Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 24 October, 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:

Another reasonable week where we had a really good set of comments on Secure Messaging and some fun at Senate Estimates. Pity there was not a bit more time for questions as there are a good few that deserve to be answered.

Those who are interested should definitely sign up to receive DoHA Tender documents for the Personally Controlled EHR.

Here is the link to sign up:

We all can look forward to understanding just what is going on after we see these!


Online assessment helps diagnose mental illness

It is hoped a new online mental health self-assessment service will help doctors achieve more accurate diagnoses for their patients.

Research by The New South Wales Black Dog Institute found sufferers of mental illness are likely to reveal more information about their condition online.

The institute has created the mood assessment program, or MAP, which is now available to GPs and psychologists all over Australia.

Patients can complete the assessment at home and doctors do not see the patients' answers, but receive an automatically generated report.


E-health not a cost-cutting measure: govt

By Josh Taylor, on October 22nd, 2010

The Federal Government's e-health plan is not about saving taxpayer money but about using health funding more efficiently, a senior public servant has told Senate Estimates this week.

In response to a question from Labor Senator Mark Furner on what potential savings the government's $466.7 million investment in e-health programs could deliver for the taxpayer, Jane Halton, secretary for the Department of Health and Ageing, said that any savings made would ultimately be spent elsewhere in the health system.

"The thing I know about health is there is no such thing as a saving because someone else will come along and spend the money. It is like there is no such thing as an empty hospital bed. What it enables you to do though is to spend the money that you do have more wisely and more efficiently," Halton told the hearing.


Hansard Report on New E-Health Announcement

Nicola Roxon (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Petrie for her question. She, I know, is one of the members in North Brisbane who is very pleased with the lead implementation sites that are currently contracted to provide e-health services in three geographic areas across the country: northern Brisbane, the Hunter Valley and in eastern Melbourne. GP Partners in Brisbane have been leading advocates for the benefits of e-health and for the enormous potential, not just when we combine e-health and telehealth in terms of changing Medicare and providing different support for after hours GP services but when we use the power of broadband to ensure that more and more people have access in their own homes. This will also enable teleconferencing and make it possible for GPs and nurses to sit with patients and talk with specialists in the middle of town or perhaps many thousands of kilometres away. Those things will become reality.

We have already allocated $20 million worth of investments in those three lead sites. But there is another $55 million that will shortly be available. Expressions of interest will be called for. This will provide benefits for many communities, but particularly for regional communities where there is a great thirst for using new technology and changes and reforms to our health system to deliver better services. These investments and our commitment to introducing an electronic health record, to advances in telehealth and to the National Broadband Network have been widely endorsed.


E-health group snubs local participation guidelines

THE National E-Health Transition Authority has snubbed government guidelines designed to boost local participation in its first major tender.

NEHTA cited its controversial status as a private corporation owned jointly by the federal and state governments.

The Health Department refused last week to reveal how much NEHTA spent on travel in the past financial year, saying the taxpayer-funded body was not required to report such information under its funding agreement.


Fine highlights importance of Project STOP

18 October 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

A US pharmacy chain which received a record fine for illegally selling large amounts of pseudoephedrine has raised concerns over pharmacies not using Project STOP.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Kos Sclavos urged NSW pharmacists to take a lead in adopting the real-time monitoring to restrict the sale of the drug used to manufacture methamphetamine, after revealing a third of pharmacies in the state had not signed up to Project STOP.

Speaking to Pharmacy eNews following the revelations that the US’s biggest pharmacy chain, CVS Pharmacy, had been fined US$75 million for failing to restrict the sale of large quantities of the drug found in cold medications, he warned criminals in Australia were targeting pharmacisies that had not adopted a real-time system.


Doctor in online tirade

A DOCTOR has been caught using Facebook to publicly ridicule patients - telling his online network of friends that some were "whingers" and "dissatisfied housewives".

In a series of extraordinary breaches of medical confidentiality, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal doctors have even disparagingly named patients on social networks.

