Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 29 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, it seems we remain in political limbo, with uncertainty surrounding all sorts of policy directions.

It has been pleasing to see health and general and e-Health seems firmly back on the agenda.

As an example we see here:

Rural services now in spotlight

Mark Metherell

August 24, 2010

Country people are more likely to die from cancer, may wait four weeks to see a doctor and get a lower share of Medicare spending.

Despite their plight, their needs failed to draw national attention during the election campaign.

That changed dramatically on Saturday night, says rural health spokesman Gordon Gregory. He said yesterday he had heard more about rural health as a political issue in the preceding 40 hours than in the previous 40 weeks.

That is thanks to the elevation of three country independent MPs who have bemoaned the lack of rural health services and who may now choose the next prime minister.

----- end quote.

The risk, in these rather fraught times, is that we will see less than considered policy emerge. I suggest we be alert to that outcome – but not be alarmed just yet!


Greens back e-health, with strong data security and privacy

THE Greens will support government initiatives on e-health, as long as strong data security and privacy protections are in place.

"If you talk to people in aged care, in Aboriginal and regional health, they are very strongly supportive of e-health," WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said yesterday.

"So are we. But we do want to make sure that sensitive medical information is protected, and that individuals have control over decision-making (about access).

"We will work with whoever's in government on e-health, to ensure those safeguards are there. And that's very definitely about negotiation, not obstruction."


Politicians as bad as each other on e-health

Round table event hears there is too much focus on the technology, and not enough on healthcare

THE e-health capabilities of the major political parties are “as bad as each other” according to the former chief of the South Australian department of health.

The comments were made at the health informatics conference on Tuesday, when ABC's Tony Jones moderated a roundtable of industry veterans, who discussed a number of issues about e-health including the qualities required to lead a successful project implementation.

The panel comprised of the head of the National e-health transition authority, Peter Fleming, Ernst &Young health and human services lead (former CEO South Australia Department of Health) Jim Birch, author of the independent evaluation report of the NHS summary care record, UK professor Trish Greenhalgh, health informatics society of Australia president professor Michael Legg and technology vendor Intersystems's CEO Professor Stan Capp.


evolution, revolution and NEHTA

2010-August-26 | 08:19 By: Filed in:

There is a wide spectrum of opinion in Australia regarding how e-health should be progressed. At one end of this spectrum we have the proponents of national-scale, top-down architected and developed infrastructure, such as exemplified by HealthConnect and by the NEHTA work program. At the other end, we have those who believe that such national-scale, government-run projects are doomed to fail, have been shown to fail around the world, take forever, and cost an order (or several orders) of magnitude more than organically evolving, bottom-up, industry-led alternatives. Where does the truth lie?

Many cite “the internet”, as an example of a successful, complex, evolving ecosystem that was not designed top-down by a government. However, some parts of it were. What is clear, is that the internet’s success is based on many soundly engineered components. These components are based on standards, modularity, clear separation of concerns, ease of implementability, relatively simple conformance requirements, and well tested implementations. This notion of soundly engineered components is one that is poorly understood or acknowledged in e-health, but one that needs to be if substantial progress is to be made.


Orion Health launches Rhapsody 4

24 Aug 2010

New Zealand's Orion Health has announced the launch of the latest version of its integration engine, Rhapsody 4.

Orion says the latest version of Rhapsody focuses on providing greater support for the latest industry trends, technologies and standards, including secure web services, already adopted by groups such as HL7 and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise.

Paul de Bazin, Rhapsody product manager said the solution now provides greater support and features for organisations using service oriented architecture (SOA) to solve their integration challenges.

“Healthcare institutions are recognising the value of using integration tools to provide simple, reusable components – but they also require those components to be healthcare specific.”


Online consults: cautious welcome

24th Aug 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

DOCTORS say appropriate guidelines and rebate amounts for online consultations are crucial if Labor’s promised $392 million e-consults investment is to avoid creating perverse incentives for GPs.

Under its pre-election pledge, Labor would provide rebates of up to $100 for GPs treating rural and regional patients via online consultations and video-­conferencing, according to News Ltd reports. This is almost three times the current $34.30 rebate for a level B consult.

