Monday, April 04, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 04 April, 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:

There have been three major developments I have spotted this week.

First iSoft has now officially disappeared as a separate Australian company.

Second the Government’s choice of 9 additional pilot sites for the PCEHR have been announced.

Third NEHTA has released initial specifications for a Specialist Letter Package.

All in all, quite a big week.


DoHA announces second wave e-health sites

The latest nine sites include maternity at the Mater Hospital, sites in North and South Brisbane and sites across NT, SA and the ACT

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, this morning announced nine new e-health implementation sites with $55 million of funding

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has unveiled the second wave of e-health implementation sites to deploy and trial specific aspects of the Gillard Government’s $466.7 million personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) initiative.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said the announced e-health implementation sites, to join the initial three sites in Brisbane, the Hunter Valley and Melbourne East, was the next step in the Federal Government’s health reform project.

“In these nine projects we can see practical examples of how e-health can improve heath care for patients,” Roxon said in a statement.


Nine new e-health pilots, but doubts linger

A further nine new e-health pilot sites and projects have been announced (link) by health minister Nicola Roxon, who says they will bring the personally controlled e-health record a step closer to reality.

The new pilot sites include GP divisions and hospitals, with Brisbane becoming an ‘e-health super site’, as most of the citiy’s divisions and the Mater Hospital involved, the minister says.

“Our 12 e-health lead implementation sites are aiming to have more than half a million Australians enrolled before the national launch of e-health records next year,” Ms Roxon said.


Guild excited over e-Health announcement

Community pharmacy has received a “big endorsement,” with Fred IT being announced as one-of-nine new programs in the roll-out of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR).

Speaking to Pharmacy News immediately after the Government revealed the Fred IT MedView project would receive a share in the $55 million funding available for the second wave of programs Kos Sclavos, national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said, it was “a big day for pharmacy”.

The Guild owned company’s project will focus on the Geelong region as part of the Government PCEHR roll-out, with pharmacies and GP surgeries there trialling the system.


Roxon launches 9 new e-health projects

By Suzanne Tindal, on March 29th, 2011

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has announced the next wave of projects to pave the way for a national implementation of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR).

The Federal Government has allocated $55 million to nine new projects to carry the torch following e-health lead implementations in the Hunter Valley, Brisbane and Melbourne last year.

"In these nine projects we can see practical examples of how e-health can improve healthcare for patients," Roxon said in a statement.


Electronic health records planned

Kate Hagan

March 30, 2011

UP TO half a million patients, including the chronically ill, will be the first to receive electronic health records under Labor's radical plan to overhaul the way medical data is kept.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday announced $55 million for nine projects, to be run by various groups including pharmacists, general practitioners and hospitals.

They include a Geelong project for doctors to view all medicines prescribed and dispensed to a particular patient. Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Kos Sclavos said it would be the first time that clinicians could see a combined list of medicines, regardless of how many doctors and pharmacists the patient had attended.


E-health focus moves away from primary care: AGPN

The AGPN has accused the Federal government of moving away from primary care with its latest round of e-health pilot sites.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced a further nine new e-health pilot sites and projects yesterday, with Brisbane becoming an ‘e-health super site’.

But AGPN Chair Dr Emil Djakic has raised concerns that the latest round represents “a step backwards” away from the primary health care sector with a stronger drift towards the hospital sector.

And he has accused the government of delivering an eHealth agenda so focused on hospitals that it has “undermined the development of a patient-centric, coordinated, cross sector electronic health system.”


Winners of e-health grant to be revealed by minister

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon will announce today successful bidders for the $55 million e-health funding pot and unveil nine new sites for her $467m personally controlled record program.

Ms Roxon's spokesman has confirmed the second wave of sites will be revealed, and will build on the three initial lead implementation sites involving GP Partners in Brisbane, GP Access in the NSW Hunter Valley and Melbourne East.

"The target for the first 12 sites will be to enrol more than half a million Australians before the national launch of the PCEHR (personally controlled electronic health record) next year," he said.


Queensland Health defies data directive over deaths in emergency departments

QUEENSLAND Health has defied a ruling from the state's Information Commissioner to release critical data about the state's hospitals.

In an unprecedented move, Queensland Health has taken legal action to keep secret the information about deaths in public hospital emergency departments.

