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 17, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 17-03-2010.

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 key e-Health event of the last week was the Senate Enquiry into the proposed Health Identifier Service. This has had extensive coverage on the blog with all sorts of positions put. It was impressive that on a Saturday the article published on the topic garnered 170 page view and 11 comments in just one day – an indicator of the level of interest I would suggest.

If you missed this article is here:


The release of the report of the Senate Report on March 15, 2010 (Monday) will be fascinating after they will have digested almost 10 hours of testimony and 50+ submissions.

Now released, see here:


The other story of the week has been the discovery by and reporting of by the Australian of some less than ideal behaviour on the part of Medicare Australia (MA) employees. This has now been well publicised in the professional press as well and will do considerable harm to the relationships between MA and clinicians if not handled well. To date I sense rather more denial than is useful.

On the broader front we are still to see how the Rudd / Roxon Health Reform plans will play out and how easy it will be to align the ducks (read Premiers).



Hospital networks key to e-health plan: Rudd's health reform

KEVIN Rudd's health reform plan is good news for e-health, according to Deloitte partner Adam Powick, lead author of the National E-health Strategy.

E-health barely rated a mention last week, but Mr Powick told The Australian "no government is going to invest in e-health or IT systems without a reform context, and we clearly have that now".

"Mr Rudd talked about the need to deliver better integrated, better co-ordinated care that's more responsive to patient needs, and about putting in place a health system for the 21st century," he said.

"I'd argue very strongly that you can't do either without electronic communications."



Health ID allows people tracking: Democrats

By Renai LeMay, Delimiter.com.au
09 March 2010 09:41 AM

The Australian Democrats party has warned that Health Minister Nicola Roxon's Health Identifiers Bill appears similar to the previous Howard government's ill-fated attempt to replace the Medicare Card with what it called an Access Card, which many saw as an attempt to create a national ID card.

In early February, Health Minister Nicola Roxon introduced legislation into Federal Parliament that would introduce a National Health Identifier to be implemented by the middle of 2010.

The health and social services Access Card project was terminated in November 2007 when Kevin Rudd's Labor government took office, ending several years of debate about whether the card was an attempt to introduce a national ID card similar to the Australia Card — dumped as a project back in 1987.



Privacy dominates Senate e-health inquiry

By Ben Grubb, ZDNet.com.au
12 March 2010 04:05 PM

Over the last two days a Senate inquiry has delved into the government's plans to roll-out a 16-digit national healthcare identifier for the majority of Australians, with the main obstacle many parties saw to implementation still being privacy.

The inquiry will hand in a report next week which will help inform debate in the Senate over the Bill.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon referred the Bill to a Senate Committee late February due to high levels of community interest.

The Australian Privacy Foundation, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre in the law faculty at the UNSW all spoke at the inquiry.



Computer bungle threatens medical research


March 13, 2010

The federal government's distribution of $379 million in health and medical research funding is in turmoil following the failure this week of a computer system meant to log scientists' applications online.

The new system has buckled under the strain of receiving about 3000 applications for prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council project grants, leaving researchers unable to edit the submissions on which their chance of funding and their careers depend.

Les Field, the deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of NSW, said: ''Researchers repeatedly lost parts of what they had been working on and found it difficult or impossible to make changes or edit their proposals.''



Roxon folds and releases draft health identifier rules

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • March 12, 2010 6:08PM

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon has buckled and released proposed draft regulations for the Healthcare Identifiers service, after privacy and security experts told a Senate inquiry the HI Bill could not rationally be considered without the accompanying rules that underpin the legislation.

A consultation paper prepared by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council was also released late Friday afternoon.

But it may be a case of too little, too late, with the regulations providing little new detail, and failing to address problems with the bill including the compulsory nature of the scheme, under which every Australian will be issued a 16-digit unique healthcare identifier from July 1 for improved medical information-sharing across the health sector.



New CSC deal hinges on Morecambe Bay

11 Mar 2010

A deal to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the National Programme for IT in the NHS by cutting back the scope of its main electronic patient record software is set to be signed, if CSC can deliver Lorenzo to an acute trust within two weeks.

