Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 22 February, 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:

It has been quite a busy week. It now really seems to new year is really settling into its stride with, again, little apparent progress in the e-Health agenda.

As a bit of the heads up we have the Senate Estimates hearing on the Health and Ageing Portfolio on Wed 23, February 2011.

When available the program will be found here:

I am sure it will be interesting.


Department of Health reveals e-health partner requirements

Single private sector partner to oversee implementation and ongoing maintenance of e-health records

A single party will be responsible for the establishment and ongoing operation of the technology infrastructure required to implement the Federal Government’s $467 million personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR).

Documents reveal the Department of Health and Ageing is requesting a tender for provision of “national infrastructure solution services”, to be provided by one of four private sector partners aiding the development and implementation of the PCEHR system.

The winning bidder would effectively provide and entire bundle of enabling systems including core system infrastructure; operations and call centres; reporting and template servicing; and separated portals for use by both consumers and healthcare providers.

While some of the pieces of infrastructure could be outsourced to third-party providers, the partner would be responsible for detailed, fit-for-purpose design for the infrastructure as well as operability testing and ongoing support to third parties and lead e-health agency, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) for the system.


Authentication service lagging

LEAD e-health record project sites will not be supported by user verification and audit functions as the federal Health Department concedes the National Authentication Service for Health will not be operational in time.

And a Health spokeswoman says new legislation will be needed before the introduction of the Gillard government's $467 million personally controlled e-health record system in July 2012.


National e-health identifier hazardous, says state agency

VICTORIA'S e-health adoption arm has warned that the $90 million-plus national Healthcare Identifier service is too dangerous to use on its own.

The state's HealthSmart Design Authority says the 16-digit Individual Healthcare Identifier Medicare issued in June to every Australian must only be used in conjunction with an existing Unit Record Number.

It found two critical risks for medical misadventure: misidentification of a patient associated with an IHI, and the inability to identify a patient via an IHI in a healthcare setting.

"Where the IHI is used in conjunction with a local URN, there is a moderately severe risk of a serious and potential life-threatening situation, however that risk may be avoided or prevented by medical personnel," the HDA says in its IHI risk assessment report.


Online rebates should not replace real GPs

Rebates for online specialist consultations should not be used as a substitute for having GPs ‘on the ground’ in rural areas, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia has warned.

In its submission to a government discussion paper on the subject of rebates for telehealth consultations, the RDAA says it welcomes the idea but says online initiatives must support, rather than replace, face-to-face consultations.

Online telehealth consultations with a specialist could help patients avoid having to travel long distances for follow up appointments to discuss test results or to monitor patients with chronic illnesses, says RDAA Vice President Dr Peter Rischbieth.


NSW ambos trialling electronic records

By Darren Pauli, on February 17th, 2011

The NSW Ambulance Service is deploying an electronic patient record system, which has irked paramedics already using it in other states.

The Victorian Ambulance Clinical Information System (VACIS), so called because it was designed and first used by that state, has also been introduced into Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

It involves a series of tough laptops deployed into ambulances for paramedics to send information on a patient's condition to hospitals.


Wireless smartphones essential to e-health: CSIRO

Wireless smartphones have as great a role to play in e-health development as videoconferencing across fibre networks

While e-health has to date largely focused on doctor-patient videoconferencing over fibre networks, wireless-enabled smartphones could soon grow to become the health service delivery platform of choice for many Australians, according to the CSIRO.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia ahead of his presentation at the Wireless Health conference in Sydney, CSIRO ICT Centre director, Ian Oppermann, said recent trials carried out by the agency of a care assessment platform had shown wireless smartphones could deliver healthcare services.

“We have been delivering… cardiac care via smartphones for patients who have heart operations and then have post-operative care targeted to them,” he said. "[The service] provides recommendations for exercise and provides feedback about how people engage with it – whether they are following the program or not.


NSW Heath appoints CIO for e-health, IT strategies

Department aiming for health IT leadership

The NSW Department of Health has appointed Ian Rodgers as director of its new e-health and ICT strategy branch.

Rodgers has CIO-level experience in IT strategy and governance across the public and private sectors. He will start in the new role on March 30.