Earlier this month, Right to Information Commissioner Clare Smith ordered Queensland Health to hand over the information to The Courier-Mail following a long-running battle to better understand the state's overwhelmed emergency departments.


Specialist Letter Package

The Specialist Letter Package builds on NEHTA’s ongoing eReferrals work and closes a vital communication link between general practitioners and non-GP medical specialists. The Specialist Letter provides a standardised national approach to sharing these key clinical communications and allows for a narrative to be included as part of the letter.


e-health back in the spotlight for NSW

Telehealth technology centre at Nepean Hospital one of the first priorities for Coalition

Health services in NSW have been in limbo pending the outcome of the election, but the landslide victory by the Barry O’Farrell-led Coalition is likely to precipitate a frenzy of activity as the new government looks to implement its e-health policies.

Jillian Skinner will take on the role of Health Minister within the new government. During the election campaign, the NSW Coalition’s policies focussed on health issue prevention, openness, better management of chronic disease and increased community involvement in the running of the NSW public health system.

Now, the industry is beginning to call on the government to make good on its promises.


Onus on O'Farrell to end Labor's state secrecy

Matthew Moore

March 31, 2011

THE new Premier is facing an early test of his commitment to open government after the outgoing Labor administration attempted to keep secret public service briefs prepared for incoming ministers.

Barry O'Farrell must decide whether to release the ''blue books'' prepared by government officials to brief his administration on key issues after the former government told departments to prepare these documents for an ''incoming cabinet''. Telling departmental heads these briefs are prepared for cabinet has ensured agencies are refusing requests for access to them on the grounds they are cabinet documents and not accessible under the new state freedom of information law called GIPAA - Government Information (Public Access) Act.

The move by the former government puts NSW at odds with the federal government, which has released public service briefs called red books (for Labor governments) in response to freedom of information requests from journalists.


$2.7m 'aid' in generic pill push

  • Adam Cresswell, Health editor
  • From: The Australian
  • March 31, 2011 12:00AM

GENERIC drug-makers showered pharmacists with movie tickets, computer software or equipment and other benefits worth $2.7 million last year, triggering concerns that hidden financial deals are deciding what pills patients receive.

The first report on the benefits that generic companies paid, other than through price discounting, shows that five out of the industry's six companies provided such benefits.

In one of the disclosures, Hospira -- a leading supplier of generic injectable drugs -- revealed it paid $874,006 to a number of unnamed hospitals to help provide nurses qualified to care for patients with mental or movement disorders. The declaration insists the hospitals "have absolutely no obligation to prescribe" the drugs in question, clozapine and apomorphine.

Another company, Apotex, paid $410,154 to pharmacists last year for a range of benefits, including vouchers and movie tickets, and "software tools designed to increase generic substitution" -- meaning they would help pharmacists to replace branded medicine a doctor had prescribed for a patient with a cheaper but chemically identical generic product.


Patient privacy concerns over ‘disturbing’ new laws

29th Mar 2011

Byron Kaye

MEDICARE has been granted Commonwealth powers to force GPs to hand over patient records, prompting concerns that non-medical bureaucrats will be able to lawfully inspect confidential personal information.

Legislation passed by Federal Parliament last week, backed by both major parties, will increase Medicare compliance audits fivefold and will force doctors to produce requested documentation – including patient notes – when suspected of inappropriate claims.

Previously, doctors have not been legally obliged to provide documents, and one in five has refused when audited, the Federal Government claims. Under the new laws, however, doctors face hefty fines for refusing to cooperate with Medicare.


Extra $200m needed to save HealthSMART

Rafael Epstein

April 1, 2011

VICTORIA'S Health Department will have to spend $200 million more to rescue the $360 million already spent on its troubled health technology program, including HealthSMART.

The over-run, more than half of HealthSMART's original cost, was in departmental advice delivered to the Baillieu government, and seen by The Age. The advice says as much as $95 million will be needed to complete HealthSMART's original plan for a computer system linking 10 big hospitals and giving medical staff immediate access to patient records.

The advice says that not only is the $95 million injection needed urgently, but also that it is not enough because it ''does not make allowances for major capital projects under way'' such as the new Royal Children's Hospital and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.


Dream ends for iSoft with $300m buyout

WHEN Gary Cohen's IBA Health agreed to buy troubled British group iSoft in 2007, he had visions of creating one of the largest healthcare information technology providers in the world.

