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, December 06, 2010

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 06 December, 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 a very interesting week. We seem to have a collection of spruikers saying that all is wonderful in the e-Health space (after a wonderful e-Health Summit) and others saying they feel the lack of transparency and disclosure about what is planned in the e-Health and what the implications of those plans is on all the various stakeholders will be a major blockage to progress.

At the very least I think the precautionary principle should apply and that, given all the difficulties that have been experienced elsewhere, a careful review of a properly formulated details proposal with costs, benefits, impacts and so on be undertaken by all those involved.

If this is what we will see early next year that will be helpful, but if the present disastrous level of open debate and discussion continues then I predict a real disaster will follow. This outcome is totally avoidable, indeed avoidance is what I for one hope for, and steps to ensure that the bad outcome is avoided must be taken sooner rather than later.

Sadly I am not holding my breath for sudden improvement!



Roxon watching for PCEHR opt-out supporters

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has signalled her willingness to embrace an opt-out approach to the federal government's personally controlled electronic health record system within three to five years.

The PCEHR is a central plank of the government's $467 million health reform agenda, with all Australians to be given the choice of opting into the system by July 2012. The adoption of an "opt-in" strategy is key to the government's strategy to gain the support of influential stakeholders including health industry, privacy and consumer groups.

But when eHealthspace.org questioned Roxon about the likely success of its opt-in strategy at the eHealth Summit in Melbourne today, she indicated communities may eventually prompt a change in focus to opt-out.



CIO’s view of E-Health challenge


In May 2010, the Federal Government announced it plans to spend $467 million over two years to introduce "personally controlled" individual electronic health records as part of a national health reform agenda.

Australia is nearly 18 months away from the scheduled delivery of a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) for every citizen who wants one.

“The health sector, because of its history, has a lot of homegrown solutions that people are familiar with and moving to another standard is quite a challenge. Change management is going to be difficult but not impossible.”Like many in the healthcare industry, Doug Horsley is keen to learn how the PCEHR will work in practice.

Will it be a push to encourage Australians to upload their data to hosted offerings such as those available from Google or Microsoft? Will it be a centrally controlled database maintained at the state or federal level?

And if the individual truly has “personal” control over their record, how will a physician or clinician view it as a legitimate basis to recommend any treatment?

Horsley is Chief Information Officer at Australia’s largest Catholic not for profit private healthcare group, St John of God Health Care (SJGHC).



Queensland Health blocking hospital error reports from Right to Information access

ERRORS in public hospitals are being hidden from Queenslanders under a secret Health Department scheme.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Queensland Health chiefs told the department's independent Right to Information decision-makers to block access to so-called clinical incident data detailing health bungles at hospitals across the state.

The errors censored can include reports about mix-ups of newborns, patients being wrongly medicated or surgery errors which shed light on the problems in the health system.



GP uses USB stick to share patients' records

By Gemma Collins

The government’s plans for e-health may still be under debate, but one GP practice has been developing its own type of shared record system by using a simple USB stick.

Patients at Vale Medical Clinic in Brookvale in NSW have had all their medical details transferred onto a data stick.

And so when they find themselves in an emergency department, doctors have all their information to-hand.



Now there's an app to fight cancer

November 25, 2010

The iPhone has been drafted into the fight against cancer.

The phone's multitudinous user base in Australia now has easy access to up-to-the-minute and location specific advice on UV levels, and when sun protection is necessary.

Cancer Council Australia announced on Thursday its "SunSmart" app had been listed on the iTunes store, and it was free to download.

"With UV levels likely to reach extreme levels in many parts of Australia over the next few months, it is important that people know when to use sun protection," Professor Ian Olver said.



New alliance represents consumers in e-health

A NEW Consumers e-Health Alliance of parties are keen to be "at the table'' as the Gillard government rolls out its $467 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record program (PCEHR).

The emerging network comprises people from organisations wanting to ensure health consumers' interests are adequately represented during implementation.

The CeHA has already won support from the Australian GP Network and the Medical Software Industry Association.



E-health group strengthens lobbying position

THE Consumers Health Forum has strengthened its lobbying position by becoming a company.

The independent grassroots organisation has been playing a larger role in co-ordinating consumer responses to federal government projects, including e-health initiatives.

