Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - 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."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 28 November, 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:

The following article reports what is a real bit of stupidity and nonsense if true.


E-health privacy attracts concern, not complaints

Researcher highlights gap between perceptions and reality.

A CSIRO privacy researcher has blamed "leading questions" for the persistence of public e-health concerns despite there being few actual complaints about researchers' use of the data.

Researcher Christine O'Keefe studied Australian regulations and perceptions about using health data in medical research.

The study came as the Government developed a $62 million Population Health Research Network, expected to link scientists with e-health data sources around the country.

By 2012, the network would bring together various statewide "data linkage units", which each stored de-identified data from hospitals, government and academia.

----- End Extract.

It seems this researcher is a little ignorant of work done elsewhere which has identified a range of issues with a range of anonymisation techniques where personal information has been re-linked with clinical information using a variety of data-mining techniques.

In these areas perception is reality and in this country there is a real suspicion about large national databases unless the governance and transparency is handled very well indeed. Blaming researchers for public perceptions is just plain dumb in my view. Explaining what you are doing, why and what the safeguards are will work much better!

Here is an editorial from the US on the topic.


Privacy concerns could block road to public health goals

By Jeff Rowe, Editor

For HIT proponents, one of the many benefits of moving the healthcare sector to EHRs is that easily accessible patient data will enhance efforts to improve the overall health of American citizens.

But a recent survey on patient privacy concerns suggests that, at least when it comes to the sharing of health-related data, public health advocates will need to tread lightly.

According to reports, the survey, sponsored by Patient Privacy Rights, a health privacy advocacy group, shows that “ninety-seven per cent of Americans believe that doctors, hospitals, labs and health technology systems should not be allowed to share or sell their sensitive health information without consent.

“The poll also found strong opposition to insurance companies gaining access to electronic health records without permission. Ninety-eight per cent of respondents opposed payers sharing or selling health information without consent.”

I hope we all get a good education from the E-Health Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday!



E-health record to contain basic patient details

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 25, 2010 11:32AM

THE Gillard government's much-vaunted $467 million personally-controlled e-health record due by July 2012 will in the first instance be a modest patient health summary drawn from existing data sources.

There are no details about summary record information but basic health data includes current medications, allergies and any chronic health conditions.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday put $55m in grant funding on the table for healthcare organisations that want to develop PCEHR systems and become lead sites for the nation’s e-health rollout.

Grant application documents reveal the headline $467m over two years will “provide the capability to produce nationally consistent patient health summaries from compliant information sources” for patients who choose to participate.

But a fully developed e-health record is still some way off.



$55m set aside for new e-health sites

By Suzanne Tindal, ZDNet.com.au on November 25th, 2010

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday called for the next round of organisations wanting to be involved in the government's e-health record roll-out, holding out $55 million to kick start a second round of e-health sites.

Roxon said that applications were welcome from Divisions of General Practice, professional organisations, non-government organisations and the private sector, in addition to others involved in Australian healthcare.

Organisations wanting to be involved have to file an application with the Department of Health and Ageing's tender site by 23 December 2010. The new sites are expected to be chosen next year.



Top ten most influential of 2010: E-health

Was 2010 the year of e-health?


Coming in at number four for Computerworld Australia's Top Ten Most Influential list for 2010: E-health.


Amidst the clamour of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and telecommunications reform in the halls of Australian Parliament, few technological issues have been given priority in 2010 as e-health.

A bit like ‘the Cloud’, the meaning and placement of e-health differs depending on who you talk to. For some, it’s the ability to simply identify someone with a unique number; others demand fully fledged health records. Then there’s the whole kit and kaboodle - electronical tags monitoring the entire process from the patient’s entry to the hospital, to the bed to the small vials of medication administered. As robotic as it sounds, for all intents and purposes advocates hope e-health will streamline the health system and cut down on waste and, more importantly, errors.

For all the talk in 2010 among doctors, corporations, industry professionals and government, much of the talk surrounding e-health has been conjecture. In Australia, at least, e-health is progressing in small steps rather than leaps and bounds. The education around cultural change and awareness that must go on - as well as the debates around privacy and other implications - are an immense forewarning of just how large an undertaking e-health really is.


Lack of public engagement blamed for failure of online record

25th Nov 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

A BRITISH study highlighting the failure of the National Health Service’s personal health record has led e-health experts to caution local policy-makers against failing to engage with health consumers.