E-Health Insider understands that a new deal with CSC for the North, Midlands and East of England hinges on the trust-wide go-live of Lorenzo at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust by the end of March.

This vital deadline looks set to be missed. In an interview with CIO Magazine last week, Andrew Spence, CSC’s UK director of healthcare strategy, was bullish about progress at Morecambe. “We’re ruthlessly focussed on getting things right for Morecambe Bay,” he said.



Apple's future won't be brought to you by the letter 'i'

March 12, 2010

Apple has been dealt a severe blow, having been told that it no longer has a monopoly on the letter ''i'' as a prefix for all its products. A trademarks tribunal has knocked back Apple's bid to stop a small company from trademarking the name DOPi for use on its laptop bags and cases for Apple products.

Apple argued that the DOPi name - iPod spelt backwards - was too similar to the California-based technology company's popular portable music player, which has sold more than 100 million units worldwide.

Apple has long relied on legal muscle to pursue individuals or companies it sees as infringing on its copyright. That came to a halt when the tribunal rejected its claim that consumers might think that they were buying an Apple product.


Despite being helped by a major law firm, Apple overlooked the fact that there were already a large number of products that have the ''i'' prefix before their name - iSkin and iSoft, to name just two - all of which are operating in the same class of electronic goods.



iSoft loses a senior executive

From US health IT website Histalk:

"iSoft loses another senior executive from it's flagship business unit. Just confirmed from internal source that Keith Kirtland, UK&I Commercial and Sales Director resigned earlier this month."

The website reports that Kirtland is the fourth sales director in as many years and his departure may affect "overall sales in the UK for this troubled NPfIT supplier".

In response to the report, an iSoft spokesman said this morning:

"Mr Kirtland left for personal reasons. Tony Bowden, formerly of Initiate, has been appointed business development director for the UK and Ireland business."



Part 1: How to save billions in health costs – John Menadue

, by Croakey

In the first of two Croakey articles looking at how to cut health costs, John Menadue writes:

“Successive governments in Australia have failed to examine and take action to curb rapidly rising costs and inefficiencies in healthcare. To address these problems would involve confronting special interests with their Canberra lobbying power.

The Opposition is now attempting to frighten us over new taxes to fund healthcare.

See point 5:

5. The glacial introduction of e-health. The delivery of health services is a very labour and information intensive activity. The same is true in finance and banking. But whereas the banking sector has revolutionised its information systems, the health sector is still in the horse-and-buggy age. Estimates range from 5% to 10% as the potential savings that could be achieved by efficient and effective implementation of health IT. A 5% improvement would be about $5 b of Australia’s total health spending. Commonwealth Government leadership has been lacking in this area.



NSW first for health identifiers

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • March 10, 2010 4:55PM

NSW public hospital patients will be guinea pigs for the countrywide rollout of healthcare identifiers, with an estimated 4.5 million people signed onto the new system by the state within 18 months.

National E-Health Transition Authority chief executive Peter Fleming told a Senate inquiry into the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Bill that - once the legislation and as yet undisclosed regulatory controls are passed by Parliament - up to 6 million Australians could have Medicare-assigned unique patient numbers, intended to support clinician access to personal health information, within that timeframe.

NSW Health is spearheading NEHTA's work on linking some 20 separate hospital-issued health identifiers to the new unique personal identifiers, off the back of an upgrade of current radiology information and picture archiving and communications systems.



Telstra split hits a wall

KEVIN Rudd's bill to force the break-up of Telstra looks doomed to fail, with the Coalition and a key cross-bench senator resolving yesterday to vote against it.

Opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said the Coalition was "utterly opposed" to the move to force Telstra to separate its wholesale and retail arms by denying it access to the spectrum it needed for its future business.

"Labor's legislation is a deliberate assault on Telstra and its 1.4 million shareholders and 30,000 employees," he said.

"(It) is all about trying to prop up their reckless $43 billion national broadband network, which they embarked upon without a cost-benefit analysis or a business plan."