The new position has been advertised since November last year.


Head of Communications

  • Key executive position
  • National profile

Do you want to improve the health of the nation?

Do you want to be part of the largest national e-health transformation project in Australia, the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)?

NEHTA is currently recruiting people with a desire to make a difference to health outcomes, that are passionate about the use of ehealth to meet these goals and who have the relevant experience to deliver solutions in a highly complex stakeholder and technical environment. In these roles you will be working with consumers and clinicians who will be defining how models of care can be improved using the PCEHR. You will be delivering the solutions that will be in place for your grandparents, parents and your children... and for you as you engage with the public and private health system.


NSW Ambulance Service back online after virus infection

February 14, 2011 - 12:13PM

Computers which coordinate NSW's ambulances are back online in three of the state's regions after a major virus forced staff to shut them down for more than 24 hours.

The virus crept into the Ambulance Service of NSW's dispatch system at 1pm (AEDT) on Saturday, prompting staff to coordinate paramedics by telephone and handwritten notes.

Despite the shutdown, senior managers say no lives were put in danger and all triple-zero calls were answered.


NSW ambulance computers coming back online

No lives in danger and all 000 calls were answered despite shutdown, says senior managers

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 14 February, 2011 10:49

Computers which co-ordinate NSW's ambulances are back online in three of the state's regions after a major virus forced staff to shut them down for more than 24 hours.

The virus crept into the Ambulance Service of NSW's dispatch system at 1pm (AEDT) on Saturday, prompting staff to co-ordinate paramedics by telephone and handwritten notes.

Despite the shutdown, senior managers say no lives were put in danger and all triple-zero calls were answered.


World focus on ambulance system failure

SECURITY experts worldwide are expected to home in on an investigation into how a computer virus attacked one of the world's most commonly used medical emergency software systems and brought the NSW ambulance computer aided dispatch system to a halt.

Ambulance Service director of control division, Michael Barnett-Connolly said that on Saturday the virus infiltrated the computer system responsible for automatically dispatching and tracking ambulances, known as VisiCAD.

"Our technician picked up the virus as part of scanning tests in the database boxes," Mr Barnett-Connolly said.


Global Health scores e-health deal

Report | 18:50, 15th February 2011

By Dylan Bushell-Embling (CFO World)

Australian e-health solution provider Global Health (ASX:GLH) has revealed it has been chosen to provide its secure message delivery, ReferralNet, to Monkey Software.

Monkey Software will use ReferralNet in the Optomate practice management software it develops for its more than 1,000 clients in the Australian optical industry.


Urgent action to fix registration glitches

Federal and state health ministers have agreed that action needed to address ongoing registration problems with the new national registration scheme.

In a meeting with Nicola Roxon in Hobart, minsters agreed to provide additional funding to overcome problems that the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency (AHPRA) has been experiencing and restore credibility to the new national body.

They say additional monitoring of AHPRA will be introduced and the Commonwealth will consider ex-gratia payments to cover missed Medicare rebates “so that patients are not disadvantaged by lapsed registration of their health care practitioner who is still practising. “


More resources pledged to fix registration


Michael East

HEALTH ministers have pledged more resources to fix the registration fiasco, conceding the performance of the national registration system’s operator has not been good enough.

Since its introduction last July, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency has been plagued by administrative meltdowns.

Doctors have complained that they never received registration renewal forms or they were sent to the wrong address. Applications submitted have also been unexplainably lost and there have been delays in processing them if they were received by AHPRA.


Discharge summaries in a “black hole”

AN electronic discharge summary that includes tests pending when patients leave hospital is a good idea, but first the problem of test results disappearing into hospital “black holes” has to be solved, says Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, a national e-health leader and practising GP.

Dr Haikerwal, national clinical lead for the National E-Health Transition Authority, said that, in Australia, hospitals were the stumbling block to the implementation of an electronic test management and discharge summary system.

He was commenting on a systematic review by Australian researchers which showed failure to follow up test results for hospital patients is a substantial problem.

