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, November 15, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 15 November, 2010.

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:

This is a pretty worrying report. If what is reported below is true then trust in an electronic patient record which had not been updated caused a major treatment issue. This is a very serious management issue - not a technical issue - and it is the processes around how the EHR is used needs to be dramatically improved. It is a pity the EHR and not the management processes around the record which is blamed for the problem.

Turned away by hospital in error, man commits suicide

Kate Hagan

November 8, 2010

THE mother of a man who took his own life an hour after being refused admission to Frankston Hospital's psychiatric ward believes deficiencies in its electronic patient records system contributed to his death.

Susan McIntyre said her son Carl Ranthe, 26, who had schizophrenia, presented to the hospital's emergency department on New Year's Day last year and requested admission to the psychiatric ward, but was discharged after a social worker assessed him.

A coroner's inquest in September revealed that crucial details about a similar incident a month earlier, when Mr Ranthe was also refused admission to the ward and then absconded from his residential care unit, were not included on the hospital's electronic records.

The inquest heard that the information about Mr Ranthe absconding from his care unit - managed by Peninsula Health, which also runs Frankston Hospital - was unavailable because the care unit only updated his electronic record every 13 weeks.

More here:


The issue is also covered here:


When privacy can be a life or death call

Merle Spriggs

November 11, 2010

Electronic health records raise difficult issues of who sees what, and when.

WOULD you want your dentist to know you have haemorrhoids or your optometrist to be aware of your HIV status? Questions such as this are at the heart of any discussion of electronic health records, something that could affect all of us very soon.

The federal government has allocated $467 million over two years to introduce a personally controlled electronic health record system, so it is essential that we assess the potential harms and benefits of such a system.

It's a complex issue, highlighted this week in reports from a coroner's inquest that crucial details about a patient were missing from a hospital's electronic records because they were updated only every 13 weeks. The missing information could have helped in the assessment of the patient before he committed suicide - the implication being that they could have helped save his life.

While it is the coroner's job to make determinations in this case, it is important for everyone to be aware of the legislation passed by the Senate in June to allow the National E-Health Authority and Medicare Australia to begin assigning individual healthcare identifiers to the Australian public.

----- End Extract.

This is also a useful and quite thoughtful contribution to the health information sharing debate.

Otherwise there is a fair bit of news which you can read about below.



NSW Department of Health announces 'realignment of functions'

Director of e-health and ICT strategy advertised

The NSW government has announced a reshuffle in the Department of Health, with a “realignment of functions” resulting in a new advertisement for the role of director of e-health and ICT strategy.

The realignment follows the implementation of the recently announced NSW Health ICT strategy, with the advertisement stating that it is an attempt to “position NSW Health at the forefront of the national e-health agenda”.

Once the role of director of e-health and ICT strategy is filled, the successful candidate will oversee all Department of Health ICT strategy, and be responsible for guiding “the ICT direction for the entire health system”, the advertisement said.



NSW Health forms e-health branch, hires

By Josh Taylor, ZDNet.com.au on November 12th, 2010

The New South Wales Department of Health is looking for a director of e-health and ICT strategy to bring the state to the forefront of the national e-health agenda.

According to a job advertisement released today in the Australian Financial Review, the leadership position has been created for a new NSW Health branch created to take advantage of the national e-health roll-out. The director will be required to develop strategies to engage clinicians to support the implementation of e-health strategies.



NEHTA's $43m advice bill

THE National E-Health Transition Authority spent about $43.5 million on consultants last financial year.

A 67 per cent increase from the previous year.

The generosity was extended to key management personnel, whose total compensation doubled by $1.3m from last year. The expenditure on consultants represented nearly half its $95.6m budget in the 12 months to June 30, according to its annual report.

NEHTA paid about $26m to consultants in 2008-09.



Laptops damage sperm

Julia Medew

November 10, 2010

LAPTOP computers may be damaging male fertility because they overheat men's scrotums, new research suggests.

A study in the journal Fertility and Sterility this week measured the temperature of 29 men's scrotums while they used laptops on their knees, both with and without use of a lap pad underneath. The subjects also sat with their legs apart to see if the temperature changed.

State University of New York researchers found that when the men sat with their legs together and did not use a lap pad, it took 11 minutes for the computer to increase scrotal temperature by 1 degree - enough to damage sperm production. With the lap pad, it took 14 minutes and when the men sat with a lap pad, with legs apart it took 28 minutes.



