Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 22 August, 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 subscription payment.

General Comment:

Well all I can say is that bigger forces are now in play and we will now simply need to see how it plays out before any possible impact on e-Health in OZ becomes apparent.

Those in the know say it will be a week or so before things become clear – so for now I think we will just wrap up the news and await events! The fate of the promises from both sides now seem to be in limbo.

I just checked out the policy from the Greens – and as far as I can tell no mention at all of e-Health. (The site lacks a search function I can find)

I wonder what that might mean?

I popped in a non e-Health article at the bottom just to allow us all to keep some perspective on things.


Reality of national e-health moves fall short of promises

LABOR came into office with Health Minister Nicola Roxon promising to put e-health back on the agenda. She has failed.

What we have got is a healthcare identity number for every resident, but it will be years before doctors can even access the number, except by phone, let alone use it in any meaningful way.

Ms Roxon may have learned you can't make software work by waving a ministerial direction, but there's not much else to show for $98 million.

Medicare has assigned a 16-digit unique identifier against every record in its database -- surely a very straightforward IT task -- and as a result may, over time, clean up its dirty data.

Failure to consult means software developers are only now beginning to build interfaces with the system -- which has never been tested in the real world.

The twin healthcare provider identifier system is in meltdown -- with the process reportedly plagued with errors -- long before it expands to capture the details of some 500,000 never-before registered allied providers.

Right now, it can't even deal with the smaller number of GPs and specialists who are well-known through professional processes. Work hasn't even begun on the separate identifier for health IT service providers -- cobbled together because existing services had been overlooked in the regulations.

The key control system, the National Authentication Service for Health, is yet to appear on the starting blocks.

Note: This is a long article that is well worth a read – I would be interested in reactions to what is being said – now we are post election and in limbo!


Telemedicine gets a healthy prognosis

  • Adam Cresswell, Health Editor
  • From: The Australian
  • August 17, 2010 12:00AM

DOCTORS are providing about 2200 online consultations a year through the University of Queensland's Centre for Online Health in Brisbane.

The centre, which uses video to link specialists to patients thousands of kilometres away, is one of a handful in the country that have the facilities, and its services are only possible because the doctors at the centre and with the patient are paid a salary by Queensland Health, which also funds the technology involved.

The centre's deputy director, Anthony Smith, predicts the number of online consultations will jump if Labor wins the election and releases its promised funding for online consultations from July 1 next year.


Labor unveils e-health records trial sites

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 17, 2010 4:27PM

LABOR will rely on a Howard government e-health project to kickstart its $467 million personally controlled e-health records strategy.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has confirmed GP Partners in Brisbane, GP Access in the NSW Hunter Valley and Melbourne East will receive $12.5 million in total funding to act as pilot sites over the next two years.

The Australian today revealed the three GP divisions had been selected as lead implementation sites, under a project led by the National E-Health Transition Authority.

Ms Roxon said the three lead sites "will be at the cutting edge of cyber-health advances".

They will also trial the new healthcare identifiers regime, and will be first to electronically send hospital discharge summaries and referrals using national specifications, she said.

The Queensland government has already committed $1.2m in in-kind support to GP Partners, while NSW will commit the same amount for the Hunter trial.


Immunisation register and incentives needed

by Jared Reed

The costs of creating and maintaining a whole of life immunisation register would be made more affordable by the move towards e-health, and should therefore proceed, says the AMA.

The register would allow GPs and other health professionals to know for certain which vaccines a patient had received over their lifetime, and would avoid wastage by duplication. It would also provide important data about herd immunity, says AMA vice president Dr Steve Hambleton.

“What GPs are missing ... is a mechanism for confirming immunisation status for anyone over the age of eight,” he told the National Immunisation Conference from the Public Health Association of Australia in Adelaide today.


Some clever ideas we should steal from the US

, by Croakey

I’ve written an analysis of health election debate and policy, which has been published today at ABC’s The Drum. It draws upon some of the discussion that Croakey has been hosting in recent weeks. Thanks to all those who have been contributing.

Also a particular thanks to Associate Professor Mavis Duncanson at Notre Dame University in Sydney, who suggested that this election manifesto from the Public Health Association of NZ might be a useful starting point for such an analysis.

Meanwhile, in part 13 of our election series, health policy analyst Dr Lesley Russell, looks at where Australia can learn from the US on health reform. This post is from a speech given at the Australian Financial Review’s national health conference on August 17.

This post is considerably longer than Croakey’s usual offerings but I thought it worth leaving in all the detail. I hope you find it informative…




e-Pathology aims to enable a nationally endorsed consistent and secure exchange of pathology information across the healthcare sector in an agreed approach using standardised formats.


NEHTA is working with the healthcare sector to understand current technologies, business processes and standards to develop agreed specifications or guidelines to align systems across the sector.


e-Pathology facilitates the development of a national approach to pathology services creating more effective, efficient and safer patient care. This national approach will also promote greater continuity of care and enable increased responsiveness across the pathology sector.


Medtech scores NZ e-health project

ASX-listed e-health provider Medtech Global Limited (ASX:MDG) has secured a $1 million deal to provide software for an “important national health project” for New Zealand's Ministry of Health.