The paper, published online in BMJ Quality and Safety, found the lack of follow-up of laboratory or radiology test results for inpatients ranged from 20.04% to 61.6%, and for patients treated in emergency departments, ranged from 1.0% to 75%, when calculated as a proportion of tests.(1)


More is less for Medicare Locals

18th Feb 2011

Caroline Brettingham-Moore

THE Gillard Government’s decision to increase the number of Medicare Locals (MLs) has received a mixed reaction from the divisions of general practice, with some claiming it will stymie and delay health reform.

As part of the revamped COAG deal, Prime Minister Julia Gillard raised the number of MLs beyond the planned 57 to ensure the organisations were more responsive to community needs.

But AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic said the decision would result in weaker, less effective organisations.


iSOFT expands in Nordic region

Tuesday 15th February 2011

iSOFT Group Limited has increased its foothold in Scandinavia and Finland, after an agreement with partners Picis to sell, implement and support its perioperative, anaesthesia and critical care solutions across the region.

Under its expansion plans, iSOFT has opened an office in Kista, Sweden and signed an agreement with Stockholm-based Exonor Technologies for local know-how. An established healthcare IT and clinical specialist, Exonor will provide staff, local knowledge and expertise with the full support of iSOFT’s UK service organisation. iSOFT plans to further expand its presence and product offerings in the region.


Correction to release on Dunedin e-prescribing pilot – but Guild stands firm on prescription safety concerns

Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand Monday 14 February 2011, 12:18pm

Media release from Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand

The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild) has been asked by the Otago Daily Times to clarify our media statement from 9 February entitled Dunedin Hospital pilot uncovers serious prescribing errors.

Our media release stated that from a sample of 100 paper charts, the electronic prescribing pilot involving two wards at Dunedin Hospital uncovered 2,623 instances of harm or near misses from medication errors last year - most of which were unreported or unrecognised.


CSC likely to keep its NHS IT contracts

Officials are threatening to end CSC’s NPfIT contracts - but the end is not in sight.

The Department of Health is doing the right things legally: on 4 February 2011 it notified CSC of a breach of contract, relating to a delay in achieving a milestone at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The breach is disputed by CSC, so it looks as if the two sides are locked in a legal battle. Indeed it’s customary for the DH, when giving statements to the media, to say it will not discuss commercial negotiations. But this time a spokesman for the DH told E-Health Insider:

“We can confirm that the Department of Health is considering the options available under the current contract, including termination.”


iSOFT wins two NHS orders for Savience patient kiosks

Monday 14th February 2011

Two more NHS trusts have ordered patient check-in kiosks from iSOFT in deals totalling £275,000, under moves to cut patient queues and free receptionists and nurses.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is taking eight Savience self-service kiosks for outpatient departments at Watford General, Hemel Hempstead, and St Albans City hospitals. The trust deals with 374,000 outpatient appointments a year across the three hospitals. The deal is for a fully managed service over five years and includes six plasma screens and audio equipment for patient calling.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has ordered two kiosks initially for the West Cumberland Hospital at Whitehaven, under a proof-of-concept project. Current plans are for further kiosks here and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. The trust handles 270,000 outpatient attendances a year across the two sites.


Myki looks safe, at least in Melbourne

Royce Millar

February 15, 2011

THE troubled myki transport smartcard could survive in a scaled-back form, although the Baillieu government may defer a final decision until next week.

With hundreds of millions already invested and the system largely in place and improving, transport industry and government insiders yesterday agreed the Coalition was likely to persevere with the smartcard.

Sources said yesterday the government was looking closely at modifying myki, a real possibility being to limit its roll out to Melbourne. A separate system would apply for regional transport. Mr Baillieu had hoped to make a definitive announcement this week.


Time for a decision on myki

  • Stephen McMahon, state politics editor
  • From: Herald Sun
  • February 14, 2011 12:01AM

Experts say taxpayers could face a $2b bill if the government scraps Myki and replaces it with another ticketing system. Picture: Rob Leeson Source: Herald Sun

PRESSURE is building on the Baillieu Government to keep the troubled myki ticketing systems.

Transport experts, commuters and unions have condemned plans to axe myki.

It's estimated taxpayers would face a $2 billion bill if myki was dumped and replaced with a new system.


