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, May 02, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 02-05-2010.

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:

The fallout from the proposed Rudd / Roxon ‘Health Reform’ just rolls on. This appeared a day or so ago.


Health system is still ailing

THE Council of Australian Governments meeting on April 19 and 20 was the culmination of events with origins in Kevin Rudd's political commitment in 2007 to take over and fix the health system if the states had not done so. Following the prolonged study by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission and more than 100 hospital visits across the nation by the Prime Minister and Health Minister Nicola Roxon, hopes were high. In reality, the COAG communique is a mixed bag and must be tested as to whether it represents a workable framework for reform.

Rudd rightly discerned the system was at a tipping point in respect of funding for the future. In every Western country, health costs are rising well ahead of the consumer price index. This is even more critical in the light of costs associated with our ageing population detailed by this year's Intergenerational Report in January. The capacity to fund future growth has now been resolved by COAG, subject to ongoing negotiations with Western Australia, with significant funding from the commonwealth with its access to growing revenue. This is the one big tick.

The premiers at COAG were concerned primarily with public hospitals, always a big issue for state budgets. These views were put most stridently by Victorian Premier John Brumby.

Concern in the community, however, is for the quality of health care more broadly and people's access to it. Primary care, and its interface with hospitals, matters as much as hospitals themselves, as services increasingly will be delivered outside hospitals.

Aged care is becoming an urgent issue. There is a need for elderly people to be looked after in or near their homes, with expanded community nursing and nurse practitioners and access to rehabilitation hospitals and services, rather than seeing the elderly as a negative issue for public hospitals, just needing more nursing homes.

The full article is well worth reading – from a genuinely independent expert – as it makes clear just how superficial the proposed reforms are and how many problems are essentially left unaddressed.

I really hope there can be some improvements to what we have been offered so far. Maybe the budget will have some pleasant surprises! We live in hope.

Now back to e-Health.



'Keeping me alive costs $100,000 a year'


April 30, 2010

HELEN OWENS is a health economist whose long struggle with illness has given her a sharp insight into the health system.

She has had breast cancer for 16 years and yesterday did the unusual - she gave the patient's perspective to health leaders gathered to thrash out the worth of Kevin Rudd's reforms.

''It is costing you, the community, probably $100,000 a year to keep me alive,'' said Ms Owens, a former Productivity Commission member. ''Can this continue?''


Christine Bennett, a former chairwoman of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, said the high cost of many treatments was often not appreciated.

''The first thing we need is a more effective system.''

The introduction of national e-health patient records would generate big efficiencies, reduce waste and improve patient safety, Dr Bennett said.



Care at the click of a mouse: Health Vault

IS it possible to reform health care without access to computer systems and secure email? While nobody does business any other way it seems the Rudd government believes the answer is yes.

The recent health reform plan comes down to more beds, doctors and aged-care places, the only innovation being some fancy funding footwork between federal and state governments. What's missing is the information technology infrastructure to make it happen, let alone the smart devices and software that, for instance, will keep patients out of emergency departments and elderly people out of nursing homes.

The medical software industry and doctors say it's not rocket science. Programs exist. They just need to be pulled together under commonwealth leadership.



Online remedy for stuttering


May 2, 2010

Relief may be at hand for millions of people around the world who stutter, thanks to the pioneering work of Australian experts.

The Australian Stuttering Research Centre in Sydney has won a federal grant of nearly $5 million to develop a system that sufferers can access via the internet. The simple program has cured pre-schoolers in 12 weeks.



Queensland Health to deploy nurse, midwife management system

New system aims to better manage deployment of midwives and temporary nurses in regional and remote parts of the state

Queensland Health will centralise the deployment, procurement and management of rural nurses and midwifes in the state.

A new IT system will go-live later this year and will apply to all rural Queensland nursing agency services.

According to department tender documents, the internal management service will provide a low clinical service risk, use "service governance mechanisms", and provide a "fiscally responsible approach" to service cost recovery. The agency expects the system will be progressively implemented state-wide commencing with a trial and incremental rollout to metropolitan facilities, other South-East Queensland health service districts, and then other regional centres.



Hospitals' waiting shame


April 30, 2010

A THIRD of patients in Victorian emergency departments were not moved to hospital beds within eight hours in the second half of last year, casting serious doubt on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's pledge to reduce waits to four hours.

