Sunday, August 01, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 01 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 payment.

General Comment:


The Nielsen Poll in the Fairfax Press seems to be making it clear that the Coalition is in with a chance. From our perspective this means that clarity of just what they plan in the e-Health space becomes even more important – as does a credible and adequately detailed explanation of just what Labor wants to do.

I have to say I am also concerned about the superficiality and lack of content in the current political debate.

It seems to me it is also about time we started to worry about some of the bigger issues:

See here:

Epoch-changing times?

The distinguished historian Niall Ferguson believes we are living through epoch-changing times when the West will give way to the East, particularly China -- although he thinks in the longer run, India will come through even more strongly.

Should Australians consider more how they fit in to these epic events, so close to us?

Those contributing were:

Niall Ferguson

Professor of History, Harvard and of Business Administration Harvard Business School Has been an advisor to the British PM, David Cameron.

Richard McGregor

Author and Senior Editor Financial Times

Professor Michael Wesley

Head of the Lowy Institute Historian and former analyst with the Office of National Assessments

The implications of all this, for all of us, makes e-Health seems largely irrelevant – loath though I am to say it!

Our political leaders are fussing about the equivalent of the quality of our curbs and guttering while the entire city is under threat.

It is really worth the half hour to understand what we face over the next 20-30 years!

Again, sadly, a pox on both their houses is sadly my view both in the macro and the micro!


Wheels of progress slow to turn on reform cart

July 29, 2010

It takes years for improvements to have a noticeable impact, writes Mark Metherell.

Health reform seemed such a fine idea three years ago. Way back then the Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, promised a ''historic'' overhaul for the groaning health system, including a federal funding takeover if state governments did not fall into line on a revamp.

Now Rudd has fallen, the federal takeover has gone into reverse and despite promises to end blame-shifting and duplication, there will be more layers of bureaucracy.

Public hospital queues and waiting times show little real sign of decline; health care outside hospitals remains hostage not only to a shortage of doctors in many areas but also to a lack of co-ordinated care for people with chronic diseases.

All of this while gaping gaps in services plague patients relying on meagre public service for dental and mental care.


Queensland hospital cuts reporting time with speech recognition

Software reduces human error

Nambour General Hospital on Queensland's Sunshine Coast has cut average report turnaround times by 28 hours and reduced the time needed to create radiology reports by 85 per cent thanks to the deployment of speech recognition software.

Director of medical imaging services at Nambour, David Ward, said the hospital deployed the technology due to a shortage of radiologists and long waiting times for simple reports to be compiled.

“Public radiology in Queensland is faced with a shortage of Radiologists to do the reporting; which had led to significant delays in our report turnaround times. In the past, some reports would take six to seven days to be produced,” Ward said.


Victoria to build own e-health product catalogue

The data repository on medicines and health devices will support the move to a national e-health service

The Victorian Government is to shortly progress to the third phase in its implementation of the National e-health Transition Authority’s (NeHTA) national product catalogue.

The catalogue is intended to be the source and main repository of data for public health institutions seeking to purchase medicines, medical devices and other healthcare items.

The first phase, conducted in late 2008 saw the creation of a common Victorian product catalogue to be populated and updated from the national catalogue.

The second phase, conducted in 2009, piloted the use of the national catalogue and confirmed the model tested in phase as the preferred model for Victorian catalogue implementation.



July 30, 2010

A roundup of companies making waves at home and abroad

Smart Health Solutions

SMART HEALTH SOLUTIONS specialises in Web-based shared electronic health record (SEHR) and online condition and chronic disease information management. The company implements secure Web technologies to allow cross-sector sharing of relevant clinical data by multidisciplinary teams. Smart Health has implementations in both the public and private health sectors in NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.

Note: A check of the web-site shows very little current information. It badly needs an update!


Pharmacists set to log adverse events

27th Jul 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

PHARMACISTS could soon be reporting adverse medication events for the first time, with the planned rollout of a new software system.

Called PROMISe, the software will allow pharmacists to log all adverse reactions that patients report to them, and this data will then be collated at a central repository where it can be analysed to identify problematic scenarios.

Pharmacists would also be prompted to refer patients with certain symptoms back to their GPs.The data will be used to educate pharmacists, GPs and consumers about high-risk adverse events.