The study revealed that while more than 2.4 million people received letters inviting them to open an account with HealthSpace, the UK version of a personal health record, just 173,000 had done so.

Researchers also surveyed patients who had opened an account, and found that the record was perceived as “neither useful nor easy to use”.



Autonomy looks for meaning in health data


Autonomy has announced a new set of clinical diagnosis and information governance technologies for the healthcare market.

The platform is designed to confront a constantly growing volume of unstructured and structured healthcare information, increasingly complex industry regulations, and heightened patient expectations and empowerment. Also, healthcare providers worldwide face an increasing pressure to move to Electronic Health Records (EHR).

Autonomy Auminence, al point-of-care analysis dashboard, is designed to help the provider make better quality, data-driven, evidence-based diagnosis decisions. Based on Autonomy's Bayesian inference technology, it allows a healthcare professional to combine their personal knowledge with the wealth of knowledge that exists on the patient and their symptoms, clinical features, and related diseases - contained in the vast volumes of "human-friendly" information that make up healthcare data.



Health appoints Paul Madden CIO

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 22, 2010 1:29PM

THE Health Department has appointed its first chief information officer, Paul Madden, who comes from the Tax Office where he oversaw the recently completed Standard Business Reporting program.

Health secretary Jane Halton said Mr Madden had "a wealth of highly developed IT and organisational experience, as well as strategic advisory and leadership experience''.

Mr Madden assumes responsibility for boosting departmental IT capabilities in support of the Gillard government's $467 million personal e-health record initiative, and will report directly to Ms Halton.



WA mandate Project Stop

25 November 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

Pharmacists in Western Australia (WA) will have to make real time electronic records of all of all pseudoephedrine products as the State Government adopts Project Stop.

By mandating the use of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s pseudoephedrine sales recording system the WA Government has followed in the governments of Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT in their fight against methamphetamine manufacturers.

A spokesperson for the Guild said Project Stop helped pharmacists to make decisions about whether or not to sell cold and flu medications containing the drug used in the production of methamphetamine.



Search is on for GP helpline service provider

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • November 23, 2010 11:37AM

THE federally-funded National Health Call Centre Network is hunting a service provider for the $400 million GP helpline promised in the May budget.

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Julia Gillard threw in an extra $50m for video-conferencing facilities, so the helpline can also offer medical services online.

The GP after-hours access program is to operate under the Medicare Locals umbrella, which will see the construction of 450 GP super-clinics.

However, discussions with the medical profession, consumers and industry over the shape of Medicare Locals are continuing.

Doctors groups have warned the withdrawal of $58m in funds for GP after-hours services when the hotline opens will end home visits and shut-down current arrangements.



Computer use in consults may have negative effects

23rd Nov 2010

Catherine Hanrahan

RESEARCH showing computer use during consultations is impacting doctor-patient relationships has prompted calls for GPs to undergo training in the best way to use computers while in consultations.

The Dutch study, in which researchers videotaped 1170 patient consultations with 35 GPs, was used along with a patient questionnaire to assess doctors’ computer use in the surgery. The data was collected in 2001 and 2008 with the same doctors.

While the study showed that GPs were using their computers less during consultations in 2008, it revealed that GPs gave significantly less information to their patients if they used computers while the patient was talking.



DoHA grants $55 million to second health record trial sites

The new sites will join the first three selected sites in Brisbane, the Hunter Valley and Melbourne

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has issued a further $55 million in grants to introduce further trial sites for the implementation of personal e-health records.

The new e-health sites will join the first three trial sites in Brisbane, the Hunter Valley and Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and will be among the first to send hospital discharge summaries electronically to GPs and referrals using national specifications.

The funding forms part of the $466.7 million investment announced in the 2010/2011 Federal Budget to be spent over two years for the development of voluntary, personally controlled e-health records from 1 July 2012.



Medical Records Snapped Up

CONFIDENTIAL medical records of thousands of bayside patients have been sold as part of the liquidation of a collapsed national health group.

Personal files of more than 7000 people, containing privileged doctor-patient information, changed hands for an undisclosed sum this month when the The Doctors Company sold assets to the newly established Cleveland Family Practice.

The new practice bought records to stop them falling into the hands of drug companies or independent businesses.



Creepy. That's the secret files verdict

Royce Millar

November 24, 2010

''CREEPY'' but not surprising is how Flemington student Claire Watson responded when The Age described how the ALP had kept a secret electronic file on her.