Over the past two years, the CHF has received more than $2 million in contracts and grants to run a community support secretariat and provide policy input on e-health records, private health insurance reforms, pathology and an MBS review.



Telehealth 'at the chemist'

RURAL patients having remote video consultations with city-based medical specialists will not necessarily be in their GP's surgery.

A government discussion paper on the Gillard government's $400 million telehealth plan says the services could be centralised in a pharmacy or community centre in small towns and a GP might not have to sit in on all the consultations.

The telehealth plan was the centrepiece of Julia Gillard's election campaign launch, and the service is being promoted by the federal government as one of the breakthroughs that its $35.7 billion National Broadband Network will provide.



Guild welcomes pharmacy-based telehealth

30 November 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

Plans to make pharmacies in rural and remote parts of Australia hubs for telehealth are being supported by Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Speaking to Pharmacy eNews after the release of a Government discussion paper, which said pharmacies, could be used to link rural patients seeking video consultations with city-based specialists, Guild president Kos Sclavos said community pharmacy was well positioned to provide online conferencing facilities.

“It’s an indication of pharmacy’s accessibility and connectivity, that some patients may be able to go to a pharmacy and have a video consultation with a specialist.



Mobile Phone Applications Could Help Revolutionise Health Care in Australia

30 November 2010. Accessing a patient’s record may be as easy as using a mobile phone application as the Government’s investment in e-Health revolutionises health care in Australia. A demonstration iPhone app has been developed to show how Doctors could access a patient’s record easily with e-Health records including x ray results and allergies, making diagnosis quicker and safer.



An iPhone app will not fix Australia’s e-health woes

blog Hilarious news comes from the Federal Government’s flagship e-health conference in Melbourne this week, where Health Minister has revealed that part of Labor’s $466.7 million national e-health project will be spent on … an iPhone app for doctors. Quoth ZDNet:

The app is still in the development stage, but a demonstration of the app at the conference showed that doctors would be able to access a patient’s e-health record. The record could potentially contain information such as x-ray results or allergy details, depending on what the patient chose to provide.

Where do I even begin here? How about the fact that any iPhone application is ultimately only a window into the incredibly complex mishmash of technology platforms that constitutes Australia’s e-health systems — with a different set of them for every state, and sometimes even different sets within each state?



Smart technology for health longevity

Read the full text

PDF Smart technology for health longevity

15 July 2010

With the demographic ageing of Australia’s population, a suite of emerging innovative technologies offers the prospect of enhanced security, safety, diagnosis, treatment and physical assistance to improve the quality of life for elderly people, to help them remain at home, and to provide financial savings in aged care and medical treatment.

There is already a substantial investment in research and development capacity in this area in Australia but more needs to be done to maintain, strengthen and coordinate this activity and to ensure that public and private aged care authorities and organisations can effectively utilise the outcomes. The Australian Government has a critical role to play by promoting a National Research and Development Agenda on Technology and Ageing to complement the National Strategy on Ageing and the recently announced National Enabling Technologies Strategy.



The Australian Government outlines key issues with telehealth scheme

The success of the initiative is reliant on a number of issues in the delivery process

Establishing a clear deployment model and providing financial incentives for health care providers are some of the key issues to be resolved if telehealth services are to be successfully rolled out across Australia, according to the Department of Health and Ageing.

The issues, detailed in a discussion paper by the department, includes specifics around the implementation of the services, how the service will work, which medical specialties will work best in the online format, and potential technical issues.

The paper is seeking comment on practice models that are best suited to the system, for instance, whether a general practitioner (GP), a specialist or a nurse is required for an online consultation, or whether every GP in a given area will need online consultation facilities, as opposed to a centrally located facility to service all practices. It also looks to examine ways of linking practices with specialists and scheduling joint online consultations.



NBN first release sites to trial telehealth

Federal Government provides $4 million in funding to NSW Health to trial high-speed health monitoring

Two of the first mainland release sites under the National Broadband Network (NBN) will receive telehealth monitoring units in coming months, as part of a $4 million trial conducted by NSW Health.

As part of the trial, telehealth monitoring units and videoconferencing systems will be installed in homes and primary healthcare clinics of veterans with chronic diseases and those aged over 65 in the sites of Armidale and Kiama Downs. Under the rollout of the NBN, each of the sites are expected to encompass up to 6000 premises connected to speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps).