No 'fatal flaw' to justify scrapping myki, says expert

David Rood, Jason Dowling

February 16, 2011 - 10:38AM

THERE is no "fatal flaw" with myki that would justify scrapping the $1.35 billion ticketing system, according to a senior transport expert.

While myki has had been plagued by a long list of glitches, including incorrect balances and a delayed introduction to trams, there is not a system-wide problem threatening the viability of the system, according to the source who did not wish to be identified.

The number of complaints about myki and calls to the myki call centre have been trending downwards, they said.


Rhetoric changes as NBN rural promises qualified

  • Mitchell Bingemann and Lauren Wilson
  • From: The Australian
  • February 18, 2011 12:00AM

The federal government has backed away from promises that its National Broadband Network would deliver country dwellers download speeds of at least 12 megabits per second.

When the $36 billion project was announced in April 2009, the then Rudd government guaranteed that the population living outside the footprint of the 100mbps fibre-optic network would be served by "next-generation wireless and satellite technologies that will be able to deliver 12 megabits per second or more".

However, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy and the NBN Co building the network have changed the rhetoric and are now pledging that it will only provide wireless-served residents "peak speeds of at least 12 megabits per second" -- meaning actual speeds could be significantly lower.


Backlash looms over NBN rollout

LABOR faces the prospect of a widespread backlash when it moves from the trial phase to a nationwide rollout of its National Broadband Network.

A survey by The Australian of 12 councils near NBN test sites found the majority reporting a mixture of apathy, scepticism and hostility towards the NBN among residents.

Mayors said their constituents either did not want the scheme or thought the money could be better spent elsewhere. All but one thought the installation of overhead cables, 31,000km across the country, would spark an outcry.

Some of the strongest opposition was reported by councils in northeast NSW, in and around the electorates of independent federal MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who have argued vigorously in favour of the NBN.

The findings follow revelations by The Australian that some residents in the Kiama Downs test site on the NSW shire of Wingecarribee are unhappy with the way the network is being installed.


Telstra super-fast 4G wireless sparks debate over NBN

Ben Grubb

February 15, 2011 - 11:00AM

Telstra will significantly upgrade its mobile network to take advantage of fast 4G technology that will allow users to obtain speeds similar to home ADSL broadband connections while on the go.

The move has sparked fresh debate over the viability of the national broadband network (NBN).

The telco will use new 4G technology to boost mobile internet speeds in capital cities and some regional areas by the end of the year.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the "leading-edge" technology will help the company meet growing demands for mobile data, "which is doubling every year as customers move to adopt data-hungry smartphones, mobile modems and tablets".


Service providers wring more speed out of copper networks

AUSTRALIAN internet providers continue to squeeze extra speed from their networks without help from the federal government's $36 billion National Broadband Network, according to research.

Average broadband speeds in Australia were 10 per cent higher in the second half of last year compared with the previous six months, according to the study by British analyst Broadband Expert.

The study, revealed exclusively to The Australian shows the average speed of a broadband connection during the second half of last year was about 5.47Mbps, compared with 4.95Mbps for the previous half.


Open office dilemma: vs. LibreOffice

Dueling open source alternatives to Microsoft Office match word processors, spreadsheets, and much more; which one should you choose? is one of the leading competitors to the Microsoft Office suite of business productivity applications. Originally developed as StarOffice in the late 1990s, the suite had been managed in recent years by Sun Microsystems as an open source project. But when Oracle acquired Sun in April 2009, the future of Sun's software offerings -- particularly free ones like -- was called into question. Before long, key developers, unhappy with the status quo under Oracle, began defecting from the project.

The result was LibreOffice, a new fork of the code base that's maintained by a nonprofit organization called the Document Foundation. LibreOffice looks like and it runs like It even reads and writes's OpenDocument file formats. The difference is that LibreOffice is being developed in a fully community-driven way, without oversight from Oracle. (The "libre" in the suite's name is derived from a Latinate root meaning "liberty.")

10 great free desktop productivity tools that aren't

The question is, which suite should you use? Both and LibreOffice recently announced version 3.3.0 of their respective wares. Both are available as free downloads (although Oracle also sells a version of that includes commercial support). Which one will be the better bet for now or in the foreseeable future? I installed both to find out.




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