It’s a fine line between health and stealth

Norton Rose

Bernard O'Shea


July 26 2010

Almost without public comment the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act) came into effect on 29 June 2010. It paves the way for Australian individuals and healthcare providers to be allocated unique 16 digit “healthcare identifiers” and for information linked to that number to be collected, stored and disseminated. Given the scope of the powers under the Act, and the obvious concerns it raises for privacy, the Act has attracted surprisingly little attention.

The Act allows the service operator (which will initially be Medicare Australia) to assign healthcare identifiers to both healthcare providers and recipients. The service operator is not required to consider the consent of the healthcare identifier recipient. Further, it allows the service operator to collect data from Medicare, the Veterans’ Affairs Department and the Defence Department to create a record about that person or healthcare provider.


iPads infiltrate hospitals

  • From: AAP
  • July 29, 2010 7:44AM

VICTORIAN doctors and nurses could be equipped with iPads while undertaking their hospital rounds in future, if a trial of wireless technology is successful.

From January next year, 500 graduate doctors, nurses and advanced practice nurses would be given iPads to use when treating patients in hospital, Health Minister Daniel Andrews said.

The iPads would connect to safe wireless networks within the hospitals, without interrupting sensitive electronic equipment.


Apple a day for doctors


July 30, 2010

TECHNOLOGY-STARVED doctors and nurses will be armed with Apple iPads as part of a trial to improve internet access in Victorian hospitals.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews yesterday announced that 500 iPads would be sent to graduate doctors and nurses in January. If the $500,000 pilot program goes well, the devices could be used more widely.

''The iPads will allow doctors and nurses to access any web-enabled application run by their hospital as they move around the hospital, as well as allowing them to tap into health information resources,'' Mr Andrews said.


Problems reported at Morecambe Bay

29 Jul 2010

Staff and patients at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust are reporting issues with the Lorenzo electronic patient record system that went live at the start of June.

At a board meeting last Wednesday, staff side representative Kirk Panter said staff were having problems adapting to and using the software.

He said: “I have heard from employees that some staff are having to stay behind an extra two hours after their shift just to put data into the system.”

Comments published on the North West Evening News website suggest patients have also experienced problems.


Darent Valley gets iSoft A&E system

28 Jul 2010

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has replaced its ten year old Ascribe A&E system with iSoft’s latest A&E system.

The new software, which went live on 6 July as part of a three year contract, can be integrated with the trust's iSoft hospital information system.

This will allow all clinical staff at its main, 460-bed hospital in Dartford, Kent, to order radiology and pathology tests online.

Leslieann Osborn, the trust’s assistant director of service development, said: “With A&E accounting for 30% of all hospital orders for pathology and radiology tests, it is vital to have reliable order communications. That demands seamless integration of A&E, HIS, pathology and radiology.


WHO and IHTSDO strive for harmonisation of health information

22 July 2010. The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) announces a collaborative arrangement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to harmonise WHO classifications and SNOMED CT®*.

WHO classifications are used to capture information on diseases, disability, interventions and other indicators of population health. SNOMED CT is a standardised health terminology that represents clinical concepts in a consistent manner.

When used together appropriately, they make it easier to summarise information from individuals patients’ health records into aggregate results needed for health policy, health services management, and research. The aim is to avoid duplication of effort and reduce cost and to improve speed, consistency, and availability of information.

The full press release is located at


Election offers voters stark choices

IT Policy - Government Tech Policy

Voters face “stark choices” in terms of the IT&T policies that Labor and the Coalition are taking to the federal election according to CSC Australia’s chief technology and innovation officer, Bob Hayward.

Chairing the Council for Australian Economic Development’s (CEDA) Digital Economies conference in Sydney today, Hayward said that the key issue was the “philosophical difference in funding the National Broadband Network.” While this has been a central plank for Labor since it came to power, the Coalition has indicated it would be scrapped were it elected to Government on August 21.

Hayward also pointed to the quite different approaches the parties were taking to e-health and policing the internet.

“In my opinion far too much of the debate has been … limited by what we do online today rather than in the future,” said Hayward. He questioned whether it was better to spend $1 billion on new hospital beds today, or $1 billion on digital infrastructure to deliver savings that would allow $2 billion to be spent on hospital beds in the future.

