into patient medical histories, but many are concerned that the government is not paying dues to privacy concerns or addressing governance issues.

More and Associates consultant, Dr David More, said the governing National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has not provided enough information on record content and access and how health providers will be authenticated.



IHIs to protect identity in OZ

To keep records of well-known personalities people in OZ will soon be given fake identities. A 16-digit health ID number will be assigned to everyone to serve this purpose.

The federal agency responsible for the rollout yesterday stated that this identity would lessen the risks of exposure to someone’s information.

"There was a "need to provide special protection for vulnerable people such as well-known personalities and victims of domestic violence. Pseudonymisation is not intended to be a generally available option," a spokesperson for NEHTA said.



National E-Health Plan Plagued by Privacy Concerns

Submitted by Ketan Mukherjee on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 09:54

The Rudd Government has not been able to calm the fears and concerns that are currently plaguing people with regards to the patient privacy and data security risks which could be related to the planned Healthcare Identifiers routine. Consumer and industry groups are now warning that the draft Bill is very "flawed".

Concerns are that the proposed identifier system will end up allowing the linkage of "personally identifiable information across multiple networks", the proposed routine is based on an old technology and has been designed in order to support a countrywide e-health records system that might never be built.



Health ID cover-up for some exposes risks

By Renee Viellaris

January 20, 2010 12:00am

THE same people who claim a new national health identity system will be safe from fraud will be able to get fake ID to keep their own records secret.

While every Australian will soon be assigned a 16-digit health ID number, politicians and other "well-known personalities" will be able to take advantage of false identities to stop their records falling into the wrong hands.

The 16-digit health number is a "building block" towards national electronic health records, which will be eventually shared among health professionals.

The federal agency responsible for the rollout yesterday conceded the safeguards would be built into the system to "mitigate against the potential risks of exposure to this information". But access to the extra level of protection offered by the false IDs, known by the federally funded National E-Health Transaction Authority as "pseudonymisation", will not be widespread.



Hospitals 'resort to virtual wards'


January 20, 2010

VICTORIAN hospital staff are being run off their feet as they try to keep up with soaring demand, and hospitals are manipulating their data to make it look like they are performing better than they are, a junior doctor says.

Candice Simpson said her employer, Geelong Hospital, had been under extreme pressure in recent weeks and that hospitals were ''resorting to data manipulation and 'virtual wards' to make their numbers look good for the Government''.

''This situation isn't limited to Geelong Hospital only, it's endemic within the healthcare system, all hospitals around the state are doing the same thing. The problem lies with inadequate funding,'' she wrote in a letter published in the Geelong Advertiser on Friday.



Dead man winking: discovery offers hope to paralysis victims


January 20, 2010

SCIENTISTS have made the eyes of a dead person blink, in a world-first use of artificial muscle that could eventually benefit people with facial paralysis after a stroke or injury.

Researchers from the US used artificial muscles made from silicon that can expand and contract when activated by an electrical impulse, the same process that allows muscles to move in the body. The technology is known as electroactive polymer artificial muscle.

The researchers were able to make the eye blink by inserting a bundle of muscle fibres from another part of the face above the eye of a cadaver. The ends of the fibres were then connected to the artificial muscle which is powered by a battery and contracts and releases, moving the eyelid.



Government called on to step up leadership over e-health

Concerns over e-health issues arise as government pushes ahead with reforms

The Rudd Government needs to boost its leadership and learn from other countries implementing e-health strategies, according to a leading healthcare industry CIO.

Malcolm Thatcher, CIO of Queensland-based Mater Hospital, said the government needs to recognise and implement enablers for e-health, including the management of health identifiers, secure messaging, common terminologies, patient privacy and industry incentives and recognise that e-health is a complex challenge.

Thatcher also stressed the need for closer alignment among the state health bodies.


19 January 2010


E Health to Deliver a Better, More Efficient System

18 January 2010

Patient care will be improved and inefficiency in the health system will be cut by new e-health legislation soon to be introduced by the Rudd Government.

Today I visited Medicare Australia to see first hand how the secure e-health system currently being developed will work for patients and health care professionals.

The demonstration clearly showed how useful tools like electronic health records, medications-management systems and electronic clinical messaging (discharge, referrals, pathology, and prescriptions) will help improve delivery of health care – particularly when patients are being cared for by multiple providers.