Government invests $400 million in telehealth, video conferencing services

Patients in remote areas to receive consultations via internet

The Australian government has announced that from 1 July 2011 patients in remote, regional and outer metropolitan areas will receive greater access to specialists through new investments in telehealth consultations via the internet.

Confirmed in its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, the government’s investment will provide patients with access to electronic consultations.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said in a statement that with twice as many specialists per capita in major cities compared to regional and remote areas, this investment will help to reduce barriers to specialist medical services for patients.



Mobile phone STD test - killer app or fantasy?

Asher Moses

November 9, 2010

People will soon be able to tell if they have an STD by urinating on a small computer chip and inserting it into a mobile phone or computer, doctors and scientists in Britain claim.

But Australia's foremost sexual health expert is sceptical about the idea, saying it may be a long time before such a product is consumer-ready.

The small devices, similar to pregnancy testing kits, will reportedly be able to give people a home diagnosis within minutes. Millions of pounds have been poured into the project to combat an STD epidemic in Britain, where infections reached a record 482,696 last year.



Online partner alerts catch on for patients with STIs

8th Nov 2010

Rada Rouse

TEXTING and emailing are increasingly being used by patients diagnosed with STIs to inform partners who might need treatment, research shows.

The first Web-based version of the Australasian Contact Tracing Manual reflects the growing use of these technologies, sexual health physician Dr Marcus Chen says.

“We want to reflect recent research into how people contact partners in reality,” says Dr Chen, chair of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) expert writing group that developed the 4th edition of the manual.



Australian Healthcare IT Market Analysis

Publish Date: May, 2010 No. of Pages: 35


The current healthcare reform in Australia has induced the rapid transition of healthcare industry towards the information technology. The focus is to improve the quality of healthcare services by implementing high technology standards and integrating healthcare services through a common technology platform. With the increasing use of e-health services, the spending of healthcare industry in ICT has seen a significant surge over the recent past. As per our new research “Australian Healthcare IT Market Analysis”, the healthcare IT market of the country is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of around 5.2% during 2010-2012.



Pharmacists blame GPs for e-health deadlock

8th Nov 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

PHARMACISTS have charged GPs with bringing e-health to a standstill, claiming doctors are not up to speed with the latest innovations in e-health technologies.

Speaking at the recent Pharmacy Australia Congress, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Warwick Plunkett said pharmacists had taken e-health as far as possible, and it was now up to GPs to get on board.

“Until doctors get e-health up and running in its full extent we will not be able to go any further,” he said.

While the advantages of e-prescribing were being enjoyed by some doctors, there would be even greater advantages in allowing relevant patient information to be shared electronically with pharmacists, he said.



e-health Futures Launch In Sydney, Australia

11 Nov 2010

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has brought its innovative, interactive e-health display - e-health Futures - to Sydney.

The display will be officially opened at 7pm on Thursday 11 November at the RACGP NSW&ACT Faculty office (Level 7, 12 Mount St, North Sydney). The display will be on show from 11 November until early February 2011. The College has worked closely with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to incorporate their Model Healthcare Community into e-health Futures.

e-health Futures is a walkthrough experience with simulations and demonstrations of how e-health information will work among healthcare professionals and between healthcare settings. Visitors can complete either guided or self-guided tours at the exhibit.



Brumby promises every doctor in public hospitals an iPad

That's if the incumbent Labor state government is returned to power

Victorian Premier, John Brumby, yesterday promised every doctor in the state’s public hospital system would be issued with an Apple iPad if his incumbent Labor Government was returned to power in the state’s upcoming election.

The pledge was listed as a minor item in Labor’s health policy released yesterday. The Premier stated his party was committed to giving doctors the tools they needed to provide the best care to Victorian patients.

“As technology evolves, so do the tools that our doctors need. We will provide $12 million to buy iPads for every doctor working in Victoria’s public hospital system, so they have easy access to time-critical clinical information at a patient’s bedside,” Brumby said.



Vic iPad binge to see federal laptop issues?

By Renai LeMay, ZDNet.com.au on November 11th, 2010

Analyst firm Gartner yesterday questioned whether Victoria's Labor party had properly analysed what management tools and supporting infrastructure it will need if it wins the upcoming state election and is required to deliver on its promise to roll out Apple iPads to every public hospital doctor statewide.

State Premier John Brumby announced the plan this week, but Gartner research director Robin Simpson said he wondered how deep Labor's proposal actually went.

"Often these programs sound wonderful on the surface ... you've really got to wonder whether this has been thought through," he said.