CSC, which sponsored the CEDA event, will on Thursday release the findings of a major poll of Australians’ attitudes toward e-health which could prove a pre-election bombshell depending on what it reveals.


E-health: change is inevitable

Published on Tue, 27/07/2010, 09:48:40

An information technology expert has advised the aged care sector to put its e-health aspirations on the back burner and adopt a more passive approach until after the election.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s national leader for technology, Adam Powick, spoke about the national e-health strategy and his view on the way forward at the Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference in Melbourne.

Mr Powick reminded the audience that even though Tony Abbott has said he does not support the scheme, it was he who introduced e-health to the political sphere as a health minister in the Howard government.

Because of this, Mr Powick believes e-health will become popular with both political parties again once the election is over and attention returns to the ‘real issues’.

He said, it was wise “not to move aggressively” on the issue until after the election.

“We will move forward under either government but it will be under a different guise,” Mr Powick said.


E-health: slow and steady wins the race

Published on Tue, 27/07/2010, 09:36:16

Even though Australia may look as though it is dragging its feet when it comes to electronic health reform, slow and steady could well win the race.

The rate of progress in developing an e-health network was one of the main topics of discussion on the first day of the Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference in Melbourne.

The CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), Peter Fleming, justified the long implementation period, saying advances must be taken in small steps now to avoid large mistakes in the future.


Smart houses key to keeping the elderly at home

SMART houses equipped with movement sensors and intelligent systems are the key to keeping aged people well and living in their own homes.

A new report, Smart technology for Healthy Longevity, says enormous health and safety benefits can be gained using existing wireless systems along with new "gerontechnologies".

"Elderly-friendly smart homes use built-in systems for movement detection, fall prevention, home diagnostic equipment, medication management and simple communication devices for linking to family and support networks," it says.

"But there is confusion over standards and connectivity as different sectors approach the market from different viewpoints.


Hi-tech homes 'a must' for seniors in future

  • By Greg Thom
  • From: Herald Sun
  • July 26, 2010 2:15AM

AUSTRALIA'S ageing population may be forced to rely on science fiction solutions ranging from artificial molecular muscles to sensors that detect the composition of food and drugs, if they want to live independent lives at home.

A new report on the nation's growing elderly army released yesterday, found homes of the future would need to be custom-fitted with such emerging new technologies, to cope with the nation's burgeoning number of seniors.

As many as 7.7 million Australians will be aged over 65 and a further 1.8 million over 85 by 2050.


Labor to force people to connect to broadband

July 30, 2010 - 9:26AM

Labor will compel customers to connect to upgraded broadband services unless they specifically request otherwise.

Confirming an increase in the coverage of its national broadband network, Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy said he would support a rollout where people were automatically connected to the network unless they chose to opt out of it.

This would boost take-up rates.

''We believe that the most efficient way to deliver that service is to have that process,'' he said.





Anonymous said...

So doctors rightly complain about the quality of their access to clinical information, the rollout of HealthSmart and the availability of adequate computing technology for patient care and education.

The response: the health minister gives pays them off with 500 shiny new iPads, and they jump for joy. Crap data, dangerous ancient systems, but a shiny cool iPad for keeping in touch with their mates on Facebook and tweeting about last night's party and it's all ok again. Now who's worse - the doctors or the politicians? If only it were that easy to really fix things.

Anonymous said...

Sadly you have got it right - 500 new toys for doctors to twitter between themselves. Daniel Andrews is a pretty smart Health Minister - it's most odd he should have let himself get conned so easily.

Anonymous said...

Ha! and here was me thinking they would be used as portable devices to record patient's bowel movements...

Anonymous said...

... very messy.

Anonymous said...

But if you can't have access to an EHR or an EMR, then you might just have to make do and find information about your patient on facebook (photo id, date of birth, next of kin, drug and alcohol consumption, recent events leading to depression - 'no longer in a relationship'...). All we need to do is add a blood group and perhaps some allergy information. It'll do until nehta get something together. And it free!!!!! Twitter can be useful also: "does anyone know where the machine that goes ping went?" Patients can twitter also, and if clinical teams are following their twitter, then easy patient tracking can be achieved - Also free!