Cohen, who was ousted last year from the company now called iSoft, is infamous for dreaming big but delivering little.

What followed was years of underperformance that has left the share price at 5c, compared with the $1.21 it closed at on the day IBA announced its agreement with iSoft, and debt of about $260 million -- more than four and a half times its current market capitalisation.


Will CSC buy troubled iSOFT?

Multiple media outlets are speculating that IT services giant CSC might buy troubled Australian e-health company iSOFT, in a move that will finally give CSC full control over the company it has long partnered with in the UK Government’s makeover of its national health technology systems.

With its share price continuing to plunge, last week iSOFT went into a trading halt, stating it wanted to halt its shares being traded ahead of an update on its long-running strategic review process. On Monday, iSOFT extended the halt, stating that ‘proposals’ it had received as part of the process were not sufficiently advanced to permit their disclosure to investors.


More divisions split over Medicare Locals

29th Mar 2011

Byron Kaye

BIDDING for Medicare Locals (MLs) has led to another bitter rift between GP divisions, with accusations that some are spreading false information now tainting the contest to become the hub for Sydney’s south-west.

With the deadline for the initial round of ML submissions next week, an AGPN-appointed mediator has been called in to instigate talks between Bankstown-based South West Sydney Health Coalition (SWSHC) and rival joint bidders the Macarthur Division of General Practice and the Southern Highlands Division of General Practice.

The talks came after Bankstown GP Division CEO Andrey Zheluk, whose division is spearheading the SWSHC bid, accused his rivals of claiming to be the “official bid” for the area’s ML.

A model to unlock NBN profits

Rob Burgess

Published 7:41 AM, 31 Mar 2011

Medical practitioners don't get too excited by money, preferring to convert dollar figures into 'health outcomes'. Pah. No imagination.

But the rest of the business community should be watching a number of medical trials very closely in the coming year. The federal government has just doled out $55 million to fund 'second wave' e-health trials that promise to save vast pots of money. (Or as practitioners would say, 'make it available elsewhere for better health outcomes').

One of the largest trials, being run by Medibank Private, is creating personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) that allow patients to set up online health records that can be accessed from just about anywhere. Around 28,000 clients in its chronic disease management programs will benefit.


High prices force NBN to suspend cabling tender process and look elsewhere

THE company overseeing the national broadband network will seek new builders after suspending its cabling tender process because price demands were too high.

NBN Co's head of corporate services, Kevin Brown, said the suspension, after five months of negotiations with 14 construction businesses, was because of a disagreement about the assumptions they had built into their pricing regimes.

He said the company would not build the $36 billion network "at any price".

"We have thoroughly benchmarked our project against similar engineering and civil works projects in Australia and overseas and we will not proceed on the basis of prices we are currently being offered," Mr Brown said in a statement.


NBN Co begins plan B talks

Plan B NBN partner unlikely to receive full fibre budget

NBN Co has refused to confirm or deny talks with Leighton Holdings over construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) on the mainland, but the wholesaler expects any “plan B” partner will not receive the entirety of the fibre build-out budget.

The company this week scrapped tenders offered by 14 shortlisted companies for business-as-usual construction of the $36 billion network after four rounds of negotiations, instead choosing to begin talks with an “alternative different party” in order to gain acceptable prices for the network.

The fibre portion of the network is expected to cost $10 billion, with an additional $2 billion to be spent on installing fibre at greenfield sites as part of an obligation handed to NBN Co at the beginning of the year.


8153.0 - Internet Activity, Australia, Dec 2010

Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/04/2011 Released Today



  • At the end of December 2010, there were 10.4 million active internet subscribers in Australia (excluding internet connections through mobile handsets). This represents annual growth of 16.7% and an increase of 9.9% since the end of June 2010.
  • The phasing out of dial-up internet connections continued with 93% of internet connections being non dial-up. Australians also continued to access increasingly faster download speeds, with 81% of access connections offering a download speed of 1.5Mbps or greater.
  • Digital subscriber line (DSL) continued to be the major technology for connections, accounting for 43% of the total internet connections, followed closely by mobile wireless (40% of total internet connections). However, the DSL percentage share has decreased since June 2010 when DSL represented 44% of the total connections.
  • Mobile wireless (excluding mobile handset connections) was the fastest growing internet access technology in actual numbers, increasing from 2.8 million in December 2009 to 4.2 million in December 2010.




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