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."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links - 17-05-2010.

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:

Clearly the big news this week is the Budget allocation for e-Health.

It is fascinating to see how much is also going on. The additional finding for Aged Care Health IT seems like a good plan.

Another blog will collect the reactions to date on the new funding



Privacy concerns won’t stymie e-health uptake: NSW Health

Privacy shouldn't be confused with security

Rodney Gedda (CIO) 14/05/2010 05:52:00

People concerned about the privacy implications of a move to transferable electronic health and medical records should not be dissuaded by doubt as the benefits outweigh potential drawbacks, according to health industry executives.

Dr Tim Smyth, deputy director-general of NSW Health, said it is very interesting times in NSW as the state is “beavering on” with the rollout of electronic medical records and is undertaking a business case for the provision of an electronic prescribing service.

Smyth is adamant privacy concerns around electronic medical records are overstated and can lead to unnecessary concerns.

“I’ve never seen privacy as an obstacle and it’s often used as an excuse by some players not to do anything,” Smyth said.

“Healthelink in NSW was all opt-in and about 90,000 people are using it. Only a small percentage have left the service.”

Note: this is wrong. Healthelink was opt-out NOT opt-in.



Easyclaim uptake climbs despite end of incentives

14th May 2010

PRACTICES continue to take on the Medicare Easyclaim system despite cessation of the incentives paid to practices to use it.

Under a transitional support package, practices were being offered up to $1000 to install the system and 18 cents for each Medicare claim processed via Easyclaim.

The incentives ended on 31 December, but the number of claims being processed via Easyclaim has continued to climb. During March 2010, 8490 healthcare providers transmitted a patient claim via Medicare Easyclaim compared with 7684 providers in December 2009.



Govt to spend $40m on aged care IT systems

  • Andrew Colley
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 12, 2010 2:04PM

THE federal government will spend nearly $40 million on IT systems to support its plan to take responsibility for aged care service from states and territories.

Budget papers reveal that the Department of Health and Ageing will spend $38.3m over four years on a new national IT system as part of its plan to reform management of Home and Community Care (HACC).

An initial tranche of $20m was expected to be spent establishing the system in the 2011 financial year, the government said.



Doctors blast data system

Terry Deefholts | 12th May 2010

THE electronic medical records (EMR) system meant to streamline hospital data continues to frustrate North Coast doctors more than six months after its installation.

One US study has found software produced by the same company has increased paediatric mortality in one emergency department (ED).

The study, entitled Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE) System, was completed by eight doctors and related to the implementation of a CPOE system (produced by Cerner) in the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2002.



Govt e-health push can help CIOs innovate

Medical providers need to learn from each other

Health industry CIOs have a real opportunity to drive innovation and break down siloes of information in light of the federal government’s allocation of $467 million to electronic health records over the next two years.

Speaking at an AIIA CIO e-health forum in Sydney, CIO of St Vincent’s Health Australia, David Roffe, said one of the most important aspects of e-health is change management.

“Before we put anything in we need to find out how we will change processes,” Roffe said.

Roffe is supportive of the government’s decision to invest more in e-health.

St Vincents has been investing in and developing IT health systems for at least 25 years and has re-written its own patient records system three times.



Expert advises against centralised e-health records

Virginia McMillan vmcmillan@clear.net.nzTuesday 11 May 2010, 4:31pm

New technology that can gather patient data from wherever it is stored

New Zealand is unlikely to find a complete electronic health records system at a price it can afford, warns an Australian GP, research fellow and entrepreneur.

Sam Heard, visiting New Zealand from Darwin to talk with groups interested in health IT, is a founding partner in Australian firm Ocean Informatics, developers of a platform for health-information sharing called openEHR.


Clinics and GPs the first step to e-health: Academic

E-health systems should focus on General Practitioners first, before widening to hospitals and specialists, according to the Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney

Updated: Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has announced an additional $2.2 billion in funding for the Australian health system, bringing the Government's total investment to $7.3 billion over five years, and $23 billion over the next decade. Of the new funding, $467 million will go to voluntary electronic health records.

General practitioners are the first step in implementing an effective e-health system, according to the founder of the Institute of E-Health interest group at Nepean Hospital, Professor Mohamed Khadra.

Khadra, who is also Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney and a urological specialist, told Computerworld Australia that the majority of healthcare took place in the community, and not in hospitals or specialist care.



E-health key to national health reform

By Lisa Banks, IDG News Service

May 11, 2010 04:43 PM ET

IT and healthcare professionals have called for more funding for e-health on the eve of the Federal Budget.

E-health has been the subject of much debate across the healthcare sector. The head of surgery at the University of Sydney, Professor Mohamed Khadra, has witnessed the frustrations of the current health system firsthand. He desribes himself as "a rare blend of doctor" who couples experience in the healthcare industry with a graduate computer degree from Deakin University and a degree in education.

Khadra first realised the lack of technology in the health care industry was an issue back in 1998.



Study casts doubt over net filter support


May 12, 2010 - 10:24AM

As Kevin Rudd attempts to fend off a slump in the Labor's approval rating, evidence is mounting that one of its key initiatives - mandatory internet filtering - may not prove as popular with voters as the government had hoped.

