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."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 27 September, 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:

A very interesting week. I think what we are now seeing, after the formation of a new government, is positioning of each of the actors with respect to what is going to happen in the e-health domain - and Health Reform in general - over the next year or two - or until the government collapses.

I made clear what I think is needed at the strategic level in the Australian on Sept 25, 2010.

See here:


Note I accept the thrust of some of the comments that there is also some detailed work needed - but I don’t think that can happen until we can get a concerted direction determined.

I think we can expect some interesting developments leading up to Christmas.



Change management key to e-health

Industry leaders key change management among clinicians, patients and politicians

The ultimate success of e-health programs in Australia will come down to how change management and adoption processes are put in place for clinicians, patients and politicians alike, a key industry leader told attendees of the World Computer Congress 2010 in Brisbane.

Adam Powick, a consultant with Deloitte and lead author of the 2008 Australian National eHealth Strategy report approved by health ministers, said that political programs had to be geared towards financials and other motivations that would create incentives for clinicians to adopt programs such as the individual e-health identifier released by Medicare in July, and the personally-controlled voluntary e-health record the Government plans to roll out by 2012.

“To get e-health to work, you have to answer ‘what’s in it for me?’ for every single part of the sector, and I think we don’t do that well enough,” he said.

Powick noted that such programs were already happening, pointing to the $392.3 million telehealth program announced by the Labor party during the Federal election campaign. The program, to begin in 2012, will see doctors paid to conduct about 495,000 online consultation services over four years to rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas — an initiative Powick said was a vital piece of the e-health puzzle.



Doctors caught revealing secret patient information in Facebook posts

  • Patients mocked on Facebook posts
  • Doctors warned over flippant comments
  • Patient confidentiality is "at risk"

DOCTORS have been disclosing sensitive medical information - and even mocking patients - on Facebook.

The NSW Medical Board has cautioned one doctor for making "flippant and derogatory" comments, and warned others to "think twice" before disclosing patient details on social networking sites.

Doctors are being warned the online conversations they think are private "may come back to haunt you".

"The usual rules about confidentiality apply. But even when patients are not identified, members of the public may be upset by the content of such postings," the board said.

"Facebook users are reminded that, despite their privacy settings, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable."



Are health records protected by copyright?

In brief - Health records and copyright

On 4 May 2010 the Federal Court of Australia held that copyright did not subsist in a number of health records created and maintained by a health care provider. Therefore, they were not an asset of the business.

The health records were health summary sheets, consultation notes, referral letters and other letters written in respect of patients.

Importance of copyright status of health records

The question was important because, if copyright subsisted, the owner of the health records would have been able to claim a more favourable tax position. The decision also has ramifications for apportionment of the price on the sale of any medical or allied health practice.



NT reins in walkabout ehealth records

The Northern Territory has over 100 small communities scattered across its landmass. Add to that a highly mobile populace and you have a recipe for poor healthcare records.

To combat this problem, the NT government has developed a personal, portable electronic healthcare record for its citizens.

NTHealth chief information officer Stephen Moo told CHIK Services’ Health-E-Nation conference last week the territory’s electronic healthcare record currently has 35,000 citizens enrolled across 104 healthcare centres. Three primary healthcare systems are integrated into the package, plus the major hospitals.



Audit prompts Medicare investigation


By Paul Smith

MEDICARE Australia says its investigators are targeting 300 practices, especially those that may be abusing incentive payments for e-health and Indigenous health care.

The warning follows last month's Australian National Audit Office report, which said Medicare had only recently been targeting "high-risk" practices that could be abusing the $280 million Practice Incentive Program.

The audit report found that almost 10% of practices claiming practice nurses PIP payments between 2006 and 2009 were not entitled to the money paid out, amid suspicions that practices have not been employing qualified nurses for sufficient hours to be eligible for the payments.



PIP fails aim of rewarding longer consults: auditors


By Paul Smith

The Practice Incentives Program is failing to reduce red tape and the rise of six-minute medicine, according to a major review of the system.

The report by the Australian National Audit Office said more practices had become accredited in order to access the payments — now worth around $280 million a year.

But the audit office warned the administrative burden on general practices had not decreased, with 80% of survey respondents saying there had been increases over the past five years in the cost and work required to receive PIP incentives.



Medicare ramps up PIP audits

24th Sep 2010

Andrew Bracey

MEDICARE has defended its record on administering the Practice Incentives Program (PIP), indicating “high-risk” practices will be targeted for PIP audits in the coming year.

The recent Australian National Audit Office report on the scheme revealed Medi­care had relied on 10-year-old data to determine some PIP payments, and that in some cases payments were made to practices that may not have met PIP requirements.

“Furthermore, until rec­ently, Medicare Australia’s PIP compliance audits have been based on factors such as the type of incentive payment and geographic considerations, rather than practices with higher risk of non-compliance,” the report warns.



E-health record tenders out soon

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • September 24, 2010 12:00AM

ELEMENTS of the planned personally controlled e-health record system will go to an open tender, with an industry briefing due before the end of the year.