''Inappropriate,'' she said, was the fact that her file, along with those on thousands of other Victorians in marginal electorates, had been made available to Labor campaign workers to tailor their canvassing ahead of Saturday's election.

After gaining unofficial access to the ALP's campaign data base for a string of such seats, The Age yesterday revealed how the party has recorded the sensitive personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians.

That information - including details about health and financial problems, political activity and voting intentions - has been made available to campaign workers.



Revealed: How the ALP keeps secret files on voters

Royce Millar and Nick McKenzie

November 23, 2010

THE ALP has secretly recorded the personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians - including sensitive health and financial information - in a database being accessed by campaign workers ahead of this Saturday's state election.

In a rare insight into personal profiling by the major parties, The Age has gained access to the database used by the ALP to tailor its telephoning and door-knocking of individual voters in key marginal electorates.

The Coalition has a database capable of similar profiling of voters, but has refused to comment or to divulge any details.



Baillieu vows to release secret voter dossiers, Labor refuses

Royce Millar

November 26, 2010

JOHN Brumby and Ted Baillieu have taken contrasting positions on constituent privacy, with the Labor leader effectively confirming he would deny access to files kept on voters and the Liberal chief vowing to release files wherever possible.

The Age this week revealed how the ALP has recorded sensitive personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians. That information - including details about health and financial problems, political activity and voting intentions - has been made available to campaign workers.

The Liberals have software capable of similar profiling. The Age has not had access to the Liberal database.

Note: These two articles are to remind readers how consumers hate secret databases holding their details. Obvious implications for e-Health.



Faulty payroll system won't be scrapped

Repairing Queensland Health payroll system cheaper than scrapping it

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 23 November, 2010 14:33

The government will spend $209 million to fix Queensland Health's faulty payroll system, state Health Minister Paul Lucas says.

See more on Queensland Health's IT

A new report has found that repairing the system, which cost $64.5 million to implement, rather than scrapping it is the cheapest and safest option.

Mr Lucas has been under fire over the problem-plagued system, which has seen thousands of Queensland Health workers wrongly paid since it was rolled out in March.

An independent report by Ernst and Young, tabled by Mr Lucas on Tuesday, recommends keeping the SAP/WorkBrain payroll and roster system.



E-health record to identify violent patients

26th Nov 2010

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

PATIENTS with a history of violence should be identified by a marker on their e-health record, according to the Northern Ireland branch of the British Medical Association (BMA).

BMA (NI) chair Dr Paul Darragh said information about violent patients should be shared between all healthcare organisations including primary, secondary and community care organisations, to enable staff to take appropriate precautions to ensure their own safety.

The calls come as Northern Ireland deals with an increase in attacks on health and social workers.



Michelle O'Byrne, MP

Minister for Health

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Radiology Leaps the Digital Divide

Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne today announced the go-ahead for a new high tech medical information system that’s set to transform vital aspects of patient care.

Ms O’Byrne said the $2.5 million Radiology Information System / Picture Archiving Communication System (RisPacs) would streamline the handling of patient information and enable doctors and specialists to access diagnostic images without the need to physically transport them around the State.

“This will be cheaper, quicker, much more helpful for doctors in diagnosing the cause of problems, and most importantly far better for patients,” Ms O’Byrne said.



Kings “half way there” on e-prescribing

22 Nov 2010

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has reached the halfway mark for rolling out e-prescribing as part of its iSoft electronic patient record system.

Speaking at an electronic prescribing and medicines administration event in Manchester, Richard Yorke, health informatics consultant at Kings said that the project has been progressing well and the trust has reached its target of rolling out across two wards every month.

Yorke said: “The scope of the project was to get ePMA live and do it quickly and provide a single process for all drugs.

“We now have 22 wards live out of 40 including medicines, neuroscience including theatres and recovery, cardiac and renal, so we are just over halfway there.”



CWZ Nijmegen Renews Contract with iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF)

Sydney, Nov 25, 2010 (ABN Newswire) - iSOFT Group Limited (ASX:ISF) has won a EUR 3 million contract with CWZ hospital at Nijmegen, the Netherlands, for continued support of hospital information system and electronic patient record for a further three years.

The new deal includes an innovation budget of EUR100,000 a year to trial and implement cutting edge technologies to further optimize clinical processes and so improve efficiency and quality and reduce costs at the 650-bed hospital.