One doctor posted: "I feel like an adviser to a women's knitting club, having to suffer the whines of Mrs X and her daughter Ms X."The outrageous remarks have been described as "not uncommon" and have forced the NSW Medical Board to issue strict warnings to doctors about social networking.

The Medical Error Action Group has uncovered several inappropriate posts by doctors, including one who made sexist comments about a female patient on Facebook, stating: "Mrs X should go and get her hair done instead of complaining to me about her knees."


Cambridge starts hunt for a new EPR

18 Oct 2010

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will go outside of the National Programme for IT in the NHS when procuring for an electronic patient record early next year.

The trust has committed £280,000 to developing a specification for the hospital wide IT system, following an announcement by the Department of Health that trusts will be free to select their own system, rather than taking an NPfIT-supplied system, namely Cerner’s Millennium or iSoft’s Lorenzo.

Chief executive of the hospital, Gareth Goodier told the Cambridge News that the trust is right to steer clear of the now defunct national programme.

He added: “There was a common perception that the national programme has cost a lot and not delivered much.”


iSoft share price hits record low

The share price of iSoft, the supplier of "Lorenzo" software to dozens of NHS Trusts, falls to less than 10 (Aus) cents

The share price of NHS software supplier iSoft has fallen to a new low.

The company supplies the "Lorenzo" patient administration system to CSC. Under £3bn worth of contracts under the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] CSC is due to deliver iSoft's Lorenzo system to dozens of NHS trusts.

Other iSoft software, including the "iCM" clinical management and "iPM" patient administration system, is used widely in the NHS.

Today, for the first time, iSoft's share price fell below 10 Australian cents, which is about six pence sterling. Its share price reached a high of about 1.52 Australian dollars in 2007 which is about 95 pence sterling.

iSoft and CSC went live with Lorenzo 1.9 at Morecambe Bay in June 2010 though the two suppliers have yet to be paid for reaching the important milestone. The Department of Health's CIO Christine Connelly has said that the Lorenzo implementation at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and at NHS Bury need to stabilise before they can be signed off by the trusts.


Health CIO seeks new NPfIT deal with CSC

As Christine Connelly negotiates a new memorandum of understanding with CSC, can it be said the NPfIT is dead?

Christine Connelly, CIO at the Department of Health, is trying to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with CSC, one of the two remaining NPfIT local service providers, the other being BT.

The deal she is seeking to complete contradicts suggestions that the NPfIT is dead. CSC has about £3bn worth of national programme contracts to supply the iSoft “Lorenzo” patient administration system to NHS trusts in the England, outside of London and the south.

If the MoU is signed, CSC will take £500m less under its NPfIT contracts but will be allowed to agree new delivery schedules for Lorenzo after it failed to meet previous ones.


iSOFT integrates primary care in Wales

20 October 2010

iSOFT Group Limited has announced details of the contract awarded by NHS Wales to roll out the Individual Health Record (IHR) nationwide.

The IHR will make patient information held in iSOFT’s GP systems available to local out-of-hours services and in other unscheduled care settings (eg A&E) via the Welsh Clinical Portal for hospital systems.

Initially, the company will interface its GP systems to the Adastra out-of-hours system, via an iSOFT health record system specifically customised for Wales.


iSOFT developments to help re-shape primary care in Wales

19th October 2010

iSOFT Group Limited (ASX: ISF) has been awarded a contract to work with NHS Wales to roll out the Individual Health Record (IHR) nation-wide.

The IHR will make patient information held in iSOFT’s GP systems available to local out-of-hours services and in other unscheduled care settings via the Welsh Clinical Portal. Initially, the company will interface its GP systems to the Adastra out-of-hours system, via an iSOFT health record solution specifically customised for Wales.

The solution combines extensions to iSOFT’s primary care practice systems together with iSOFT’s integration technology and electronic health record functionality, which provides the central IHR repository and viewing tool for patient records fed from the GP systems. iSOFT is implementing data streaming to transfer data from the practice systems to the repository. The streamed data conforms to the nationally agreed Welsh NHS content and data model standards, which support practice and patient opt in and out preferences, and the exclusion of sensitive patient information.