Some details of the $467 million project to deliver electronic patient records "to every Australian who wants one" by mid-2012 have emerged in response to questions on notice since the Senate estimates sessions in May.

It's understood answers from the federal Health Department were on hold during the extended election caretaker period.



Aussie app a shot to e-health

By Darren Pauli on 21 September 2010

A mobile application is set to ease the burden of rehabilitation on the health system by allowing patients to report their conditions to doctors through their phone handsets.

The application can report a patient's exercise routine, diet, weight and other health conditions to health carers using smartphone functionality such as an accelerometer, which measures propulsion, and an on-board camera.

Clinicians can log into a web portal to check the patient's distance travelled when jogging, review photos of their food, and monitor consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. They also issue motivational SMSes and conduct weekly tele- and video-conferences with patients.

The Australian e-Health Research Centre, which developed the application, is also creating mobile tools to capture and analyse a patient's heart rate using wearable sensors.



Medicare e-health contract in limbo

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • September 22, 2010 5:40PM

THREE months after the start of the $90 million mandatory Healthcare Identifier system, Medicare is yet to sign a contract for service delivery.

Medicare is operating the HI service without a formal agreement, as negotiations continue with the National E-Health Transition Authority.

The original $57m, two-year contract for Medicare to design and build the system on behalf of NEHTA expired in January.



iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF) Appoints Ron Series As New Director

Sydney, Sep 24, 2010 (ABN Newswire) - iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF) today announced the appointment of Ron Series as a new director of the company. This is consistent with the company's commitment to Board renewal.

Ron will join the company as an executive director and will be responsible for overseeing the operational restructure of the company's business as previously announced. Ron will be based in the United Kingdom and will work closely with the executive management team to ensure a well planned and efficiently executed restructure plan.



New generation of health informaticians

Approximately 40 students from La Trobe University in Melbourne visited the Model Healthcare Community (MHC) on Tuesday 14 September.

As part of their studies the Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Health Information students toured the MHC and will be assessed on what they learnt.

The MHC shows how the Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) works. The HI Service, which commenced operation on 1 July 2010, has been developed as a foundation service for e-health initiatives in Australia recognising that a requirement for a safe and secure e-health system is the ability to uniquely identify everyone involved in a single healthcare transaction.



WA e-Procurement system a national first for health

Western Australia has become the first State to implement an electronic trading system for medical goods and services that complies with new national e-procurement specifications developed by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA). The new system, linked to the National Product Catalogue for medical goods and services, will significantly streamline supply chain operations in WA’s public health sector enabling multiple suppliers to offer products and manage ordering, payment and dispatch processes electronically.

The system has been developed by Health Corporate Network, which is the WA Department of Health’s Shared Corporate Services arm responsible for coordinating supply, financial services and human resources to WA Government health agencies.



System to wash away bugs

  • From: The Times
  • September 21, 2010 12:00AM

GENERAL Electric is working on how to minimise the spread of hospital superbugs by ensuring doctors and nurses wash their hands when they are supposed to.

Medical errors, including hospital-acquired infection, cost US healthcare $US30 billion ($31.7bn) and cause up to 100,000 preventable deaths a year, according to the US Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

The failure to follow hand-washing rules is regarded as a leading cause of the problem. Estimates of compliance levels run at only 35 to 40 per cent and little improvement has been made during the past 10 years, according to Jeff Terry of GE Healthcare.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stirling Products to acquire pathology business

by Proactive Investors

Healthcare group Stirling Products (ASX:STI) will acquire the business and assets of Halcion Pty Ltd, a national pathology business with laboratory services generating revenues of approximately $7.5 million per annum.

Halcion manages over 40 employees and 20 contractors nationally and operates profitably with the pathology sector. Total consideration is $3,305,000.

The acquisition is effective today but is conditional on due diligence to be completed within 30 days and also the issue of the consideration shares which is subject to approval by the Stirling’s shareholders.

If these two conditions are not satisfied, then the acquisition is subject to reversion to the Halcion interests.



Parker Healthcare goes to the National Product Catalogue (NPC) with Bizcaps Enterprise

By Bizcaps Pty Ltd

Bizcaps Pty Ltd has assisted Parker Healthcare to load its catalogue of 400 products to the National Product Catalogue (NPC) and quickly become NPC-ready using Bizcaps Enterprise.

Drew Hayes of Bizcaps said that the project demonstrated how a supplier who understood the benefits of data synchronisation could ensure a swift and reasonably painless deployment of their product data to the National Product Catalogue.

He said Parker Healthcare’s absolute determination to do what was needed to have its product data quickly available on the NPC in a complete and correct format was the key element in the success of the project in such a short time.

Bizcaps Enterprise is part of a range of product lifecycle management, product data management and business process management software solutions available from Bizcaps.