Breakthrough puts doctors in picture


March 9, 2010

JUST when attention is refocusing on the $43 billion national broadband network (NBN), and its proponents are saying how much the healthcare industry will benefit from having 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to handle all their gigabit-sized CT and MRI images, along comes an Australian company with a technology capable of delivering 2D, 3D and 4D (animated 3D) images, in colour, over a 4 Mbps line.

For radiologists, cardiologists, oncologists and other specialists who need instant access to increasingly complex and exact medical images the breakthrough is significant.

Sam Hupert, co-founder and executive director of Promedicus, a Melbourne-based global medical practice management and image handling company that developed the new technology, says: "We have overcome the tyranny of the network."



Medicare staff fined for prying in records

12th Mar 2010

Shannon McKenzie

DOCTORS have voiced alarm at revelations that nearly 1000 Medicare staff have been investigated in the past four years for accessing client records without proper authority.

In a statutory report submitted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Medicare stated that since November 2006, monitoring systems had identified 948 employees who may have accessed confidential client records.



Breaches spark privacy fears


By Michael East

There are renewed fears that more investigative powers for Medicare could see abuses of patient confidentiality, following revelations the organisation has investigated almost 1000 employees for suspected security breaches.

Last week Medicare revealed it had investigated 948 cases of confidential client records being accessed by staff since late 2006.

Medicare admitted it had set up a database of records purporting to belong to high-profile celebrities to try to catch staff in the act of accessing unauthorised records.



Wider reform sends e-health back to triage

Linking the electronic records system to a referendum on health reform may push back its introduction



Doctors ill-prepared for new system


09 Mar, 2010 08:42 AM

Doctors are not ready to use a new nationwide records system that assigns all patients a single health number, even though it is scheduled to begin operating in less than four months.

The Senate's Community Affairs Committee will meet today to discuss the Healthcare Identifiers Service, which is designed to allow patient information to be shared more easily among medical workers and researchers.

The service is scheduled to operate from July 1 if Parliament passes the legislation that underpins it. But the Australian Medical Association says the IT network remains unbuilt and most surgeries lack the software needed to use the numbers.



New pathology system for Vic hospitals

By Jacquelyn Holt, ZDNet.com.au
09 March 2010 01:59 PM

Australian e-health provider, LRS Health, has beat larger international competitors to win a five-year deal to provide e-health systems and support for Victoria's largest hospital group, Southern Health.

LRS Health began implementing its MediPath pathology management system in hospitals in October last year, with plans to go live in April. The company will provide 24-hour support for the system.

The system will process around 1.5 million pathology tests Southern Health deals with annually. The group services approximately 32 per cent of metropolitan Melbourne across 40 sites including five major hospitals.



LRS Health wins five-year pathology service contract

LOCAL e-health software maker LRS Health has won a minimum five-year contract to supply pathology management services for Victoria's Southern Health, which provides almost one-third of the state's specialist services.

It was selected for its MediPATH system, beating large multinationals such as Cerner and GE.

Southern Health has more than 40 sites around Melbourne, including five major hospitals, and MediPATH will process about 1.5 million pathology tests required for patients each year.



Confusion reigns on health ID: Heathcare Idenfiers Bill

SOFTWARE makers, doctors, consumer groups and lawyers remain perplexed by the design and context of the Healthcare Identifiers Bill being accorded a rushed Senate inquiry this week.

Despite a seven-day deadline, 39 submissions on the controversial bill were lodged by Friday, with the community affairs committee set to hold eight hours of hearings this week before reporting to parliament on Monday.

The Australian Medical Association, Consumers Health Forum and Medical Software Industry Association support, in principle, a national scheme of unique healthcare identifiers for patients, but doctors, allied providers and healthcare organisations say the lack of detail makes risk assessment difficult.



Health IT Board drafts e-health plan

Draft strategy for industry comment expected by the end of March

By Randal Jackson | Wellington | Monday, 8 March, 2010

A first draft national IT plan for health will be made available for sector comment on March 31 and is expected to be finalised by June 30.

Graeme Osborne, chairman of the National Health IT Board, says he expects the government’s Shared Services Agency to take the lead in deciding IT directions “with our support”.

Health Minister Tony Ryall wants savings of $700 million over five years by having common back office systems for the country’s 21 district health boards.




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