NHS Wirral drops Lorenzo

19 Oct 2010

NHS Wirral has dropped its planned implementation of Lorenzo Release 1.9 and is carrying out an option appraisal for an alternative system, E-Health Insider has learned.

The primary care trust, which was due to be one of the ‘fast followers’ for iSoft’s electronic patient record under the National Programme for IT in the NHS, was due to go live with the system in March 2010.

It had to delay the go-live following changes to the programme in the North, Midlands and East of England, which focused on the need to get Lorenzo live in its first acute site, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

A Wirral board paper published at the end of last year stated: “The software had been due in March 2010 but has been delayed until June 2010 as a result of NHS Connecting for Health taking the programme forward via acute early adopter site Morecambe Bay.”


British schoolboy exposes phony drug through Twitter

  • From: AFP
  • October 19, 2010 9:54AM

A 15-YEAR-OLD teenager from Wales has prompted a global internet campaign against a phony "miracle drug" after posting warnings about it on the social networking website Twitter.

Rhys Morgan, a 15-year-old who suffers from Crohn's disease, stumbled upon a substance called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) while looking into treatments for his condition, which causes swelling in the digestive tract.

"I found out about it while browsing a support forum for Crohn's disease, which I was diagnosed with earlier this year," Morgan said.

Morgan's search led him to a website run by the drug's apparent creator Jim Humble claiming that MMS was "the answer to AIDS, hepatitis A, B and C, malaria, herpes, TB, most cancers and many more of mankind's worse diseases".


Labor's ISP filter plan faces more delays

  • Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • October 20, 2010 9:45AM

LABOR'S controversial ISP filter plan faces further delays as a meeting central to the policy is postponed yet again.

Labor wants all ISPs to automatically block web pages on a secret blacklist of refused classification (RC) material. In July Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he, alongside the Home Affairs Minister, would recommend to states and territory ministers that a review into the type of content that RC covers be conducted.

Delays to the review mean it will be at least five years before the mandatory filtering scheme comes to fruition. Labor mooted the plan in late 2007.

The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) was meant to discuss the RC review in a late July meeting, but that was postponed.


NSW Government slammed by auditor for not protecting citizens' private info

October 20, 2010

Not much has been done by government agencies to ensure that people's private information is secure, the NSW Auditor-General said, despite a 10-year push to improve protection.

Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat has called on the NSW government to rethink its electronic security, saying it could not assure the public that private information was being safeguarded adequately.

Despite a series of edicts stretching back 10 years, ineffective monitoring meant the government did not know if agencies had adopted proper safeguards, Mr Achterstraat said.


Open slather for hackers on official databases

Brian Robins

October 21, 2010

Computer hackers could gain access to personal information held in government databases as state departments routinely ignore government edicts that tighter security be imposed.

The government rarely discloses when its computer security systems have been breached, although in a report yesterday, the NSW Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, confirmed the Jobs NSW website was hacked last year, with email addresses of job applicants stolen and the applicants spammed by the hackers.

Similarly, RailCorp's computer networks were infected with the Conficker virus last year. This disabled security services in its network, with data vulnerable to theft or modification by hackers.

''There could be more such breaches,'' the report said, noting that in some cases organisations may never know security has been breached.


Malcolm Turnbull wants Productivity Commission analysis of NBN

  • Matthew Franklin, David Uren
  • From: The Australian
  • October 20, 2010 12:00AM

JULIA Gillard could be forced to subject her $43 billion National Broadband Network to a cost-benefit analysis.

The Coalition is seeking cross-bench support for a Productivity Commission examination of the plan.

But while the Greens have refused to rule out backing the move, the government has dismissed it as a political stunt designed to delay the rollout of benefits for all Australians.

Labor first promised the NBN in 2007 and made its potential use in health and education central to its campaign for the August 21 election.

However, while the economics of the proposal were examined in a $25million implementation study, it has never been the subject of a formal cost-benefit analysis.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull yesterday produced a private member's bill that would require the Productivity Commission to examine the project and for the government's NBN Co to publish a 10-year business plan.


Telecom reform law back on the table

KEY legislation to reform competition in the telco sector and underpin the success of the NBN will be reintroduced to parliament today.