More than 47,000 Victorians languished on trolleys for longer than eight hours, meaning that 34 per cent of the total 140,487 patients transferred to beds were not moved within the state government's target time.

The state government failed to meet six of its nine targets - including that all urgent elective surgery patients receive treatment within 30 days - according to a biannual report card released yesterday.

In light of his government's failure to move emergency patients off trolleys and into beds within eight hours, state Health Minister Daniel Andrews yesterday admitted: ''The four-hour target is not an easy thing to meet.''


Mr Andrews said the data was ''a fair and accurate report of performance across the hospital system'' following his scrapping of a bonus funding pool and tougher auditing of hospital data introduced in April last year in response to revelations that some hospitals had fudged waiting lists.



Calls for Qld payroll bungle inquiry

April 30, 2010 - 8:14AM


The state opposition wants an independent inquiry into the Queensland Health payroll bungle.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle told ABC radio on Friday that Queensland Health staff will also lose superannuation entitlements.

Tens of thousands of Queensland Health staff have been underpaid, overpaid, or not paid at all under a new computerised payroll system introduced last month.

Doctors on Thursday joined nurses and other employees in the public hospital system to protest outside the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital.



ICSGlobal sells Thelma business

ICSGlobal has agreed to sell its Thelma health transaction network to eHealthWise, a subsidiary of logistics systems developer CargoWise. The transaction is valued at $A1.45 million and eHealthWise will begin operating Thelma on May 1.

When the deal is completed ISCGlobal will continue to operate its UK business, Medical Billing & Collection, explained Geoff Lambert, a director of ICS Global. http://icsglobal.net/

InterSystems cure for clinic

Global Integration has implemented the Ensemble healthcare platform from US developer InterSystems to build an integrated information environment for the Sydney IVF infertility clinic. The platform will operate with a fertility management system that was recently acquired by Sydney IVF, and will integrate with the Navision financial software system already in use at the clinic. www.globalintegration.com.au



Crashing e-records leave paramedics stricken

Ambulance staff say government-backed record system is sick

Paramedics are divided on the benefits of an electronic Patient Care Record (ePCR) system that is replacing old paper-based notes across Australia.

The ePCR system is the four-year brainchild of the former Metropolitan Ambulance Service, now Ambulance Victoria, and is dubbed the Victoria Ambulance Clinical Information System (VACIS) in that state.

The current paper-based Patient Care Records contain information from paramedics on a patient’s condition and are handed over to doctors and nurses when an ambulance arrives at a hospital.

Through moving them to digital records via the ePCR system paramedics will in theory cut down on the time filling out carbon-copy paper reports and create new lines of digital data which can be analysed to improve healthcare delivery.



Ambulance Victoria looks for cover

OHS and Work Cover management system on the cards

Ambulance Victoria has moved to better manage its Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) incident and hazards, WorkCover claims and peer co-ordination activities with the assessment of a new Information Management System (IMS).

If adopted, the IMS would allow all 4200 Ambulance Victoria employees to log incidents and hazards for appropriate escalation to the organisation’s Health Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) department.

The system would also allow the HSW department to perform early intervention andinjury management, claims management and peer co-ordination activities.



Microsoft plans to pilot e-health system in Australia

By Beverley Head

Tuesday, 27 April 2010 14:02

Software giant Microsoft hopes to pilot its Health Vault system in Australia within the next year to 18 months and is seeking partners to launch the service locally– and in turn hand the Government a get-out-of jail-free card as far as big bang spending on e-health systems is concerned.

Health Vault, which is a cloud based service, is being offered to patients by some clinics such as the Virginia Mason Clinic in Seattle and Denver Health in the US. It allows patients to use the cloud to store and access their health related information – and also allow their medical providers access to the content.

Although the end result is similar to that available from Google Health, which allows users to store their medical and health information in a cloud, Microsoft doesn’t offer the service direct, instead sells the platform to health providers which can then use it to develop a service for clients.



Microsoft looking for partnership for Health Vault

MICROSOFT is "actively looking" at bringing HealthVault, its personal e-health record platform, to Australia, and is talking to potential private sector partners.

Michael Gration, Microsoft's local health director, says that while there isn't a timeframe as yet, "as a reality, we will bring HealthVault here" and commercial arrangements are being investigated.

"A lot of stakeholders on the private health side are very keen to get HealthVault into the country (as a platform for) stronger care pathways for their customers," Mr Gration said.



