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."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 28-03-2010.

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:

Things appear to have settled down a little after the utter waste of time we saw with the ‘Great Health Debate’ on Tuesday.

I really think it is just a joke that with an election coming in the next 5-6 months that the Labor Party is playing duck and drakes with releasing the details of its plans for the Health Sector. I fully understand why the States are being a bit hesitant is signing up to the plan when the details are not yet properly out there.

I especially would like to understand just how the proposed Heath Hospital Networks will interact with the Primary Care Sector, Private Hospital Sector and so on.

Of course I would also like to understand how e-Health will fit with all these new plans.

The Labor spokespeople keep saying they have a detailed plan, but I really don’t see significant detail just yet.

Of course we also presently have a substantial vacuum with respect to what the Opposition is planning. I have to say given Tony Abbott has 5 years of experience as Health Minister, I would have expected some decent policy be announced by now, and it needs to come soon.

On another topic it is interesting to see various interest groups coming out with comments in e-Health. It is really important we have an informed debate of all the topics around e-Health before we see too much in the way of legislation enacted. The more discussion and debate the better in my view.

Sadly there do seem to be some commentators who are not all that deeply across the issues they are spruiking. An example is the comment here from the College of Pathologists.

“They cite errors in the labelling of pathology results that have been linked to an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 identification mistakes every year.”

See article below.

Sadly there is no comment I could find on just how many of these ‘labelling errors’ will be fixed with the HI Service. I really struggle to see the linkage and I have to say the level of error in labelling seems to suggest some other major systemic issues. That is really a huge number of mistakes!



Security fears may delay e-health patient identifier reforms until after election


March 22, 2010

A CENTREPIECE of the Rudd government's health reforms - the electronic patient identifier system - is at risk of delay until after the election amid concerns over security and privacy.

To shore up support for the e-health scheme, advocates have compiled dozens of examples of how the patient identifiers would save lives and end long delays in locating patient records for effective treatment.

They cite errors in the labelling of pathology results that have been linked to an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 identification mistakes every year.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia has warned that such mistakes can endanger lives and have called for the urgent use of the identifiers.



Hackers try to capture patient bank details

2nd Apr 2010

Andrew Bracey

GPs are being warned to remain vigilant in protecting patient files after one Melbourne practice encountered a computer virus that breached its security provisions and attempted to access patient bank details.

Melbourne GP Dr Graeme Baro said despite firewalls and antivirus software, his machines and servers contracted a virus, which had been designed to seek out patient bank details and send them back to a remote source. The virus, however, did not succeed in sending any patient information out of the practice.

“A couple of computers were having trouble with their functions… so our IT person checked and found a lot of viruses in them. We have firewalls to protect us but [viruses like this] can apparently still get in,” Dr Baro told MO. “[I’m told] one of the viruses was trying everything to get the information out – multiple times per second.”



New standards must not hurt GPs’ hip pockets

22nd Mar 2010

Shannon McKenzie

NEW practice accreditation standards must not require GPs to invest in expensive new equipment or set tougher e-health criteria, doctors have told the RACGP.

As part of a review of the Standards for General Practice, the RACGP last week released the results of an online member survey, which asked GPs and practice managers how the standards could be improved, and what should or should not appear in the next edition.



Pharmacy urges support for e-health Bill

25 March 2010 | by Simone Roberts

The Australian Pharmacy Liaison Forum has called on all sides of politics to support the Rudd Government's controversial Healthcare Identifiers Bill now before Federal Parliament.

The forum, representing the full range of pharmacy education and professional activity in Australia, met in Canberra this week and unanimously expressed support for the passage of the legislation. The legislation allows for unique 16 digit number to be assigned to all health care providers and consumers by the middle of this year.

"Individual healthcare identifiers within a strong privacy framework are vital building blocks to the introduction of national electronic health records," the forum said in a statement released yesterday.



College Of GPs Urges Politicians To Deal With Future Of Australia's Healthcare Now

23 Mar 2010

At a time of major health reform debate, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Australia's politicians to make e-health and the implementation of a national Healthcare Identifiers Service a priority. Dr Chris Mitchell, RACGP President, said that individual healthcare identifiers and healthcare provider identifiers are the key that will unlock e-health for Australians.

"Without improvements in e-health and medical information management systems we will continue to expose patients to unnecessary risks, including adverse events and medication errors. Major cost saving can be achieved from a reduced number of tests and better management of chronic diseases supported by evidence-based guidelines," Dr Mitchell said.

