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."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 18-04-2010.

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 will only be one major item of interest this week – and that will be the outcome of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Monday April 19, 2010.

For what it’s worth having read a great deal about the proposals I think that neither Rudd or Brumby are even close to addressing the sustainability of our health system over the next 40 years.

Both have proposals which are desperately short on detail, are incomplete and both clearly do not understand the small, but crucial, place Health IT can play as an enabler of true structural reform.

There has to me been a totally inadequate debate on the overall structure of our health system – despite the efforts of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission (NHHRC) – and the Government has failed to consult on the broader directions preferring to adopt at wandering around the public hospital’s approach to information gathering and consultation.

A really useful amount of work was done by the NHHRC and a detailed Government response to each or the recommendations could have been a useful ‘conversation starter’ towards considered reform – rather we just got a half done plan which does not cover the bases by any means.

See here for some of the interesting work done and only seemingly partly digested.


On this point I had this pointed out to me a few days ago.


Analyzing National Health Reform Strategies With a Dynamic Simulation Model

Bobby Milstein 1, Jack Homer 2*, Gary Hirsch 3

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2 Homer Consulting

3 Consultant


Proposals to improve the US health system are commonly supported by models that have only a few variables and overlook certain processes that may delay, dilute, or defeat intervention effects. We use an evidence-based dynamic simulation model with a broad national scope to analyze 5 policy proposals. Our results suggest that expanding insurance coverage and improving health care quality would likely improve health status but would also raise costs and worsen health inequity, whereas a strategy that also strengthens primary care capacity and emphasizes health protection would improve health status, reduce inequities, and lower costs. A software interface allows diverse stakeholders to interact with the model through a policy simulation game called HealthBound.

----- End Abstract.

This is a very interesting paper that reflects the need to look at the whole system coherently.

It seems to me that offering a plan that does not offer a fully integrated view of the primary, hospital, mental and preventive sectors just does not cut it.

It is also good the Opposition has noticed how e-Health has apparently been skipped.


COAG urged to discuss all issues


April 18, 2010 - 4:09PM


With health stealing the COAG spotlight, the coalition is concerned a myriad of other pressing issues will fall off the agenda when leaders meet on Monday.

The first Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of the year has turned into a showdown between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and some premiers on health.

Mr Rudd has threatened to let the meeting run for days if that's what it takes to get agreement from the states and territories on his health reform agenda.

But opposition COAG spokeswoman Marise Payne is concerned it means many important issues that were meant to be dealt with at the meeting won't get an airing.


"There's work to be done in housing, in roads and transport, in e-health, in urban planning.



Roxon asked to explain 'false' e-health claims

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • April 15, 2010 4:47PM

QUEENSLAND Liberal Senator Sue Boyce has demanded an explanation from Health Minister Nicola Roxon over "false and wildly optimistic" information about the readiness of the Rudd Government's national Healthcare Identifiers service, which is due to start on July 1.

Senator Boyce said the first stage of the government's e-health program "hasn't a snowball's chance in hell" of being ready from a technical standpoint, while the legislation to establish the system has not been introduced to the Senate - just ten weeks out from the proposed start date.

"This is supposed to be a state-of-the-art nationally integrated system to provide all Australians and all healthcare providers with their own unique identity numbers, but the project has been crippled by inept management, hopeless dithering and a complete lack of political leadership," she said in a statement.



E-health record still too unsexy for COAG?

By Ben Grubb, ZDNet.com.au on April 14th, 2010

Health Minister Nicola Roxon's office has refused to say whether it will take the business case for an individual electronic health record (IEHR) to the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting on Monday.

The authority the Federal Government has put in charge of rolling out a 16-digit number for most Australians, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), has said that an electronic healthcare record would be a "secure, electronic record of your medical history, stored and shared in a network of connected systems" which would give patients "the opportunity to look at [their] health information using a computer".



Baillieu's web solution to hospital queues


April 18, 2010

VICTORIANS would be able to check online the waiting times for hospital emergency wards before seeking treatment under an opposition initiative to improve access to emergency care.

The overhaul of emergency department data, to be announced today by Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, will allow patients to choose from their home a hospital with the shortest waiting time.

The data will also include whether ambulances are being diverted from a hospital and how many patients are waiting to be seen in an emergency ward.

A similar system operates in Western Australia, where patients can compare emergency department waiting times in nine hospitals. The opposition says hospital workers will not be over-burdened with publishing the data because it is already collected and entered into a computer system.



ICT solutions to make medical centres more efficient

KUALA LUMPUR: Many local hospitals are not utilising ICT (information and communications technology) to its full potential, according to healthcare IT company iSoft Health Systems (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Most only have administrative systems and financial software.

These hospitals are not using ICT to assist in clinical applications, such as X-ray record and pharmacy inventory tracking, said Brian Cohen, chief technology officer at iSoft.



Get set for health sector reform

By Ian Birks*

The Health Identifiers Bill, tabled on February 10, aims to establish a single 16-digit identifier for individuals, practitioners, and health providers, which will ensure the accurate identification of health recipients and providers, eliminating errors and providing the basis for reduced costs.

It is the first step towards comprehensive e‑health records and full sectoral reform, and a key platform for e-health. AIIA is a strong supporter of the legislation.

E-health offers the opportunity to access and share more comprehensive and accessible healthcare information between professionals and patients than has ever been available in the past.