E-health is Kevin Rudd's little orphan Annie

THE glaring omission of e-health in the Rudd government's long-awaited national health and hospitals reform package has stunned and dismayed the IT industry.

"The missing link is health IT," said Health Informatics Society of Australia president Michael Legg.

"There was every expectation e-health would be addressed in the Council of Australian Governments agreement, as the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission made it clear the reforms had to be underpinned by a robust IT infrastructure.

"But e-health is notable for its absence in these announcements."



Software bug mixes patient health data

iSoft stands by product after mix-up at Gisborne Hospital

By Randal Jackson | Wellington | Wednesday, 28 April, 2010

A system bug in an iSoft application used at Gisborne Hospital resulted in one patient’s details being displayed as those of another.

The incident led to extensive remedial work on the iSoft product involved.

The hospital says the error was detected early in March. Computerworld had been told by a health source, however, that the bug, in an iSoft system called Healthview, had gone undetected for two years.

“Investigation and notification to iSoft showed the error to be a system error within the Healthviews product and affecting most sites using Healthviews. All sites have been advised and have carried out their own checking processes,” the hospital says in a statement.



Health Care IT Solutions Company iSOFT Chooses Verizon Business for Global Communications Expansion

Cloud-Based Approach Enhances Flexibility to Support Expansion Plans

SINGAPORE, April 28, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Health care IT solutions company iSOFT wanted a flexible, secure, advanced communications network that would help drive collaboration and growth. By choosing a fully managed, cloud-based IT and communications solution from Verizon Business, iSOFT expects to meet those goals while also realising significant cost and management efficiencies.

One of the world's largest providers of health care IT solutions, iSOFT works with customers in more than 40 countries across five continents to manage patient information and drive improvements in core processes. The company has expanded rapidly in recent years, both organically and through acquisition, resulting in a number of different networks and systems outside its core IP network, which were expensive to run, unreliable, and restricted productivity and expansion.



NW Trusts can get off the Lorenzo bus

27 Apr 2010

Trusts in the North West of England have been asked if they want to get off the ‘Lorenzo Bus’ and told they will not have to pay penalties if they do.

A letter seen by E-Health Insider asks trusts if they would “formally withdraw from the [National Programme for IT in the NHS]” and says “a trust’s financial liability will only occur when you have committed to a project and signed a project initiation document.”

The move is understood to be a much wider plan to get as many as 30 NHS trusts to opt out of the iSoft strategic patient record that CSC is due to implement across the North, Midlands and East of England.



New drug pumps pose dose risks


April 28, 2010

THE NSW Health Department's $70 million introduction of computerised intravenous fluid and medicine pumps has suffered a series of technical errors that have forced Royal North Shore Hospital to stop using the machines for cancer patients.

The errors involve leaks from the tubing that connects to syringes of medication. Staff have noticed drops of medication still present after the tubes have been withdrawn, raising the possibility that patients might receive an inaccurate dose.

Greg Knoblanche, the director of anaesthetics at Royal North Shore, confirmed the devices were not being used for chemotherapy, for patients' safety and to protect staff who might be exposed to the highly toxic drugs.



Assessors too overloaded by new system to judge research grant applications

RESEARCH grant assessors have to trawl through tens of thousands of pages of applications under cumbersome new procedures that threaten to undermine the system, a researcher has warned.

"They are already suffering from referee fatigue -- if peers get annoyed enough, they'll drop out next year," National Health & Medical Research Council senior principal research fellow Phil Robinson said yesterday.

Under the peer review system used to select the grants, each panel member has been sent a pack of about 80 applications from researchers for assessment.



Govt under pressure on broadband

April 27, 2010 - 7:44AM


The opposition and minor parties are again putting pressure on the federal government over its proposed National Broadband Network (NBN).

Debate on legislation related to the rollout of the $43 billion NBN is likely to resume in the Senate in a fortnight.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has also promised to release a report into its viability before the May budget.


And totally off base – but interesting!


Aliens may not come in peace: Stephen Hawking

  • From: AFP
  • April 26, 2010 10:01AM

ALIENS may exist but mankind should avoid contact with them as the consequences could be devastating, British scientist Stephen Hawking has warned.

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans,” said the astrophysicist in a new television series, according to British media reports.

The programs depict an imagined universe featuring alien life forms in huge spaceships on the hunt for resources after draining their own planet dry.




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