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, January 31, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 31 January, 2011.

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, Australia Day has passed and 2011 has begun in earnest.

The main news last week was dominated by discussions about what should happen to HealthSMART. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

My suggestions are here:


There are also some good comments from the readers.

We can expect a similar review in NSW within weeks of the March 2011 election there - which it looks like the Coalition will win in a landslide or more. Will be interesting to see how that plays out also.

We also need to see some answers from NEHTA and DoHA on key forward directions real soon now - as the year has really now begun!



Computers usurp GP during consultations

The presence of computers has altered the dynamics of a GP consultation, with patients now subconsciously relating more to the computer than the doctor as the ultimate source of information, a Melbourne study suggests.

Video analysis of patients’ body language during 141 GP consultations has shown that the doctor-patient relationship has become ‘triadic’ by also involving the computer.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Society (online 24 Jan), study author Dr Chris Pearce says computers have shifted the balance of power in the doctor-patient relationship, allowing patients to set or alter the agenda of the consultation.

Patients presenting for a prescription or test results, for example, may gaze intently at the computer screen rather than the doctor, and thus shift the focus of the consultation.

”No longer are doctors seen as the ultimate authority in the consultation. In fact, the computer was often brought into play by patients to directly challenge the doctor’s authority,” Dr Pearce observes.



GPs not ready for e-health records

General practitioners association calls for greater focus on education and support

General Practitioners are not technically nor functionally ready for the advent of personal e-health records, a representative body for the industry has warned.

In a public submission to the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) on the federal budget for 2011-2012, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners urged the Federal Government to spend more on programs to aid implementation of software, communication standards and comprehensive support for general practitioners looking to implement the government’s $467 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR).



NEHTA congratulates Dr Mukesh Haikerwal (AO)

Congratulations to Dr Mukesh Haikerwal who was made an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia "for distinguished service to medical administration, to the promotion of public health through leadership roles with professional organisations, particularly the Australian Medical Association, to the reform of the Australian health system through the optimisation of information technology, and as a general practitioner."



Doctor applauds colleagues and community

January 26, 2011

TWO years after a brutal assault that nearly claimed his life, a Williamstown doctor has been recognised in the Australia Day honours for his work helping others.

Mukesh Haikerwal will today be appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

In September 2008, he underwent emergency surgery at Footscray's Western Hospital to remove blood clots from his brain after being bashed with a baseball bat near his Williamstown home.



Orion in 'the right place at the right time' for e-health growth

NEW Zealand software company Orion Health is the surprise linchpin of emerging e-health consortiums both globally and in Australia.

Orion is on an expansion drive, with its e-health records and information exchange products boosting revenue 80 per cent in the first half of 2010-11 compared with the previous year.

With 22 major projects in 12 countries, Orion believes prospects are finally looking up in Australia, with the federal government's new emphasis on e-health.

Late last year, Orion, with consortium leader Accenture and partners IBM, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard, bagged a $146 million contract to deliver Singapore's national e-health records (NEHR) project.

Singapore's Ministry of Health says NEHR is a key part of its vision for "one Singaporean, one health record" for 5 million citizens. It builds on previous investments in integrated clinical management systems, a hospital records exchange hub and a GP IT program.



Aussies blinkered in vision race: local researchers face global competition in bionic market

WHEN this picture ran on the front page of The Australian in April 2008, Minas Coroneo and his tiny team had a prototype bionic eye ready for human trials. All that was missing was $200,000- $300,000 to run the trials with the 10 volunteers.

"While the device will not immediately achieve 20-20 vision, as the technology advances the bionic eye will evolve," he said then, adding that simply having the ability to navigate "would be a huge breakthrough" for people with impaired vision.

Since then much has happened, none of it foreseen by Coroneo, an ophthalmologist, researcher and chairman of the Genetic Eye Foundation in Sydney.

Following former prime minister Kevin Rudd's 2020 summit, the government committed $50 million over four years to support development of a functional bionic eye. Bionic Vision Australia received $42m; Monash Vision Group got $8m for its direct-to-brain bionic eye project; and Coroneo's group, nothing.



Health myki faces axe

Kate Hagan

January 24, 2011

THE state government is considering abandoning Victoria's trouble-plagued $360 million health technology program, with Health Minister David Davis admitting he faces ''a genuine dilemma with 'the myki of the health system' ''.

The HealthSMART program - five years late and $35 million over budget - is supposed to link computer systems in hospitals and introduce processes such as electronic prescribing.

But clinical applications are only partially running in just four hospitals, and doctors say patient safety is compromised by inadequate procedures that causes them to duplicate paperwork, chase test results and compete for access to computer terminals.



Health IT program Healthsmart faces the axe

  • Jessica Craven
  • From: Herald Sun
  • January 24, 2011 12:43AM

THE future of a $360 million program designed to improve care in Victorian hospitals is under a cloud.

The Australian Medical Association has called for an additional $260 million to be invested in the botched HealthSMART program, which is five years late and $35 million over budget.

The patient management system was designed to link hospital computer systems.

Health Minister David Davis told the Herald Sun the program was under review but would not be drawn on reports the Government was considering axing it.



System is sick, not dead

Dr Harry Hemley

January 25, 2011

FOR those unfamiliar with computer systems in Victoria's public hospitals, you would probably have to cast your mind back to the early 1990s to realise just how poor the information technology networks are in our supposedly world-class health program.

We're talking paper-based records, people queuing to use the available computer terminals and the difficulty sharing information with off-site colleagues. For patients in our public hospitals, the ramifications of poor IT systems are serious.