The tender, the details of which have remained commercial-in-confidence, would see Medtech’s New Zealand subsidiary and New Zealand Post subsidiary, Datam, jointly provide software and services for a minimum seven years with a potential three year extension. Datam will provide support, maintenance and development throughout the project.


e-health just like online banking: Roxon

By Josh Taylor, on August 19th, 2010

Accessing your personal electronic health record via an online portal in 2012 will be just like using online banking, according to Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

"The actual design is still to be developed but the easiest way to think of this is to think about online banking, with clear information like allergies and medications upfront," she said during an online chat on The Australian's website this afternoon. "But you control access and information is very secure."

Labor has allocated $466.7 million in this year's Federal budget to deliver e-health over the next two years. Earlier this year Roxon set the deadline for the portal to be ready by July 2012. She said today that a patient portal used by GP partners in Brisbane could be the prototype for the national system.


Live Q&A with Nicola Roxon

  • Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 18, 2010 4:40PM

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon has been driving Labor's e-health agenda as part of the government's wider health reform ambitions.

In December 2006, the Labor member for Gellibrand became opposition health spokeswoman and retained the portfolio when Labor won office in 2007.

She's backing a personally controlled e-health records framework expected to come to fruition by 2012 at a cost of $467 million.

Read the Q&A from this link.


Coalition eyes 'ID card'

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 20, 2010 12:13PM

THE loathed Coalition health and welfare Access Card is suddenly back on the agenda.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey is proposing to use the mandatory new healthcare identifiers to monitor people on benefits.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hockey said the idea was not Coalition policy, but would be considered by an Abbott government.


Coalition confused over national ID card

By Darren Pauli, on August 20th, 2010

The Liberal Party is in a state of confusion over whether it would deploy national identifiers to keep tabs on people receiving health and welfare benefits, should it win government.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey told The Age today that the failure of the Howard Government's Access Card had been his biggest political regret and that he would "absolutely" re-introduce a similar scheme should his party win the election. The scheme would require "fair dinkum consolidation" of government IT agencies.

"Whether you go a card or not, I don't know. Everyone has a Medicare card already, but that's old technology. We're spending $140 billion to $150 billion a year on health and welfare, but what productivity improvements have there been in service delivery? None," Hockey told The Age.


Surgically enhanced screensaver: telemedicine

FOR some stroke victims it really does matter if you're in a big city or out bush.

That's because doctors have a short three-hour window to determine if a stroke was caused by a blood clot blocking an artery or a bleed into brain tissue.

If it's a blockage, they can administer a clot-dissolving drug, improving the odds of a good recovery.

Clearly, patients arriving in a metropolitan hospital have a good chance of getting a prompt diagnosis and on-time medication. But patients in regional and rural hospitals face a different outcome.


iSOFT launches eprescribing system in UK

16 August 2010

iSOFT Group has launched an eprescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) system in the UK

The system is already in use at ten hospitals in Australia and across six district health boards in New Zealand and has been adapted for the UK market with drug database provider First DataBank.

iSOFT says it is close to finalising deals with a number of NHS trusts to become early adopters.

The system offers a drug formulary and decision-support rules engine to stop drugs being wrongly prescribed and so shorten hospital stays. It will also streamline processes such as discharge, reduce re-admission rates, and cut costs.


'Ample' rebates offset by savings

  • Adam Cresswell, Health editor
  • From: The Australian
  • August 19, 2010 12:00AM

THE federal government has defended the cost-effectiveness of its "generous" new rebates for video consultations due to start next year.

It says the program's near $400 million cost will be partly offset by patients being kept healthier.

Payments for doctors taking part in the online consultations, which have not been covered previously by Medicare except in a few areas such as psychiatry, are likely to be two to three times the value of rebates for face-to-face encounters.

Under the $392.3m package, announced by Julia Gillard on Monday, $250m is allocated for online consultations for Australians living in rural and outer metropolitan areas.


Doctors wary about online house calls

Jacob Saulwick and Mark Metherell

August 17, 2010

GENERAL practice leader Rob Walters says he has been able to diagnose the skin ailments of far-flung relatives with the help of images sent by Skype or mobile phone - which he says highlights the potential of telemedicine.

But Dr Walters, the former chairman of the Australian Divisions of General Practice, and the e-health advocate Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, says Labor's plan to support online consultations and video-conferencing covered by Medicare within two years is ambitious, given the technical and privacy snags which have impeded e-health in Australia. The $392 million announcement, the centrepiece of Labor's campaign launch yesterday, brings to more than $800 million the amount Labor is pledging to spend over four years on new health technology and personal electronic health records.

''It is disturbing to me, it is unacceptable to me, it is offensive to me that if you live in rural or regional Australia you are three times more likely to die within five years if you are diagnosed with cancer than other Australians,'' the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, told the Labor campaign launch yesterday.


Online consult plan a big ask: Haikerwal


By Michael East

Labor’s plan to introduce Medicare rebates for online consultations from July next year will require a “mammoth effort” to iron out privacy and security issues, e-health expert Dr Mukesh Haikerwal warns.