The analyst described Brumby's pledge as a little like federal Labor's Digital Education Revolution project, which is seeing laptops rolled out to students nationwide. The devices were the obvious target for investment, according to Simpson, but money also needed to be set aside for supporting systems.



Health funding at risk

Julia Medew

November 12, 2010

VICTORIA would be risking millions of dollars in Commonwealth funding for its hospitals if it does not submit accurate performance data as part of the national health reform deal.

Under the national partnership agreement on improving public hospitals, which Premier John Brumby signed last week, Victoria is set to receive $149 million in bonus funding over the next three years if its hospitals meet new performance benchmarks.

Victoria could earn $62.1 million if its emergency departments meet rolling targets to introduce a four-hour treatment rule, and $86.9 million if elective surgery is performed within specific times.



Brumby refuses to reveal specialist wait times

Julia Medew

November 10, 2010

THE Brumby government has refused to release waiting times for specialist appointments in Victorian hospitals, despite doctors saying it would improve patient care.

Hospital data obtained by the Coalition this week showed that about 200,000 people were waiting to see a specialist in May. This includes 67,000 who were waiting to see one for the first time after being referred to them for expert advice.

In some cases, people had been waiting more than two years for these so-called ''outpatient appointments'', which could be with a surgeon or physician such as a cardiologist. While some of these patients may not need surgery, many will see surgeons who decide to put them on the elective surgery waiting list.



Hospital targets cost lives

Julia Medew

November 11, 2010

HOSPITALS are putting performance concerns ahead of lives as they battle to meet Victorian government targets without enough resources, an explosive report has revealed.

A survey of 124 emergency department doctors last month found that hospital chiefs were not allowing doctors to activate ambulance bypass procedures when emergency departments were full, because they did not want to fail to achieve a government benchmark that says hospitals should be on bypass less than 3 per cent of each year.

Seventy per cent of the doctors said this had been a problem for them and one said it had cost lives because ambulances were delivering seriously ill patients to overcrowded emergency departments that were unable to care for them.



Test found which can pick up signs of dementia in middle age

  • From: AAP
  • November 10, 2010 2:14PM

A BRAIN health test could become part of a doctor's check-up routine, as Australian research has found a simple way to detect the early signs of cognitive decline.

Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) used a computer-based test which could accurately predict who, during middle-age, already had warning signs for dementia.

The test assessed a person's reaction time while also looking for erratic answering patterns, and it raised a red flag those who an MRI scan later found to have dementia-related brain lesions.

Professor David Bunce from the ANU's Centre for Mental Health Research, and London's Brunel University, said these lesions were usually seen in older dementia patients and they were an early warning sign when identified in younger adults.



iSOFT enters healthcare business intelligence market

10 November 2010

Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. iSOFT has partnered with business intelligence specialist Insource to develop iSOFT Health Intelligence, its first product to enable healthcare organisations to produce reports analysing performance and outcomes.

iSOFT Health Intelligence is a modular business intelligence (BI) application. The first module, designed specifically for secondary care trusts' reporting requirements, links to iSOFT’s patient administration systems, via a range of connectors, to extract meaningful data to support business decisions. Bespoke connectors for third-party systems are also available.



Lumb queries LSP deal at Morecambe

10 Nov 2010

A Cumbria GP, who has led the development of primary care systems across the county, told eHealth Insider Live about his difficulty integrating with Lorenzo at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr William Lumb, IT lead for South Cumbria, said that although he had been able to develop a Community Information Network that had enabled GPs and community clinicians to share information, it had not been possible to extend it into the trust.

He said: “I do not know a lot about Lorenzo [the iSoft electronic patient record that CSC is deploying at Morecambe Bay as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS].



Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Extends Partnership with iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF) for Five Years

Sydney, Nov 9, 2010 (ABN Newswire) - iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF) has agreed contracts with Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust for an upgrade of an existing patient administration system (PAS) to provide additional patient and clinical functionality, under trust plans to improve patient care by improving the clinical information available to staff at its four hospitals in north Manchester, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.

Under a new five-year deal, iSOFT will upgrade Pennine's PAS and install a number of web-based clinical solutions, including its new e-prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) solution and HealthViews for order communications and consolidated access to patient data from across the trust. HealthViews and ePMA form part of iSOFT's new Smart Solutions portfolio.



iSoft promises new UK products

08 Nov 2010

ISoft has pledged to invest in the development of new products for NHS customers, separate to its Lorenzo development commitments.