However, Labor had not confirmed these rebate amounts as MO went to press.


Low-tech road to crisis: e-health reform

  • AT THE COALFACE: Terry J. Hannan
  • From: The Australian
  • August 28, 2010 12:00AM

CRITICAL e-health reform is being interrupted by the Coalition.

The rest of the world has confirmed that healthcare technologies are essential for reform work.

The Coalition's anti-National Broadband Network stance indicates lack of comprehension of the capability of modern technologies to improve care delivery. And Labor is in an impossible situation caused by technological limitations to its e-health projects. Add to this the non-election. It all brings to mind the 1977 Tenerife air disaster in which two airliners collided on a runway. Investigators found that loss of cognitive efficiency, high autonomic arousal and loss of communication accuracy led to multiple small errors, culminating in the disaster.


Concerns held for funding of e-health trials

24th Aug 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

A QUEENSLAND division charged with trialling national standards for electronic health records in collaboration with NEHTA has expressed fears the funding could dry up before development work is complete.

Brisbane-based GPpartners – one of three divisions last week charged with trialling the standards – originally established a Health Records Exchange (HRX) system funded by the Howard government’s Cooperative Research Centres program in 2005.

But its deputy chief executive Brett Silvester said he “lives in fear” of short-sighted approaches, having previously seen federal funding for the development of the HRX axed in 2007.


NBN speeds not necessary for healthcare identifier service

But healthcare experts say a more reliable infrastructure would help fast-track healthcare applications

The Labor government's proposed $43 billion national broadband network (NBN) isn't necessary for the rollout of the health record identifiers, according to the head of the National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA).

The comments were made at the health informatics conference on Tuesday, when ABC's Tony Jones moderated an e-health discussion with five industry representatives.

When Jones quizzed the panel about the need for the NBN, NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming said a reliable internet connection – not faster speeds - was the most significant requirement for the implementation of the healthcare identifier service (a system where a unique 16-digit number will be used to electronically link a patient's health records).

In this context, he said it didn't matter whether the reliability was delivered as part of the Labor government's proposed NBN or another project.


Queensland's Mater Hospital leads way on e-health

  • From: AAP
  • August 27, 2010 9:47AM

A PAPERLESS computer monitoring system will help doctors care for premature babies at a Brisbane hospital, in an Australian first.

The Mater Hospital's Neonatal Critical Care Unit has introduced the new BadgerNet system to give medical staff real time access to health records.

It is the first Australian neonatal clinic to use the technology. Director of neonatology Dr David Knight said the system will save time and lives. "Staff have access to electronic prescribing and drug administration systems,'' he said.


Independents push e-health centre stage

27th Aug 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

THE rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and e-health now lie at the heart of negotiations between three Independent MPs, Labor and the Coalition as the two parties jostle to form a minority Government.

As MO went to press the Coalition had won 73 seats, while Labor was just behind on 72 seats – however an additional seat is looking likely for Labor after Greens MP Adam Bandt said he would be inclined to support the party in a hung parliament.

And WA National MP Tony Crook has not yet pledged his support for the Coalition.

Independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter last week continued negotiations with the two major parties as they worked to broker a deal that would benefit their rural and regional constituents.


iSoft targets telehealth market

NHS software supplier iSoft has won a place on the telehealth assistive technologies framework agreement, which should allow the firm to expand its fledgling telehealth division.

The framework agreement is with Buying Solutions, the national procurement organisation for all UK public services, and will facilitate the buying of a wide range of products for public sector contracting authorities.

The agreement is for two years, with the option of two further one-year extensions, and will cover the areas of telecare, telehealth and telecoaching.


iSOFT awarded national telehealth supplier agreement

Wednesday 25th August 2010

The framework agreements facilitate the buying process across a broad range of services and products for UK public sector contracting authorities, saving time, resources and avoiding duplication of effort.

