Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - 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."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 10-03-2010.

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. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or payment.

General Comment:

There is little doubt the big news of the week is the release of the Rudd Plan for the Australian Health System.

Lots of information is found here:


and here:


Having now considered the coverage and the document it seems to me that while what is proposed is still unacceptably vague and incomplete and that substantial implementation risks exist at both the political level ( a few states are not seeming all that convinced at present) and actual practical issues that are not easily addressed.

I am concerned this may turn out to be a real mess, but will hold off on any formed view until we see all the details.

Second the Senate Enquiry on the HI Service has been great fun and the Senate Hansard make very interesting reading.

Go here to read the program and transcripts:




Rudd's first steps to a healthier network

THE final report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission last year was a blueprint for substantial reform of the health system that is long overdue and vital if we are to meet healthcare needs.

The government's response needs to be big, bold and far-reaching. It has to spark and re-energise. It has to call to action. Kevin Rudd's National Health and Hospitals Network announcement this week meets those expectations.

It reflects very strongly the NHHRC's recommendations for public hospitals funding. Our recommendations were a product of hundreds of consultations across the country with front-line health workers and people who use the health system. The policy is also a product of the concerns raised in the 100 or so consultations conducted by the government, several of which I attended.



Thousands receive bank statements of strangers


March 7, 2010

SYDNEY teacher Lisa Grando does not know the person whose St George Bank statement she received last week. However, she knows they have a taste for Nando's, KFC and McDonald's, and frequent the Blacktown Workers Club.

She knows who employs them and how much they earn. She can also see they are getting regular payments from Centrelink and she was privy to other details. Mrs Grando was one of 42,000 St George Bank customers who were inadvertently sent incorrect statements last week.



Mind-reading computers could 'save your life'

March 5, 2010 - 9:41AM

Devices allowing people to write letters or play pinball using just the power of their brains have become a major draw at the world's biggest high-tech fair.

Huge crowds at the CeBIT fair gathered round a man sitting at a pinball table, wearing a cap covered in electrodes attached to his head, who controlled the flippers with great proficiency without using hands.



Software test facility launched for HI Service

1 March 2010. A new software testing environment for the national Healthcare Identifier Service was officially launched today.

The facility is managed by Medicare Australia, which has been contracted by NEHTA to operate the HI Service for an initial two year period.

It will assist early adopters in the commercial software market to build and test connection with the national HI Service ahead of legislation, currently before Federal Parliament, that will allow the service to operate.



Review of health technology assessment in Australia

Read the full text

HTML Review of health technology assessment in Australia

03 March 2010This report recommends improvements in the way new health technologies, procedures and services are assessed for public and private funding in Australia.



Medicare privacy breaches 'only the beginning'

By Carly Laird for PM

Updated Tue Mar 2, 2010 9:56pm AEDT

Revelations that Medicare employees are being investigated for spying on customers' personal information have renewed fears from privacy advocates that healthcare staff cannot be trusted.

As the Federal Government works to bring in a national identity scheme for patients, around 400 cases have emerged of unauthorised snooping on people's private records over the past four years.

Medicare says it has implemented privacy controls and that the number of cases of snooping has been getting smaller, however it is not known who or how far the information was allowed to spread.

The agency has given few details of how the snooping was allowed to occur and no one from Medicare was available to speak to PM this afternoon.



Many Germans happy to shoulder chips

March 3, 2010

HANOVER: It sounds like something from a science-fiction film, but one in four Germans would be happy to have a microchip implanted in their body if they derived benefits from it.

The survey, conducted by the German IT industry lobby group BITKOM, was intended to show how the division between real life and the virtual world is increasingly shrinking.

In all, 23 per cent of about 1000 respondents said they would be prepared to have a chip inserted under their skin ''for certain benefits''.



State's computers put a $40m byte on tax dollar


March 3, 2010

THE Brumby government's poor management of the state's computers is wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year and causing greenhouse gases to be spewed out unnecessarily, according to its own technology experts.

A confidential report leaked to The Age warns that the many separate public service IT systems waste up to $40 million a year, producing ''high levels of unnecessary duplication, complexity and cost … and the true cost … is not understood or managed''.

The report reveals that the state's IT sector soaks up $1.65 billion a year, or 4-5 per cent of the state's entire budget, and says that for more than seven years the government has been unable to merge its poorly connected information systems.

Stamped ''Cabinet-in-confidence'', the report says $16 million could be saved by reducing the number of separate government computer banks.



Dutch hospital deploys Lorenzo R3.5

01 Mar 2010

ISoft has completed the implementation of Lorenzo 3.5 across all surgical departments at St Jansdal Hospital in the Netherlands.

The hospital went live with the latest release of the system last week following an 19 month implementation project to become the first Lorenzo site in the Netherlands.

The system, which is referred to as “Lorenzo clinicals” is similar to the Lorenzo Regional Care system being implemented in the UK under the National Programme for IT but is not built to the specifications.

The release provides the hospital with the functionality for patient management, results reporting, requesting and advanced clinical data capture for 96 nurses and ten surgeons.



iSoft was "not willing" to give up Lorenzo rights in CSC talks

Gary Cohen, CEO of iSoft, shines a light (below) on iSoft's negotiations with CSC in December 2009.

CSC has contracts worth about £3bn with NHS Connecting for Health and the Department of Health to deliver systems to the NHS as part of the NHS IT scheme, NPfIT.

CSC's main subcontractor is iSoft whose delayed NPfIT Lorenzo electronic patient record system is due to be installed at NHS trusts across England, outside of the London area and the south.