"Due to our long standing partnership with iSOFT and the superb experience we have made with the offered solutions we have decided to renew the existing contract", said Mr. Guido van de Logt, member of the board at CWZ. "Additionally the new contract gives us the possibility to leverage new developments and technologies which will make our organization more profitable. I believe that iSOFT offers a very promising concept of future hospital IT systems."



NHS trust numbers look wrong on CSC deal

25 Nov 2010

The Department of Health may be basing a revised £3 billion deal with CSC using inaccurate figures on how many NHS hospital trusts plan to take Lorenzo.

Officially reported figures, seen by EHI, strongly indicate that the vast majority of NHS trusts in the North Midlands and East of England plan to take either Lorenzo or SystmOne electronic patient record software from CSC under the NHS IT programme.

This apparently resolute commitment to Lorenzo remains despite of lengthy delays; significant reductions in functionality; and being offered the chance to take alternative electronic record systems, outside NPfIT.



False hope on 'revolutionary' mental illness diagnostic technique

  • AT THE COALFACE: Melissa Raven
  • From: The Australian
  • November 27, 2010 12:00AM

AUSTRALIANS are being misled by promotion of a "revolutionary" new diagnostic technique for mental illnesses.

Recently the trademarked EVestG system -- short for Electrovestibulography -- won the grand final of ABC1's The New Inventors.

Its designers claim it can diagnose schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder in 45 minutes by measuring brainwaves in the vestibular system.

But it's an unproven experimental procedure.



Crucial Telstra bill paving way for NBN is passed by the Senate

LEGISLATION to split Telstra has passed the Senate after days of intense negotiation and heated debate on a bill that paves the way for the National Broadband Network.

The legislation to separate the retail and wholesale arms of Telstra will now return to the House of Representatives, which has been recalled on Monday to deal with the legislation.

The crucial bill was given the stamp of approval by the Senate at 12:40pm, despite a last ditch effort by the Coalition to extend debate until 4pm this afternoon.


Senators reject 7-year NBN gag

CROSSBENCH MPs have been ordered to sign gag orders as a condition of gaining details of the secret business case for the NBN.

The "draconian" conditions from the government were originally to include a seven-year order of silence but were amended yesterday after the Greens and independent Nick Xenophon refused to sign the deed of confidentiality.

The Gillard government is continuing to defy orders by the Senate and a majority of MPs to publicly release the NBN Co business case, arguing it would be misleading to do so before the competition watchdog issues a key ruling about the National Broadband Network's service hubs on November 30.



Vic Labor to make NBN opt-out

By Josh Taylor, ZDNet.com.au on November 25th, 2010

Victorian residents will have to opt out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out if they don't want to be connected should Labor retain government at Victoria's state election this Saturday.

The move, similar to one announced by the Tasmanian Government earlier this year, was announced today by Victorian ICT Minister John Lenders, who said the opt-out approach would ensure a quicker roll-out of the project in his state.

Lenders said this mandate could either be achieved as part of "a national process in partnership" with the Federal Government to be rolled out across the states or via a change in legislation in Victorian parliament.



Privatisation deal shores up Greens support for NBN bill

  • Joe Kelly, James Massola
  • From: The Australian
  • November 22, 2010 9:53AM

THE GREENS have defended a deal with Labor to make it more difficult to privatise the $43 billion National Broadband Network.

The deal was struck to shore up Greens support in the Senate for a bill which will see the separation of Telstra's retail and wholesale arms.

The agreement will see the government forgo its plan for automatic privatisation of the NBN five years after it is built.

If opposed by the Coalition, the structural separation bill's fate will now rest on the votes of independent senator Nick Xenophon and Family First's Steve Fielding.



12 Ubuntu derivatives you should consider

Canonical’s flagship Linux distribution isn’t the only variation with advantages for business users.

It's no secret that Ubuntu 10.10, or Maverick Meerkat, is one of the most user-friendly Linux distributions of all time for business and home users.

What many people don't realize, however, is that there are several other Linux distributions out there that are also based on Ubuntu and offer many of the same advantages. Some are focused on a specific niche; others are simply variations on the same general theme.

If you're already a fan of Ubuntu or simply want to experience what the excitement is all about, consider the following alternatives for what just may be an even more perfect match with your business's needs.




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