The Telecare, Telehealth and Telecoaching framework agreement is for two years (with the option of two further one year extensions) and covers the purchase, installation, maintenance, monitoring and coaching of telecare and telehealth solutions.

iSOFT entered for tender applications in the areas of telehealth products, telehealth services, telecoaching products and services, and managed services – and the company was successful in all four areas. iSOFT has partnered with Bupa Health Dialog for the category of telecoaching.


Qld Health adopts warehouse management system

New system expected to result in less goods returns and decreased potential for delays to patient care

Queensland Health (QH) is to implement a new warehouse management system at its Central Pharmacy (CP) business unit to improve the efficiency of delivering pharmaceuticals and dental products to all QH hospitals and clinics.

The agency currently uses the enterprise-wide pharmacy software system iPharmacy, supplied and maintained by iSoft to connect all QH pharmacy departments with CP.

According to Queensland Health, all processes within the CP warehouse are completely paper-based where automation ends at the release of a picking list. Dental products also rely on the Pronto application for managing stock order processes.

QH’s Shared Services Partner (SSP) agency, which supplies clinical consumables and as part of QH’s Supply Chain Management Integration Strategy (SCMIS) Project, will also benefit from the new system.


Trial for stroke victims: telemedical services

Stroke patients will be next to benefit from the expansion of acute telemedical services in a Victorian trial.

The plan is to give doctors in Bendigo Hospital immediate access to Melbourne-based neurologists using wireless videoconferencing, so patients who would benefit from a life-saving drug can be identified quickly.

Project leader and head of neurology for Eastern Health Christopher Bladin says stroke victims in rural and regional hospitals who need the blood-clot buster tPA generally miss out.


Net value adds to medical education: surgery over the web

A SIMPLE idea to broadcast surgery live over the internet has sparked a medical education revolution.

It will benefit specialists conducting rare or complex operations as well as under-resourced doctors in remote locations.

Surgeon and internet entrepreneur Andrew Renaut says his videosurgery live and on-demand webcasts, accessible to medical professionals only via a secure site, are just the start.

"For the first time, surgeons and surgical trainees can watch a whole range of rare or advanced procedures," he says.


Opinion: The Filter is dead, but it'll be back

National security imperatives will ensure some kind of net filter will be on the agenda in future

The Greens' success over the weekend in cementing their hold on the balance of power in the Senate has sounded the death knell for the government’s controversial ISP-level internet content filter.

While the plan had been delayed in July with the Federal Attorney-General‘s office to review the filter blacklist - or refused classification content - to be administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the weekend’s election result means for the next few years the filter will not get legislative approval as the Greens have committed to blocking it.

The drowning of the much-hated filter could be cemented further should the Coalition be able to form a minority government with the gang of five independents.


A Rolls-Royce NBN is simply not commercially viable

THE national broadband network will be a revolutionary piece of infrastructure with enormous benefits.

It will deliver 1GB high-speed internet to 93 per cent of Australians.

But there would also be speed and safety benefits to giving every Australian a Rolls-Royce, and the government doesn't do that because it would be ridiculously expensive, with many rarely leaving the garage.

So too the NBN.

The price we've been quoted is $43 billion, but that's only for the initial build.

Factor in the year-on-year running costs and the NBN rests somewhere between a losing investment and a financial black hole, guaranteed never to break even, let alone to turn a profit.


NBN important to regions 'but you can't eat it'

  • Andrew Colley, Mitchell Bingemann
  • From: The Australian
  • August 24, 2010 12:00AM

LABOR may be quietly rejoicing that regional telecommunications is shaping as a key bargaining chip in the battle to form government.

The party is armed with its $43 billion National Broadband Network, but regional backing for it to form government is far from certain.

Signs for Labor were positive when all three independents, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter, whose support is shaping as necessary to forming government, indicated broadband would crown their list of demands to take to the major parties.

As it became clear on Saturday night the election would lead to a hung parliament, Mr Oakeshott told ABC TV: "You don't need to be an Einstein to work out that telecommunications is one of the issues we will be talking about."


NBN under scrutiny by country MPs

  • UPDATED: Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 26, 2010 10:52AM

INDEPENDENT MP Tony Windsor has questioned the $43 billion National Broadband Network price tag, describing it as a "fictitious number".