In an exclusive interview with E-Health Insider, iSoft’s UK managing director, Adrian Stevens, said that iSoft will invest in a new 75-strong UK based development team.

“We’ve put development centres of excellence back into the UK; that’s 75 new people working on interoperability, business intelligence, medications management and hosted Synergy,” he said.

“Isoft needs to behave like a market leader and will be bringing in new products to the market."



Size of radiation doses in doubt

Julie Robotham HEALTH EDITOR

November 11, 2010

CANCER patients may be receiving inaccurate radiation therapy doses because Australia has no formal program to check that linear accelerator machines are accurately calibrated.

A US audit had found as many as 30 per cent of facilities failed to deliver a dose accurate to within a 7 per cent margin, Annette Haworth, a medical physicist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, said.

"We haven't done this in Australia yet so we can't tell you whether we're as bad," Associate Professor Haworth told the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia's annual scientific meeting in Melbourne yesterday.



Should this IT project take longer to finish than Brunel's Great Western Railway?

It took six years to finish the Great Western Railway - and 10-15 years to complete the NPfIT "Lorenzo" project

Adrian Stevens, the UK managing director of NHS software supplier iSoft, says that people have been unrealistic about how long major IT programmes take to deliver.

He was speaking about the iSoft "Lorenzo" patient administration system which is due to be installed by NPfIT local service provider CSC at dozens of NHS trusts. Lorenzo was due to be installed in 2004 but has been delayed.



Fibre to the bootstraps: how Labor shackled its future to broadband

  • Jennifer Hewett and Mitchell Bingemann
  • From: The Australian
  • November 06, 2010 12:00AM

IN March 2007, new opposition leader Kevin Rudd grabbed hold of the promise of high-speed broadband internet for the country and for the Labor Party.

Once in government, Rudd declared, Labor would back a $4.7 billion public investment in a new national fibre-optic network with rapid capacity.

This was sold as just the sort of "nation-building investment" that only a Labor government would undertake. It was, Rudd proudly told the party's national conference, "Labor to its bootstraps".

His passionate enthusiasm was only partly due to the long-term potential of the technology. More important politically was its short-term potential to redefine Labor as the party of the future.



Treasury warns over costings for the NBN

  • Sid Maher and Stefanie Balogh
  • From: The Australian
  • November 10, 2010 12:00AM

TREASURY has warned cabinet it needs to give "very careful consideration" to the National Broadband Network's implementation study over coming months.

The department argued that the project carried significant risks to the national balance sheet.

The advice to cabinet, originally suppressed when Treasury's incoming brief to the government was released under Freedom of Information laws in September, was revealed yesterday.

The release of the advice comes after the Department of Communications and Broadband revealed in its brief to the government that the company overseeing the rollout of the NBN disagreed with the McKinsey-KPMG implementation study over recommendations relating to the design of the high-speed broadband network and the nature of the prices and products NBN Co would offer to customers.



Firefox 4 approaches warp speeds with JägerMonkey

The Mozilla Firefox browser is three to five times faster than version 3.6, thanks not only to the JägerMonkey engine

We've known for some time now that the JägerMonkey JavaScript engine seen in recent nightly preview builds of Firefox 4 would increase the browser's speed, but yesterday's release of the seventh beta version of the software shows performance increases beyond what many of us might have imagined.

That's due in large part to JägerMonkey, but also in part to the addition of support for hardware-accelerated graphics and hardware acceleration for Windows XP and Mac OS X. Firefox 4 Beta 7 also enables 3D capabilities without the need for plug-ins using WebGL.

Taken together, the result is that pages load faster and interactions with Web sites are "snappier," Mozilla says. The free and open source browser is really, really fast, in other words -- three times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 is on both the Kraken and Sunspider JavaScript benchmark test suites, and a full five times better on version 6 of the V8 benchmark.





Anonymous said...

"RACGP has brought its innovative, interactive e-health display - e-health Futures - to Sydney."

It's been in ACT, Melbourne and Adelaide.
How many visitors have attended at each location?

As the College is spending my membership fees I would like to know how much this exercise is costing and how many people have attended. Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...


You continue to put articles about NHS (UK) in the Australian links. You do this, you claim, because iSoft is an Australian company.

Can you please be consistent and put links about international companies in the international category. This includes the stories about STI tests, laptops, iPads and browsers from the above.

Dr David G More MB PhD said...

Sorry, the short answer is no.

The way it works is that content sourced from Australia (or material on iSoft goes here) and internationally sourced material comes at the end of the week.

If you don't like my content selection and arrangement set up your own blog.