Labor yesterday outlined the $392.3 million package which will provide financial incentives for GPs to deliver online services and introduce Medicare rebates for online consultations in rural and remote areas from July next year.


Labor ties e-health to broadband

Jacob Saulwick

August 17, 2010

PATIENTS in rural and regional areas will have greater access to online consultations with specialists under a re-elected Gillard government, which has promised $392.3 million for a package of e-health policies.

The policies, the only ones announced by either Labor or the Coalition at their respective campaign launches, make a strong link between two issues the government is eager to campaign on: health and the national broadband network.

''It is disturbing to me, it is unacceptable to me, it is offensive to me that if you live in rural or regional Australia you are three times more likely to die within five years if you are diagnosed with cancer than other Australians,'' Prime Minister Julia Gillard said at Labor's campaign launch yesterday.


Industry welcomes $400m spending for e-health

JULIA Gillard has pedged $400 million to reform Medicare payments and build capacity to provide medical services over the internet.

Labor hopes GPs, nurses and specialists will begin offering online consultations from next July and has allocated $250m in new Medicare rebates.

It estimates this sum will fund nearly 500,000 telehealth sessions in areas with poor access to healthcare over the next three years. There is also $57m in incentives for equipment purchases, to encourage take-up by practitioners.

Ms Gillard says Labor will expand its GP after-hours phone helpline, with $50m for online triage by doctors and nurses using videoconferencing.

Another $35m will go to an online training fund.


Health agencies back Julia Gillard's online consult plan

LEADING health organisations have endorsed Julia Gillard's plan to give rural and regional Australians access to online specialist consultations.

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said in a statement that the $392.3 million investment would help doctors use technology to provide services to patients who would otherwise have limited or no access to them.

"This is a recognition of the need to embrace communications technology to modernise our health system," Dr Pesce said.


ELECTION 2010: Labor commits to rural e-health measures

Published on Mon, 16/08/2010, 03:57:11

By Angela Dorizas

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised to expand Medicare rebates to cover e-health consultations, particularly in rural and regional Australia.

Launching the ALP campaign in Brisbane on Monday, Ms Gillard said the National Broadband Network would transform the delivery of healthcare in regional and rural Australia.

“It is disturbing to me, it’s unacceptable to me, it’s offensive to me, that if you live in rural and regional Australia you are up to three times more likely to die within five years if you are diagnosed with cancer than other Australians,” she said.

“Well, I want to transform that. I want to transform it soon and I want to transform it for the future, relying on the National Broadband Network.”


Updated: NBN to deliver online consultations: Gillard

Fibre-to-the-home network essential in delivering healthcare to regional and rural Australia, PM claims

Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has used the Labor Party’s official campaign launch to link the future health of Australians with the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Speaking in Queensland, Gillard said the Government would use the speed and connectivity of the NBN to facilitate online consultations between patients and doctors via videoconferencing.

The $392.3 million initiative would see Medicare rebates issued from 1 July 2012 for some 495,000 online consultation services over four years to rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas.


Gillard stakes political future on broadband and health at Labor launch

  • Patricia Karvelas, Political Correspondent
  • From: The Australian
  • August 16, 2010 12:45PM

JULIA Gillard has vowed to transform the health system by allowing rural and regional Australians to see specialists using videoconferencing and online consultations.

Linking her national broadband network to the health of Australians, the Prime Minister said that from July 1 2012 Australians would have access to rebates to see doctors through the internet as part of a $392.3 million investment.

Ms Gillard said in the middle of the night a parent with a child with swelling or rash would be able to get help through the power of broadband access to the internet.


NSW Health moving to single payroll

Web-based salary packaging solution will replace multiple manual and electronic health sector systems

NSW Health is considering the consolidation of its multiple salary packaging solutions into a standard state-wide salary packaging solution.

The new salary system will be hosted by a vendor partner and accessible by NSW Health staff from a Web browser for a period up to five years.

According to NSW Government documents, various health services within the NSW Health system provide a salary packaging service to employees either internally by the Health Service or by an external vendor.


Lastly to keep things in perspective we have:

No stopping universe's expansion

August 21, 2010

LONDON: The universe will continue to expand forever, scientists have concluded in a new study that sheds light on one of the greatest astronomical mysteries, dark energy.

The international team of scientists, led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Observatory's Very Large Telescope to narrow in on what they believe comprises dark energy, which pushes the universe apart at an ever-increasing speed. Astronomers are unable to say what the mysterious force, discovered in 1998, is, except that it is invisible and makes up 72 per cent of the universe.

About 24 per cent of the universe is thought to be dark matter - also mysterious but easier to study than dark energy because of its gravitational influence.

The rest, a mere 4 per cent, is made of the material that makes up planets, stars and everything made up of atoms.

The scientists concluded the distribution of dark energy would mean the universe would never stop growing. Their research, published in the journal Science, also found the universe would eventually become a dead and cold wasteland.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing what promises an election can create. Telemedicine has been used in Queensland since the mid 90's but consultations have not been subject to medicare rebates. This is why it has not been used more, not because of an NBN! $43b will have the government declaring bankruptcy if not careful. I just wish there was more common sense in politics!