Australian e-health spending to top $2 billion in 2010

Technology in healthcare is big business, despite persistent underfunding

E-health is a major opportunity for the ICT sector despite persistent underfunding, according to analyst, IDC.

The firm says that the healthcare industry will spend $2.26 billion on ICT in 2010, with $721 million of that going on telecommunications, $509 million on services, and a further $102 million spent on software.

Top investment priorities during the year will include Electronic Health Records with appropriate standards and privacy, and interoperability and security around integration and compliance with standards.



NSW south ready for e-health identifiers

South-east area health deploys bottom-up medical records

Walk into any hospital, Emergency Department or outpatient clinic in South-Eastern Sydney & Illawarra, New South Wales, and the clinician will bring up your full medical history on a computer before you sit down.

It’s what more than a million residents can expect through what is likely the biggest implementation of an electronic medical records (eMR) system in the Southern Hemisphere. The massive ground-up IT system has tentacles in almost every facet of healthcare: From surgery and emergency, to pathology and nutrition, to bedside care and discharge.

Phase one of the state baseline build — the standardised foundation for NSW — was quietly completed last month. It introduced eMR into clinics under the massive South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service (SESIAHS). The emergency departments and operating theatres at the Prince of Wales, Sydney Children’s and the Royal Women’s hospitals are the latest of 16 hospitals to tap into the eMR system, which supports 14,900 health professionals.


But the deployment of identifiers has become a major point of contention due to the lack of information surrounding how the government will implement the nationwide system by mid-year. A health service manager, who spoke to Computerworld under the condition of anonymity, said it is unclear how the National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA) will integrate the e-health identifiers with the melting pot of medical systems across the country.

“It will never get anywhere if NeHTA simply provides the national identifier and each vendor is required to link into it,” the person said.

NeHTA has yet to find a software vendor to integrate the identifiers, although Health Department officials told a Senate committee in November that work was in progress.



NBN Co will not offer retail services: reports

National Broadband Network Co. chief executive Mike Quigley told a Senate Committee inquiry yesterday that the national broadband network would not offer retail services, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Rather, the NBN would provide data-only services, encouraging internet service providers (ISPs) to develop their own retail offerings.

In addition, connection of any non-ISP customer will be subject to a parliamentary vote, the inquiry heard.



No return on NBN for 'up to 30 years'

THE head of the $43 billion national broadband network has warned that the federal government will not make a financial return on its ambitious project for up to 30 years.

Speaking before a Senate select committee, NBN Co chief Mike Quigley raised fresh doubts about the project's ability to attract private investment when he told senators that capital returns from the project to provide broadband at speeds of up to 100Mbps across the country would be long-term.

"The board's role is to get a satisfactory long-term return on the capital the government invests," Mr Quigley said. "Now it's up to the government to determine what that return rate is, but we would hope to generate a return.



Royal Children's Hospital to move to an Electronic Medical Record

Flags roll out of scanned medical record system as a step toward e-health

The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) has flagged its intention to push ahead with e-health and roll out an Electronic Medical Record.

The Electronic Medical Record is being deployed in response to the Victorian Government’s $360 million whole-of-health ICT strategy aimed at modernising and replacing ICT systems throughout the state's public healthcare sector.

According to RCH documents, the organisation is looking to deploy a scanned medical record system as a major component of the overall Electronic Medical Record.

The system, to be used across the entire organisation and satellite sites, will allow for the scanning of patient notes, which would otherwise be contained in the hard copy medical record, according to RCH documents.



Work yet to start on e-health identifier

SIX months after assuring a Senate committee that the National E-Health Transition Authority was working with primary care software firms over the proposed national Healthcare Identifier system, the federal Health Department has conceded work is yet to begin.

"Currently there are no implementation projects within primary care being funded," a Health spokeswoman said last week.

The department was unable to supply a list of medical practice vendors previously said to be working with Nehta on an "implementation pathway" -- originally requested by Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce in February amid questions about Nehta's activities.



Medibank to keep call centre staff after buyout

THE government-owned private health insurer Medibank, which last week acquired phone and web-based call centre leader McKesson Asia-Pacific for an undisclosed sum, will not lay off any workers.

McKesson provides telephone nursing triage services on behalf of federal and state governments through Healthdirect Australia.

Medibank Private has not disclosed the price paid for the firm, which has also managed the insurer's Better Health phone service for the past five years, but said the purchase would boost its health prevention and disease management services business.



Net filters a 'modest measure': Conroy

April 13, 2010 - 10:01AM

The federal government's plan to bring in a mandatory internet filter is a modest regulatory measure that will combat illegal activity, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says.

In a speech to The Sydney Institute on Monday, Senator Conroy again defended the plan against opponents who believe it's akin to censorship.

"The internet is an incredible piece of technology and in our lifetime it's unlikely we'll see anything like it again," he said.



A lot of ballyhoo but USB 3.0 has not arrived at SuperSpeed

TECHNOLOGY often changes with bewildering speed in the personal computing world.

But sometimes, despite a lot of ballyhoo, things seem to drag on for years, with nothing much happening.

That's how it appears to be with USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed, a potentially much faster replacement technology for the familiar USB 2.0 cables that connect most PCs with peripheral devices such as printers, scanners, keyboards and external hard drives.

In theory, SuperSpeed cables can transfer data at 4.8Gb/sec, 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and six times faster than the rival FireWire 800 standard.




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