"Every person in Australia should receive care that is informed by an electronic medical record. The passage of the Healthcare Identifiers Bill 2010 is an essential step to enable e-health innovation and efficiency.



Facebook linked to rise in syphilis


March 26, 2010 - 1:27PM

A British public health expert has blamed Facebook for a resurgence of the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis, but Australian STI researchers have called the claim "far fetched".

Data published by several British newspapers this week indicated that cases of syphilis had increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside - the areas of Britain where Facebook is most popular.

Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, told The Sun newspaper that "social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex".



iSOFT wins two-year contract renewal with NHS body worth $9.8 million

Sydney – Tuesday, 23 March 2010 – iSOFT Group Limited (ASX: ISF), Australia's largest listed health information technology company, today announced that NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has extended its contract for iSOFT Business Solutions to host its Oracle finance and purchasing applications by an additional two years.

This latest contract, worth £6 million ($9.8 million), extends the original $47.8 million agreement, signed in March 2008, to 2016. It expands the services offered and includes new HP hardware and infrastructure and a move to Oracle Release 12. The contract is for services only and excludes licenses.

NHS SBS provides services such as accounts payable, debt collection, bank account reconciliation, and account reporting for 30% of all NHS organisations. iSOFT has provided NHS SBS with a fully hosted managed service since 2002.



3D haptics to help surgeons feel the cutting edge

AUSTRALIAN researchers are developing a universal simulator to bring a realistic sense of touch to simulations for medical procedures, defence and policing.

The simulator is based on force feedback technology, or haptics, which in its simplest form is used in arcade games to give players a sense of touch -- such as feeling the forces when going into a corner in a driving game.

Deakin University robotics engineer James Mullins has been developing the technology with the goal to make a simulation so close to the real thing that it can be used for training purposes.



Hunter region trials Intel home-care unit

Karen Dearne

From: The Australian

March 23, 2010 12:00AM

HEART patients in the NSW Hunter region are the first to trial an in-home monitoring system with potential to revolutionise medical care of people living with chronic illness.

Developed by Intel, the Health Guide home-care unit and online support system has been piloted by a private home-care service, Hunter Nursing, and 50 patients with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Participants took a daily reading of their own blood pressure using a cuff attached to the device, and the data was automatically sent for review by medical professionals at Hunter Nursing, says director Margaret Scott.



In pictures: Intel monitors Australia's e-health

By Georgina Swan



Health bill papers `fall off' government websites

COMPUTER glitches on two government websites were blamed for key documents on the controversial Healthcare Identifiers Bill going walkabout last week.

Last Tuesday, following revelations in The Australian that Medicare Australia had provided the Senate inquiry on the HI bill with new details on suspected staff snooping, the document detailing data privacy breaches disappeared from the Senate Community Affairs committee website. Also missing were three National E-Health Transition Authority responses, posted the previous day, to questions on notice from the Senate inquiry.

The committee secretary said computer glitches had caused some documents to "fall off" the page for most of Tuesday.



Benzo use not affected by e-intervention

by Jared Reed

The move towards e-health is ramping up but when it comes to notifications about medicines and prescribing habits, it seems GPs might be suffering from alert fatigue, or they place a higher trust in their own clinical judgement.

Over a six-month period, Queensland researchers emailed GPs, nurses and pharmacists three fact sheets about benzodiazepines, with the aim of decreasing their use in aged care facilities towards “more appropriate” prescribing.



Rudd roasts Conroy over the national broadband report

KEVIN Rudd is believed to have told Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to come up with a strategy within two weeks to take the heat out of the political crisis building up around the government's $43 billion national broadband project.

Canberra sources said the directive followed a "difficult" meeting between Rudd and Conroy after the Prime Minister was shown a copy of the controversial $25 million implementation study into the development of the national broadband network.

Conroy has dismissed Senate demands to table the 500-page report prepared by KPMG and McKinsey & Co, arguing that he intends to discuss its findings with cabinet colleagues first.



Conroy's internet censorship agenda slammed by tech giants


March 23, 2010 - 4:38PM

Australia's biggest technology companies, communications academics and many lobby groups have delivered a withering critique of the government's plans to censor the internet.

The government today published most of the 174 submissions it received relating to improving the transparency and accountability measures of its internet filtering policy.

Legislation to force ISPs to implement the policy is expected to be introduced within weeks. The filters will block a blacklist of "refused classification" websites for all Australians on a mandatory basis.




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