'Miracle' market unpoliced

Mark Russell

September 26, 2010

WIDESPREAD criticism of the Therapeutic Goods Administration has forced the Gillard government to look at overhauling Australia's drugs regulator because it is failing to adequately police the $2 billion industry in ''miracle'' cures and other quasi-health devices.

Claims that ''therapeutic'' products can cure everything from AIDS to cancer, guarantee weight loss or improve strength, balance and flexibility are misleading and deceptive and can sometimes lead to lethal results, health experts say.

The federal Department of Health and Ageing released a consultation paper on the advertising of therapeutic goods in June, saying it was important the public received accurate information about the risks as well as the purported benefits of these goods on the market.

''Concerns have been raised by some opponents of the current advertising framework that the system is not working to protect consumers as well as it might,'' the paper said. ''There is a perception that the complaints handling process is not as transparent as it could be, and that the sanctions available to the [TGA's] complaints resolution panel … do not provide sufficient deterrence.''



Ultranet access an issue: principals

Jewel Topsfield

September 23, 2010

THE ultranet, Victoria's new online portal in schools, has little use unless every student from years 3 to 12 has a computer, according to the state's principals.

A virtual classroom that will enable parents to view their child's timetables, school work and attendance, the ultranet is due to be rolled out in all schools by the end of September. But principals have warned that to be effective, the ultranet requires every student to have access to a computer, increased technician support and training for teachers.



Telstra to test services on trial fibre network

TELSTRA announced yesterday it would soon begin testing its broadband services on the trial Tasmanian fibre network.

From next month, 100 Telstra customers in the NBN trial sites of Tasmania's Midway Point, Scottsdale and Smithton will be offered free internet services and products so the telco can test the compatibility of the $43 billion network's infrastructure with its own products and systems.

The select customers will receive super-fast broadband connections capable of 1000 megabits a second download speeds over the fibre network. They will retain and pay for services that currently use Telstra's copper-based network, such as the telephone.


Senate 'must move' on NBN

Andrew Darby and Lucy Battersby

September 22, 2010

TELSTRA boss David Thodey says the telecommunications company is becoming impatient with delays in finalising its deal with the national broadband network.

Mr Thodey said 18 months after the NBN project was unveiled, it was important for the country, and for Telstra, to finish the regulatory work and pass implementing legislation.

''We need to move on,'' he told reporters in Hobart yesterday.

Under the $9 billion deal to combine forces, reached in June, Telstra agreed to give NBN Co access to infrastructure, in exchange for compensation for closing its copper wire network.



ACCC proposal 'threatens Telstra revenue, NBN deal'

THE recent ACCC proposal to lower the price Telstra charges its rivals to access its copper network will hurt the telco's revenues.

It will also put its dividend at risk and raise questions over the telco's $11 billion NBN deal, a leading analyst has warned.

The competition regulator last week released a draft report proposing to drop the price of Telstra's basic wholesale telephony service by $6 to $20. The 23 per cent price reduction came as the ACCC decided to do away with its traditional pricing regime of recalculating the total cost of rebuilding Telstra's network with a new system that calculates prices based on the assets and costs associated with providing services.

The draft pricing system has led to a dramatic change in the ACCC's valuation of Telstra's customer access network (CAN), which has now been written down from about $23bn to $7.5bn.



Greens put Labor's NBN sale plan in doubt

  • Mitchell Bingemann and David Uren
  • From: The Australian
  • September 20, 2010 12:00AM

LABOR'S plan to privatise its $43 billion National Broadband Network is in jeopardy.

The problem has arisen after Greens senator Scott Ludlam pledged to fight for the project to remain in public hands.

The government wants to eventually sell down its stake in the NBN once the ambitious project is completed, but Senator Ludlam believes the network should not be sold to private investors lest another monopoly-empowered telco emerges from the sale.



Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry backs National Broadband Network

However Labor must supply hard numbers on the cost and benefits of the NBN, ACCI says

  • Tim Lohman (Computerworld)
  • 19 September, 2010 09:21

The National Broadband Network (NBN) has been given strong endorsement by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) which at the same time has called for hard data from Labor on the economic benefits of the infrastructure project.

Speaking on Network Ten on Sunday, ACCI chief executive, Peter Anderson, said the Australian business community realised the benefits to the economy which national broadband infrastructure initiatives could bring.

"The instinct in the business community is that there can be a real productivity kick and benefit," Anderson said appearing on Meet The Press.



Computers set for quantum leap

By Clive Cookson in Birmingham

Published: September 16 2010 19:18 | Last updated: September 16 2010 19:18

A new photonic chip that works on light rather than electricity has been built by an international research team, paving the way for the production of ultra-fast quantum computers with capabilities far beyond today’s devices.

Future quantum computers will, for example, be able to pull important information out of the biggest databases almost instantaneously. As the amount of electronic data stored worldwide grows exponentially, the technology will make it easier for people to search with precision for what they want.

An early application will be to investigate and design complex molecules, such as new drugs and other materials, that cannot be simulated with ordinary computers. More general consumer applications should follow.

Comment - This looks like another serious game changer coming!




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