Mr Windsor is one of three country MPs at the centre of power-sharing negotiations, including Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter, who want access to Treasury secretary Ken Henry and Finance department secretary David Tune as they prepare a "roadmap" before entering into talks with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

They've issued a "call for information'' on seven key areas, including access to the costings on all election commitments. As a result Labor could finally be forced to reveal how the $43bn figure was derived.

Mr Windsor described the request as "a test to the parties in terms of their promises going into the election" and questioned the veracity of the NBN funds.


Dick Smith questions NBN benefits

ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith has fired a salvo against Labor's National Broadband Network.

He said he was concerned about the lack of a cost-benefit study and questioned the benefits for the bush.

Mr Smith said he was against the $43 billion plan "because it's never been properly costed".

Labor's plan was released without such an analysis to measure the claimed benefits in areas like e-health.


Telstra in limbo with broadband on the line

A SHIFTING customer landscape and poor financial results had prepared Telstra to adapt to the advent of the National Broadband Network.

However, the election outcome has left the telco in uncertain territory.

Before Saturday, Telstra chief executive David Thodey knew the election would shape the giant telco's future.

A Labor win would mean the $43 billion NBN would go ahead -- and Telstra would be guaranteed a major role -- at the cost of dismantling its vertically integrated business.


Regional internet service to fore

BROADBAND is shaping up to be the key bargaining chip in the battle to form government.

This is occurring as Labor and the Coalition try to woo a clutch of independents from electorates starved of adequate telecommunications services.

Three independents emerged from the weekend's unresolved election with the power to bring either Labor or the Coalition to power in a minority government.

The three members -- Bob Katter from Kennedy in north Queensland, Rob Oakeshott from Lyne on the NSW mid-north coast and Tony Windsor from neighbouring New England -- all hail from electorates where access to high-speed broadband is rare and service is patchy, and where mobile networks do not reach towns with fewer than 100 people.


Abbott set to shift policy ground in negotiations with independents

  • Patricia Karvelas, Political correspondent
  • From: The Australian
  • August 23, 2010 12:00AM

TONY Abbott has revealed he is prepared to alter his election promises -- including on his proposed broadband network.

His move is an attempt to win over the crucial independent MPs who are weighing up their support for him.

Mr Abbott said yesterday that within the "broad" policy parameters he established during the campaign, he had every intention of negotiating on the themes the independents would raise with him.

"Obviously, I accept that broadband is important because I put forward a very good broadband policy. I don't want to pre-empt the discussions that I expect will be had over the next few days, just to say that I intend to be very pragmatic, but within the broad policy parameters which we discussed during the election," Mr Abbott said.


COMMENT: Does the NBN have a mandate?

Posted on August 22nd, 2010 | 155 post views

One of the interesting conclusions to draw from Saturday night’s Australian election—where neither side gained a majority of seats and both sides scored a statistical dead heat in terms of two-party preferred vote—is that there was no clear verdict from the Australian people as to whether the next government has a mandate to either continue with or cancel the proposed NBN.

Three weeks into the campaign, with Labor riding on an NBN high with the publication of its proposed fibre maps and the Coalition wilting in the assault of a hostile media on its apparent lack of broadband smarts, it would have been safe to say that a potential Coalition win would have been in spite of its broadband policy, not because of it. It would have been quite legitimate for NBN advocates to continue to argue their case for a change in Coalition broadband policy no matter the result.

But the last two weeks of the campaign and the election results themselves muddy the waters.


TV cables as quick as NBN

IF the national broadband network ever gets built, it promises network speeds of 100 megabits per second.

There will be more in the future as the technology gets upgraded.

But you can get close to NBN speeds, at least in terms of download capacity, right now due to upgrades on the hybrid fibre cable networks laid down by the telcos back in the 90s to carry pay TV.

These have long offered internet access as well as pay TV and the latest DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade to the Optus HFC network pushes download bandwidth from 20Mbps right up to 100Mbps.

Note: This really works. A small pity the upload rate is only about 2Mb/Sec.




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