NBN sites Armidale, Kiama Downs to test e-health in NSW

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • December 01, 2010 1:31PM

NSW Health will conduct telehealth trials in the mainland NBN pilot sites of Armidale and Kiama Downs.

Funding will come from the federal government's $4 million pot, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said.

The Digital Regions grant will allow NSW to pilot remote healthcare delivery directly into the homes of people aged over 65 with chronic medical conditions, via high-quality video-conferencing links.

"Armidale and the Hunter New England region has built a strong foundation for using telehealth to deliver improved services in hospitals and regional communities," Senator Conroy said.



Roxon says 5CPA a model for e-health

1 December 2010 | by Nick O'Donoghue

The Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement is an example of how e-health systems can work, according to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

Speaking at the Government’s e-Health Conference in Melbourne yesterday the Minister highlighted a number of e-health initiatives funded in the agreement with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

She said aspects of the agreement would reduce duplication of medical information in nursing homes and record data on controlled drugs.



ISoft chief goes in hard with the apologies

David Symons

December 1, 2010

AS THE annual meeting season draws to a close, the award for the most grovelling chairman's address looks set to go to debt-laden healthcare software company iSoft, whose shares have tumbled 90 per cent over the past year.

ISoft's recently installed chairman, Robert Moran, yesterday reserved a large chunk of his address to explain ''how and why we got it wrong''.

Moran said ''we were too slow to react to the changed economic environment'', ''we failed to achieve the growth levels'', and ''we are carrying too much debt for the level of trading''.



Medication Errors Reduced 60% with iSOFT's MedChart

Monday, November 29, 2010 - iSOFT Group

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, November 29, 2010 – Exciting new Australian research presented at the Health Informatics Conference (HIC) 2010 shows that electronic medication management has the potential to markedly reduce prescribing errors by more than half. Medication errors affect some 189,000 Australian hospital admissions every year and cost the health system an estimated $1 billion.

The study titled, “The effectiveness of an electronic medication management system to reduce prescribing errors in hospital http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=430012692310760;res=IELHEA is the first Australian research of its kind. Professor Johanna Westbrook, Director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, University of New South Wales was the study lead author.

The study authors examined the introduction and use of MedChart, the iSOFT Medication Management solution http://www.isofthealth.com/en/Solutions/HospitalsandClinics/MedicationManagement.aspx, within a mental health unit of an Australian teaching hospital. The solution included an electronic medication chart, and combined prescribing, clinical pharmacy review and drug administration.



Debt-laden iSoft mulls sale option

TROUBLED iSoft has revealed it could sell its whole business, after being pushed by disgruntled shareholders at its annual meeting today.

The debt-laden health IT company is conducting a wide-ranging strategic review, after its $383 million loss in August, to pay down $240m in drawn down debt.

The group is looking to overhaul its capital structure chairman Robert Moran described as "wrong" and is looking at asset sales and cost cutting measures.

iSoft this month broke stricter covenants, which saw its banks, including Westpac and National Australia Bank bring forward the maturity of ₤82.5m ($133m) in debt by more than a year to March 15, 2012.



Debt-laden iSoft Group in the market for a buyer

THE troubled iSoft Group has revealed that the "for sale" sign is up, as it continues to assess ways to repay its $240 million debts.

At the health IT company's annual general meeting in Sydney yesterday, chairman Robert Moran told a disgruntled shareholder selling the whole business was possible.

"Yes, it's one of the options," he said, without revealing if an offers had been received.

The shareholder questioned iSoft's management after the company gave little guidance and the shares plunged 90 per cent this year. The shares lifted 5.4 per cent yesterday to 7.8c.

"The reason I think probably all of us are here is because we think it's worth more than 7c," Mr Moran said.




Dutch hospital extends iSoft contract

29 Nov 2010

The Canisius-Wilhelmina Ziekenhuis Hospital in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, has signed a €3m contract with iSoft for continued support of its hospital information system and electronic patient record for a further three years.

The 650-bed hospital first implemented iSoft’s v2 HIS and Mirador EPR, both of which are specifically designed for the Netherlands, four years ago.