The problem starts from the time a person is treated in the emergency department and doctors and nurses aren't able to get access to the person's history of care with their general practitioner.



'Too late' to kill e-health program

Kate Hagan

January 25, 2011

THE state government should stick with Victoria's bungled $360 million health technology program because it was finally starting to deliver some benefits, an e-health expert has argued.

Mukesh Haikerwal, who is the federal government's clinical advisor on e-health, said the HealthSMART program had ''a long tortuous history'' but cost savings would not be made by ditching it, only to start again from scratch to build an electronic system to share patient information in hospitals.

The Age revealed yesterday that the state government was considering abandoning the program, which is five years late and $35 million over budget.



Victoria’s e-health system may still yield benefits: Experts

24. January 2011 21:22

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

According to e-health experts, the state government should continue to patronize Victoria’s $360 million health technology program because it was finally starting to deliver some benefits.

According to Mukesh Haikerwal, who is federal government’s clinical advisor on e-health added that the HealthSMART program may not have been a roaring success but abandoning it now would only mean starting from the scratch to build an electronic system to share patient information in hospitals. There has been news that the state government was considering abandoning the program, which is five years late and $35 million over budget. Health Minister David Davis said the new government faced “a genuine dilemma with the make of the health system.”



iSOFT apps now on BlackBerry

Wednesday 26th January 2011

iSOFT Group Limited has joined the BlackBerry Alliance Program as a BlackBerry Alliance Elite Member under moves to introduce applications for care beyond traditional settings and hospital walls.

The company is working on a range of applications to help clinical staff deliver care more efficiently and patients to manage their conditions more effectively. These include apps for doctors to download daily workloads and appointments, for community nurses to record patient details and for patients to check vital signs, arrange appointments and referrals, and order repeat prescriptions.



Thousands of nurses to miss registration deadline

Julia Medew

January 25, 2011

THOUSANDS of Victorian nurses and midwives are at risk of being unable to work next week because they have not registered with the new national registration and accreditation scheme for health professionals.

A spokeswoman for the regulation agency, Nicole Newton, said about 5000 of the state's 84,000 nurses had not had their applications processed yesterday, despite being told last year the deadline was December 31.

She said a grace period of one month meant any nurse or midwife not registered by Monday would not be able to practise and would have to start the registration process again rather than transferring from the Victorian register to the national one.

Comment: Remember this agency is meant to provide the source information for NASH and the HI Service.



Qld Health starts iPad trial

By Renai LeMay, ZDNet.com.au on January 25th, 2011

Queensland Health this week revealed it was running a trial of Apple's hyped iPad tablet, deploying the device within its administrative employees, although tests with clinical staff have not yet kicked off.

The department's executive director of ICT service delivery, Phil Woolley, said the department was running a limited pilot program to determine potential solutions and services suitable for iPads and other similar devices. However, Woolley said, the deployment was restricted to administration staff only and the iPads have not been trialled for clinical purposes yet.

"Queensland Health has not formulated a view on the performance or usability of the iPad in clinical environments at this stage," he said.



You want a drink? Give us your fingerprints

Natalie O'Brien and Eamonn Duff

January 30, 2011

THOUSANDS of clubbers and pub patrons are being forced to submit to fingerprint and photographic scans to enter popular venues, seemingly unaware of the ramifications of handing over their identity.

Biometric scanners, once the domain of James Bond movies, are flooding the pub market as the fix-all solution to violence and antisocial behaviour. The pubs are exerting more power than the police or airport security by demanding photos, fingerprints and ID. Police can only do it if they suspect someone of committing a crime and they must destroy the data if the person is not charged or found not guilty.

Yet one company boasts that the sensitive information collected about patrons can be kept for years and shared with other venues in the country - in what appears to be a breach of privacy laws.

There are no official checks and balances on how the data is collected, stored, used or shared. Federal Privacy Commissioner Tim Pilgrim has warned he does not have the power to audit the systems and the lack of regulation has even industry players calling for tighter controls.



Web addresses drying up

THE internet is running out of addresses.

With everything from smartphones to appliances and cars getting online, the group entrusted with organising the web is running out of the "IP" numbers that identify destinations for digital traffic.

The touted solution is a switch to a standard called IPv6 that allows trillions of internet addresses, while the current IPv4 standard provides a meagre four billion or so. "The big pool in the sky that gives addresses is going to run out in the next several weeks," said Google engineer Lorenzo Colitti, who is leading the internet giant's transition to the new standard. "IPv6 is the only . . . solution."



Google's guru puts the case for IPv6

AFTER years of talk, internet pioneer Vint Cerf says it's time to act on switching to the new internet address standard, IPv6.

Google's chief internet evangelist said he would "do everything I possibly can" to get Google involved in demonstrations and testing over coming months.

"The IP version 4 address space will be formally exhausted from ICANN's (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number) point of view within the next few weeks, maybe less," he said at an Internet Society of Australia reception in Sydney.

"The allocation of the last of the IPv4 blocs to regional internet registries is an important milestone.



LibreOffice 3.3 released, first since OpenOffice split

More enhancements scheduled for February 2011

LibreOffice, the fork of the open source OpenOffice.org productivity suite, has released it’s first stable product in version 3.3, now available for download.

LibreOffice is a project of the newly formed The Document Foundation which started in September last year following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the principal sponsor of the OpenOffice.org project.

Since its inception, LibreOffice has grown from 20 to more than 100 contributors, many of whom left the OpenOffice.org community project.




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