In February a phone survey run by McNair Ingenuity indicated widespread support for the initiative among ordinary voters, but new findings from a study commissioned by the Safer Internet Group indicate that the more parents find out about the proposed filter, the less they support it.

The filter has been mired in controversy since its inception, with internet industry groups, academics and backbench ministers from both sides of government labelling it heavy handed. The US State Department has also raised concerns about the plan.



Budget 2010-11: What's in it for ICT?

e-Health, ePassports, NBN, Centrelink, biosecurity all winners

The Federal Government last night delivered a scaled back budget with the aim of returning it to surplus and reducing debt. So far it’s been described as a ‘no thrills, no frills’ performance. But what’s in it for ICT?

Here are the major winners for ICT in the 2010-11 federal budget:

  • $466.7 million will go to the development of a “personally controlled electronic health records”. The move is being pitched as a “key building block of the National Health and Hospitals Network”.
  • The National Broadband Network (NBN) has already funds allocated, but last night the Government also tipped in $12.9 million to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and $2.1 million to the Department of Finance and Deregulation to help with policy and regulatory measures, contract oversight and management of NBN Co shares.
  • On the mandatory ISP-level filter, the Government said it "will reallocate existing cyber‑safety funding of $40.8 million available over five years and provide additional ongoing funding of $3.0 million per annum". It restated its plan to introduce legislatin to require all ISPs to run a filter of refused classification material hosted on overseas servers.



Queensland Health payroll team unprepared for problems


May 11, 2010 - 6:40AM

A preliminary report into Queensland Health's payroll bungle shows the team responsible for the new pay system was unprepared for problems.

And Premier Anna Bligh says anyone subsequently found accountable for the blunder - another two reports are to be prepared - will be dealt with.



CSIRO develops software solution for NEHTA to assist in SNOMED CT-AU uptake

11 May 2010. CSIRO researchers at the Australian E-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) have developed a software tool, Snapper™, for the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) designed to assist the healthcare sector adopt SNOMED CT-AU*. SNOMED CT-AU is considered the most comprehensive, multilingual clinical healthcare terminology in the world and the preferred terminology for Australia.

“The way patient clinical information is captured and shared by healthcare providers is vital to improving the quality and safety of healthcare delivery and is fundamental to the success of e-health in Australia,” said NEHTA Chief Terminologist Paul Frosdick.



Vic budget heralds IT spending drop

By Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum on May 10th, 2010

analysis In past years, appendix A of Budget Paper Number 3 has been essential reading for those eager to learn about the Victorian Government's procurement intentions regarding major operational transformation and IT projects.

$650 million of funding for IT projects over four years in the 2005/06 budget. $525m in 2006/07. $120m in 2007/08. $460m in 2008/09. $400m in 2009/10.

Past budgets have accumulated a rolling four-year funding portfolio that peaked with a total of around $500m of commitment in the 2008/09 year to major new IT-enabled transformation programs such as public transport ticketing, train and bus systems, HealthSmart, the Ultranet, VicSmart fibre to schools, major systems development projects in Justice and Police plus a range of smaller projects across the other portfolios.



Budget must address e-health funding shortfall

Tuesday, 11 May 2010 | Rachael Bolton


Fears over e-health budget blind-spot

Analysts and the health industry are concerned the federal government won’t give the right level of support for electronic health services, which would greatly improve efficiency.



E-health plan needs $1.6bn in funding

THE health technology sector is hoping for about $1.6 billion in today's budget, but will be happy to get $200 million to $300m to fund real e-health programs.

While disappointed health IT was ignored in the national health reform program, industry leaders are quietly hopeful "a decent chunk of money" will be on offer.

Deloitte partner and National E-Health Strategy lead author Adam Powick said it would cost about $1.6bn over four years to implement the strategy.



Study blasts lack of commitment to e-health

E-HEALTH programs could cut healthcare spending by 3 per cent annually, saving at least $7.6 billion in 2020 alone, according to a Booz & Co study released last week.

The firm has developed a global e-health investment modelling tool and used publicly available information to come up with its findings -- the first time a comprehensive benefits/cost comparison has been possible.

"Commitment to a full e-health program now could help save an estimated 5000 lives annually, once the system is fully operational," the Optimising E-Health Value report says.

"Furthermore, more than 2 million primary care and outpatient visits could be avoided each year, along with 500,000 emergency department visits and 310,000 hospital admissions.



Lifeline for e-health talks

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 10, 2010 5:50PM

THE federal Health Department is "finalising a commitment" to the medical software industry over the troubled Healthcare Identifiers project as crisis talks continue today.

Chief executives from more than 60 leading firms flew into Sydney to meet with Health officials in a bid to resolve outstanding technical issues before the HI service commences operation.

Medical Software Industry Association president Geoffrey Sayer said the plan was to help the Rudd government meet its July 1 deadline.



Robbed of identity, now she must change her name


May 15, 2010

Carmela Grande can trace the moment she lost her identity. It was the last week of October 2007. Now, in a battle to regain it, she is about to give up her name.