As well as support, the new deal includes an annual €100,000 ‘innovation budget’ to trial and implement new technologies provided by iSoft that will aim to further optimise clinical processes and improve efficiency and quality and reduce costs.



Bush GPs fear NBN price

  • Annabel Hepworth and Mitchell Bingemann
  • From: The Australian
  • December 01, 2010 12:00AM

RURAL doctors are worried they will have to pay more for high-speed broadband than health professionals in urban Australia.

They are urging the government to ensure they don't, as fears grow that the Gillard government's post-election pledge of a uniform nationwide price faces a major challenge.

As the government yesterday insisted the National Broadband Network would facilitate its e-health initiatives, the National Rural Health Alliance said it was crucial that the model used for postage stamps -- where a single price was used nationwide -- was applied to the NBN.

The alliance's chairwoman, Jenny May -- who has a general practice in Tamworth, in the New England region of NSW -- said it was crucial that broadband was affordable to all Australians.

The group wants "universal affordability similar to the postage stamp model so that someone who is running a business in Borrona could do it with the same infrastructure cost of someone in Sydney", she said.



The NBN is not enough

Paul Budde

Published 6:41 AM, 1 Dec 2010 Last update 10:18 AM, 1 Dec 2010

My promotion of high-speed broadband – in Australia and also in NZ, USA, UK, NL and the UN – has been geared towards a trans-sectoral approach.

That means that it is not sufficient to simply say that the network is there and that the services will now develop – active government policies are then needed to direct the other sectors to start using the digital infrastructure for those services and access to an open network needs to be made available on a genuine wholesale basis.

This means that money must be reallocated towards the digital economy. In Australia active e-health, e-education and smart grid policies are now in place, all aimed at directing these sectors to use the NBN.

This has not been the case in countries quoted in the recent report Superfast: Is It Really Worth a Subsidy?, by telecommunications consultant and Robert Kenny and his brother Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the US centre for global development.

That report argues that the social and economic benefits of high-speed broadband networks are oversold.

I agree that to simply roll out a broadband network and then hope for those applications to arrive is not working, and will never work. Also, these trans-sector services typically require a national approach.



NBN benefits "grossly overstated": study

Benefits of e-health, smart-grids and online education bear little relationship to fibre-to-the-home

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 29 November, 2010 08:5

An international study has found the claimed benefits of a national broadband network have been "grossly overstated", and accuses the federal government of misusing research to build the case for it.

Fairfax newspapers say the study, prepared by the British telecommunications consultant Robert Kenny and Charles Kenny from the US Centre for Global Development, was released in London before the vote on Monday on legislation paving the way for the NBN.

It found the evidence to support claims made for fibre-to-the-home networks was "surprisingly weak" and cited Australia as a key example.



NBN's benefits grossly overstated, study reveals

Peter Martin

November 29, 2010

THE federal government has been accused of misusing research to build the case for the National Broadband Network in an international study that finds the claimed benefits ''grossly overstated''.

Released in London ahead of today's vote in Canberra on legislation to support the NBN, the study finds evidence to support the claims made for fibre-to-the-home ''surprising weak'' and cites Australia as a key example.

''All else equal, faster is better,'' says the study, prepared by British telecommunications consultant Robert Kenny with Charles Kenny from the US Centre for Global Development.

''But faster technologies don't always triumph; think of passenger hovercraft, maglev trains, and supersonic airliners. Concorde (if it hadn't retired) would still be the fastest passenger aircraft today, having first flown in 1969. It turned out that the incremental benefits of speed to most customers were not worth the extra cost.''



Top 15 free tools for every Windows desktop

15 free (or nearly free) Windows utilities for a fast, productive desktop environment

If you haven't looked at the Windows utilities landscape lately, you're in for a big surprise. Many of the old favorites have changed, bringing new features to Windows 7, as well as XP. Others have fallen by the wayside, replaced by upstarts that deliver meaningful functionality that once cost big bucks.

But where to begin? After all, there is almost no end to the number of tools offered for Windows desktops. To help guide you on your quest to find the best free tools available for Windows, I poured through reviews, sifted through hundreds of websites, and canvassed Windows-savvy customers and colleagues to see which products actually help Windows users work faster and free up time for more important things in their business day -- and in their lives.




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