The first step in creating an e-health system will come into effect in the middle of the year when unique healthcare identifiers are assigned to all health consumers as well as to health professionals and the organisations that provide health care in Australia.

Note: This is the official press release.



Expert claims health records can't be kept secret


January 19, 2010 12:01am

PRIVACY fears over Federal Government plans to put personal medical details in a national health database have been ignored and personal information put at risk.

An ex-employee of the National E-Health Transition Authority says he quit in disgust after his concerns about the system were ignored.

A privacy expert says hackers will target the "honeypot" of information and the Australian Privacy Foundation warns the draft legislation contains "defects" and ignores important privacy concerns.



Readers' Comments

Health records 'won't be secret'


January 19, 2010 12:01am

PRIVACY fears over Federal Government plans to put personal medical details in a national health database have been ignored and personal information put at risk.

An ex-employee of the National E-Health Transition Authority says he quit in disgust after his concerns about the system were ignored.

A privacy expert says hackers will target the "honeypot" of information and the Australian Privacy Foundation warns the draft legislation contains "defects" and ignores important privacy concerns.

Note: A huge number of comments follow!



Privacy concerns persist on national e-health plan

THE Rudd government has failed to calm fears over patient privacy and data security risks related to its proposed Healthcare Identifiers regime, with consumer and industry groups warning the draft Bill is flawed.

They say the proposed identifier system will enable linkage of personally identifiable information across multiple networks, it is based on old technology, and designed to support a nationwide e-health records system that may never be built.

Meanwhile, concerns about the cost of integrating new ID numbers into medical IT systems and the wisdom of excluding health funds -- which now offer members a range of better-health programs -- have emerged in responses to a tight consultation period over the holiday period.



E-scripts to be subsidised

PHARMACISTS will be funded 15 cents per script completed electronically - up to $36 million annually - while pharmacy software vendors will be compensated to incorporate e-prescribing features into dispensing systems.

The deal is part of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement, just negotiated between the Rudd Government and the Pharmacy Guild.

Doctors issue around 240 million scripts for patients each year.

No funding or upgrade subsidies have been announced for GPs and other medical practitioners who originate electronic scripts on their desktop systems.



Commuters using fake names to register for myki transport smartcard

  • Ashley Gardiner
  • From: Herald Sun
  • January 20, 2010 12:00AM

COMMUTERS are using fake names to register for myki.

One wit sent a myki card to the Herald Sun registered with the name Useless Mongrel.

It came with a letter from Transport Ticketing Authority chief executive Gary Thwaites that began: "Dear Useless, welcome to myki."

A card was also issued for Santos L Halper, a reference to The Simpsons episode when Bart applies for a credit card under the name of his dog, Santa's Little Helper.



Privacy fears growing as police tighten national grip


January 18, 2010

PRIVATE details of more and more people are finding their way on to databases used by the nation's police.

Information about licensed drivers and car owners are to be added to a network that already holds nearly 9 million police records.

Police say it makes their job faster and safer, but critics warn of the potential for the misuse of such mountains of information.



Bypassing Telstra proposed to cut NBN costs

WHILE Telstra and the government continue discussions on the possible sale of the telco's passive network assets into the $43 billion national broadband network, a British fibre-optic deployment specialist says it has the expertise to bypass the incumbent's network and deliver fibre for a fraction of the cost.

The government has been desperate to strike an agreement with Telstra on the telco's role in its ambitious broadband plans, but so far has only secured tentative terms that could result in it moving traffic from its copper network to the NBN.




by David Katzmaier

The recent flood of news about new 3D TVs, itself spurred by the hype surrounding the 3D release of Avatar, has raised a few questions. At CNET, one of our main jobs is to explain "new" technology, so this article, arranged in the tried-but-true manner of "Frequently Asked Questions," attempts to answer them as well as we can at this early stage.

We polled the six major TV makers who announced new 3D models--LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio--to help with some answers. Although many of the questions came back "we'll get back to you on that," we did learn something. With asking the manufacturers, and some judicious trolling of Web resources (special thanks to AVS forum and the friendly folks at EngadgetHD), we came up with the following. It will be updated and expanded as--inevitably--parts are proven wrong or we're actually given some hard information; however, in the meantime feel free to leave a comment. Or at least vote in the poll.


The next gadget to spend too much money on? I wonder what the e-Health applications might be? Remote surgery? As I understand it the current ‘surgical robots’ already use 3D techniques.



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