But new Coalition demands for transparency over the costing of the $43 billion project threaten to delay its passage.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has previously warned that failure to pass the legislation could result in a blowout of cost and timeline for the network.

The two key planks of the telco reform package were Telstra's structural separation and new measures to increase the powers of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.


Up to 90% see the need for NBN speed

Lucy Battersby

October 18, 2010

NBN Co is overwhelmed by the number of households in mainland test sites signing up for an optical fibre connection to the national broadband network. In some regional towns nearly 90 per cent of houses will be connected.

In contrast, only 51 per cent of households in Tasmanian test sites agreed to a fibre connection, prompting some to question whether Australians would embrace the publicly funded project.

NBN is bringing fibre to 12,200 houses in five mainland test sites. Retail carriers are expected to start providing broadband and telephone services in about eight months.


NBN Co business case to precede implementation study response

Government reverses order of document releases, citing time pressures

The imminent business case from NBN Co is expected to be delivered to government before an official response to the $25 million NBN Implementation Study from McKinsey & Co and KPMG is released, reversing previous statements from communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.

In what became a series of heated blows between Conroy and opposing senators, a Senates budget estimates hearing into the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the operations of NBN Co revealed that chief executive, Mike Quigley, would shortly deliver the business case to government pending approval from the board. However, Liberal senator, Ian McDonald, questioned the order of process for the company and release of documents. McDonald cited a response from NBN Co to a question put on notice from a previous Senate estimates hearing that stated:

“The government has advised NBN Co to delay the submission of its business case and corporate plan until: the government has considered its response to the NBN Implementation Study and technical and business planning inputs from NBN Co and, the government and NBN Co have fully considered the implications of the financial heads of agreement and the definitive agreements with NBN Co and Telstra.”


Let's focus on the big picture of the National Broadband Network

THE debate about the worthiness or otherwise of the government's proposed NBN is like water down a plughole.

The devil is in the detail. Debating points are scored on small parts of a big issue. Too little attention is paid to the big picture.

While its detractors say the NBN is too expensive, not necessary and a return to socialism, I find myself in the pro camp.

To my mind, it is visionary, transformational and utterly essential to meet national aspirations to be a 21st century smart country, rather than simply a quarry. I am surprised by two things: the manner in which the NBN has morphed from a generally accepted project under Kevin Rudd to a political hot potato for the Gillard minority government, and the growing doubts being expressed even by those best positioned to benefit from the network.


NASA preps '100-year spaceship' program to boldly go where none have gone before

  • By Peter Farquhar, Technology Editor
  • From:
  • October 21, 2010 9:35AM
  • Planetary travel "within few years"
  • Funded by DARPA, NASA
  • First stop - moons of Mars

A SENIOR NASA official has promised to deliver a spaceship that will travel between alien worlds "within a few years".

Speaking at a conference in San Francisco on Saturday, NASA Ames director Simon Worden said his division had started a project with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called the "Hundred Year Starship”.

The project was kicked off recently with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA and hopes to utilise new propulsion ideas being explored by NASA.

Star Trek fans, prepare to get excited - electric propulsion is here, according to Mr Worden.

“Anybody that watches the (Star Trek) Enterprise, you know you don’t see huge plumes of fire," he said.

"Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds.”


Astronomers say they've found oldest galaxy ever with the Hubble Space Telescope

  • From correspondents in Washington
  • From: AP
  • October 21, 2010 8:57AM

ASTRONOMERS believe they've found the oldest thing they've ever seen in the universe: It's a galaxy far, far away from a time long, long ago.

Hidden in a Hubble Space Telescope photo released earlier this year is a small smudge of light that European astronomers now calculate is a galaxy from 13.1 billion years ago. That's a time when the universe was very young, just shy of 600 million years old. That would make it the earliest and most distant galaxy seen so far.

By now the galaxy is so ancient it probably doesn't exist in its earlier form and has already merged into bigger neighbors, said Matthew Lehnert of the Paris Observatory, lead author of the study published online today in the journal Nature.




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