In December 2009, iSoft re-negotiated its contract with CSC.



Lumetra PSO Joins Forces With iSOFT Solutions

Delivering expertise with incident management software and healthcare quality and safety services to help reduce costs and risks.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Lumetra Patient Safety Organization (LPSO), a federally listed component PSO, announced today a strategic partnership with Australia's iSOFT Group Limited (iSOFT), a world leader in health information technology, including incident management software. Under the agreement, Lumetra PSO will use, distribute and support iSOFT's AIMS incident management software to provide comprehensive solutions for healthcare providers and Patient Safety Organizations who want to reduce the complexity and cost of their patient safety and risk management programs.

In making the announcement, the CEO of Lumetra Healthcare Solutions, Linda M. Sawyer, Ph.D., RN, stated, "With our software and services approach to improving patient safety, Lumetra PSO offers reporting of data, analysis of issues and the formulation of corrective action plans that meet the needs of healthcare organizations and their providers in reducing costs incurred by adverse events. The combination of our world-class service with iSOFT's AIMS software will provide unparalleled solutions for organizations committed to improving their patient safety efforts."



iSOFT takes on US market following acquisition

Healthcare solutions provider, iSOFT, is to enter the US market, announcing the move at this week’s HIMSS health IT conference in Atlanta and revealing what it says is a suite of “innovative solutions” which it will initially offer in the American market.

iSOFT, which is based in the UK, became part of the Australian-based IBA Health Group following a merger in October 2007, and the company now claims to be the largest healthcare information technology company outside the US.



Govt refers Healthcare Identifiers Bill to Senate Standing Committee

Greater input on individual healthcare indentifiers (IHI) sought

The Federal Government has referred its the Healthcare Identifiers Bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs in an effort to gain greater input on the legislation from the Australian community.

The Bill allows for a unique 16 digit number to be created for every health care provider and every Australian resident enrolled in the Medicare Australia or Department of Veterans' Affairs programs.



Telstra 'very concerned' about NBN legislation

March 2, 2010 - 10:04AM

Draft laws for the government’s national broadband network company NBN Co could create a retailer rather than a wholesale network provider, Telstra says.

The legislation states NBN Co is to be a wholesale-only company but it gives the communications minister significant powers of discretion to allow it to conduct retail services.

In a letter to shareholders today, Telstra said the draft legislation had for the first time raised the prospect of NBN Co becoming a government-funded retailer, not just a wholesale network provider.



Medicare privacy breaches shake heathcare identifier legislation

REVELATIONS that Medicare Australia has investigated 1058 employees for possible unauthorised access to client records in the past three years may rock a Senate inquiry into the controversial Healthcare Identifiers Bill.

The bill has been dogged by concerns over patient privacy raised by consumer health, privacy and technology advocates.

Australian IT uncovered evidence that 948 staff out of a total 5887 employees were being tracked via an Unauthorised Access database as at June 30, 2009 for apparently snooping among client files without a valid reason.



Clinical-quality registries: their role in quality improvement

John J McNeil, Sue M Evans, Niall P Johnson and Peter A Cameron

MJA 2010; 192 (5): 244-245

Registries can provide sound data needed by clinicians and organisations to improve patient safety and quality of care

In June 2009, the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission released its report proposing an agenda to transform the Australian health system.1 A critical element of this agenda is improved monitoring of service delivery and outcomes of care.

Clinical-quality registries are an important development in monitoring and benchmarking quality of clinical care. Registries systematically and uniformly collect information from people who undergo a procedure, are diagnosed with a disease or use a health care resource. They are particularly appropriate for monitoring and benchmarking processes and outcomes of care where there is known variation and where poor performance results in high additional cost (eg, renal transplantation) or poor quality of life. Before outcomes are benchmarked, data must be statistically adjusted to isolate quality of care from prognostic factors that are beyond the influence of clinicians. Variables such as age and clinical comorbidities are typically included in risk-adjustment models.

Note: Access only on subscription etc.



Italy risks internet Stone Age with trial of Google executives


March 1, 2010

Distracted while thinking how to begin this column, I clicked on an email from a friend. She had sent me a YouTube video in which a tidy cylindrical shape on a shoulder strap unrolled to become a computer.

Almost every day, someone sends a YouTube clip or invites me to join them in Facebook or LinkedIn or something called Friendster.

When trying to find a way to contact a possible source last week, I Googled him and found he had Twitter but no listed phone number or email address. Maybe I should drop the curmudgeonly attitude and sign up myself.



Sorry Lara, we have no right to privacy


March 6, 2010

SO LARA Bingle, famous for her appearance in the 2006 Tourism Australia campaign ''So where the bloody hell are you?'' plans to sue footballer Brendan Fevola for disseminating a nude photo of her taken in the shower several years ago. Public comment shows little sympathy for her plight and even less appreciation of the legal and ethical issues involved, which is not surprising as Australia lags behind the rest of the world in dealing with the multiple offences made possible by modern visual technology.

Max Markson, Bingle's manager, explained that her lawyers had decided to pursue Fevola for defamation, misuse of her image and breach of privacy. But only the first of these is recognised by Australian courts. Most people would, perhaps, be surprised to learn that there is no ''right to privacy'' in Australia, although the general idea of ''privacy'' is protected by a handful of other laws, including trespass, nuisance, breach of confidence, stalking, defamation and assault. We have a Privacy Commissioner, but as that office oversees only the compliance of organisations with specific regulatory regimes, it's not much help to Bingle.




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