Her nightmare started in October 2007. After a few days away, she had no mail waiting for her. It was unusual, but she blamed a post office redirection error.

About four weeks later, about $25,000 had disappeared from her account after fraudsters had changed her mailing address and applied for new bank cards. They had stolen her mail from a locked letterbox and created fake IDs, using her name and birthday and someone else's photo.



IT industry to profit from public service reform

BIG-BANG, big-ticket items such as the $2 billion digital education revolution project could be missing from today's budget, but there are signs the federal government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to improve citizen engagement, which would see the IT industry as the main beneficiary.

Industry players have been expecting a relatively low-key budget for the IT industry and were surprised to learn that all 28 recommendations in Terry Moran's blueprint for Australian Public Service reform had been accepted.

The 96-page report was prepared by the Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration, led by Mr Moran, secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.



Discover the Model Healthcare Community

See how the Healthcare Identifier works. A tour through the Model Health Community is a chance to understand the potential of e-health to the Australian health sector and talk face-to-face with the people behind the development of national e-health.

There are five simulation stations in the Model Healthcare Community led by knowledge experts from the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and Medicare Australia (the HI Service Operator). They paint a picture of what the health system would be like once vendors adopt their health IT software solutions to use healthcare identifiers. The five simulation areas represent a clinical reception, a general practice, a hospital, a pharmacy, and a clinical specialist.



What's fast in theory and will cost a big bundle?

COMING soon to your home by overhead cable from a nearby telegraph pole: the Rudd government's state-of-the-art scheme to build the communications revolution.

This is the glimpse Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gave us of his vision for the government's $43 billion high-speed national broadband network when he finally unveiled the implementation study on the project last week.

It involves 55 per cent of the 10 million premises to be cabled being connected above ground, and 45 per cent through underground ducting.



Telstra Bill will finally make it to the Senate tomorrow

Telstra may finally see structural separation, according to a bill set to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow

The Federal Government will introduce a Bill that aims to structurally separate Telstra to the Senate on Wednesday.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009, which communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy flagged would be tabled last week, targets three issues:

  • Concerns about Telstra's monopolistic behaviour
  • Access and anti-competitive conduct regimes
  • Consumer safeguard measures such as Universal Service Obligation (USO), Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) and priority assistance.

The Bill, according to an Explanatory memorandum, will enhance competition in the telco industry while also strengthening consumer rights surrounding misconduct.



Neanderthal lives in us all

IT was expected to be a ruling on rival models of human evolution, written in a code of billions of letters. But an analysis of the draft Neanderthal genome sequence, published last week, has widened the dispute over our ancestry.

Opposing camps are claiming support for their theories in the celebrated cavemen's DNA.

Attention is returning to Australian Aborigines and fossils of Indonesian Home erectus for evidence to settle the long-running dispute over human origins and dispersal.





Anonymous said...

Seems the promise of new e-health money is flushing out lots of newly minted 'experts' who were missing in the trenches over the last decade! Most amusing.

Might be a nice profit in selling patented BS detectors for those who will have the money but not the expertise to differentiate between the self declared expert and the actual one. Especially as the self declared expert is likely to have a nicer suit and speak proper.

It has always been thus ....

Anonymous said...

Dr Smyth is wrong on other counts, not just his assertion that Health-Link is opt-in. One would suggest he should read his own departments public report into the HealtheLink project:


90,000 people using Health-e-Link. More like 90,000 patients with some record on the system.

The recent audit report showed that:
Actually 6.5% of people opted out, a not insignificant percentage.

"Some health service participants felt that the level of access by health professionals was too broad, and sensitive information should be able to be concealed"

Between 95% and 98% of the records were not accessed during the period of the pilot (about 3 years!!)

Clinical users logged on between 1 and 4 times per month

The report doesn't make clear how much money has been spent on HealtheLink but as of 2007 (when it had been running for five years), it had already cost $19.5 million. A reasonable guess would be that it's cost something like $25million by now.

So if 2% to 5% of the records are actually accessed, by clinicians using the system between once a month and 4 times a month, and it's cost us about $25million: I'd estimate we've spent about $8000 per patient for that information to be available for the occasional interaction.

Wow, hardly an impressive payback.

Of course, the report doesn't deliver that clear conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:40:00 PM gives an accurate appraisal of Health-e-Link. He, like just about everyone else that passes opinions, logs comments, mumbles, criticizes and complains about this appalling state of affairs and extraordinary waste of money seems helpless to effect change or improve the situation prevailing.

Apart from the views expressed by Dr More on this blog and the recommendations of Deloitte in their National eHealth Strategy Report and the occasional public contributor of articles to this blog no-one else has come forward that I can see, including Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:40:00 PM , to contribute their constructive, balanced, objective, opionions about what should be done to improve the way ehealth is dealt with by those who have been given the onerous responsibility of spending hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars to no avail on a repetitive saga of failed projects year after year for almost a decade. As a consequence the only option is to continue as before!! "Wow, hardly an impressive payback".