Monday, May 09, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 09 May, 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 a pretty quiet week, with the work released by the National Prescribing Service probably being the highlight.

Also important is the reporting of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner starting to explore the security issues surrounding use of the cloud.

Additionally there seems to be increasing notice being taken of the security of personal information. This debate clearly has implications for public attitudes to the PCEHR and e-Health in general.

Clearly the HealthSMART program is also still rather in limbo given the Victorian Budget last week.

It will be interesting to see if the Budget - released tomorrow night - has any extension of funding for the PCEHR. If it is not in this Budget next May will loom as a rather close ‘drop dead’ date!


Standards needed to address practice software flaws

National standards are needed for prescribing software in general practice because current systems have “noteworthy flaws”, according to the National Prescribing Service.

The NPS is calling for national guidelines and standards to ensure better support for doctors using the electronic systems, following its own review of the current software.

A review of seven commonly-used prescribing systems found “little or no support” for doctors on harmful dosages or safety issues relating to specific drugs and no indications of recent warning from the TGA.


Evaluation of features to support safety and quality in general practice clinical software.

Just wanted to let you know that the second and final part of the NPS Evaluation of Prescribing Systems study has now been published.

Evaluation of features to support safety and quality in general practice clinical software.

Sweidan M, Williamson M, Reeve JF, Harvey K, O’Neill JA, Schattner P, Snowdon T.

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2011, 11:27 doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-27

If you are interested, the study report can be downloaded on the NPS website, here:


Victoria Privacy Commissioner issues cloud computing guidelines

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 03, 2011 4:49PM

VICTORIA'S Privacy Commissioner Helen Versey has warned that the cost of addressing privacy and security issues may outweigh expected capital and operational savings for agencies wanting to shift to cloud computing.

Ms Versey has told state government organisations they should only use cloud service providers that agree to comply with Victoria's information privacy laws, and preferably have locally-based data centres.

"Where the provider is located offshore, or even outside of Victoria, taking reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure may be difficult or even impossible," she said in a statement.

"By using a cloud service, the government agency is relinquishing some -- if not all -- control over their data.


Victorian agencies urged to secure private data

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 06, 2011 10:41AM

FRESH from warning agencies of the costs of using cloud computing, the Victorian Privacy Commissioner has reminded state organisations they cannot relinquish responsibility for securing personal information.

Helen Versey says agencies are increasingly using external people and organisations to carry out functions on behalf of the state government.

"This means that a lot of personal information about individuals, which would normally be collected by government, is now collected and handled by external providers," she said.

"People expect the same information privacy protection when they are dealing with a service provider which is handling their personal information on behalf of a government agency as they would if they were dealing with the agency itself."


Prime Minister to be questioned next week on CSC's NHS IT deal

David Cameron to be asked about his talks with Andrew Lansley and Francis Maude on CSC's £3bn NPfIT contracts

David Cameron will be asked at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons next week about his discussions on the performance of CSC as supplier of the "Lorenzo" software under the NHS IT scheme.

CSC has NHS IT contracts worth about £3.2bn, as a local service provider under the NPfIT.


Global Health forms strategic alliance with Gemini Consulting

Global Health Limited (ASX:GLH) has today announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Gemini Consulting Pty Ltd (Gemini) - a change management consultancy specialising in sales strategy, organisational change and market development Gemini has agreed to pay GLH a licence commitment fee of $500,000 in the current financial year to become GLH's exclusive channel partner for the Company's consumer health-related products in Australia.

Under this agreement, Gemini will assume responsibility for the sales, delivery and support of all GLH's products, as well as identifying and developing new market segments for both current and proposed new products in Australia.


EFA, APF call for greater access to personal information

Privacy group cites Facebook as top privacy culprit

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) and the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) have highlighted the need to strengthen the Privacy Act 1988 and make information held by a company available to end users.

EFA spokesperson, Stephen Collins, told Computerworld Australia that the current Privacy Act was "problematic" because in some cases, it was difficult for people to get hold of information about themselves.

“In light of some recent breaches of privacy that we have seen take place, the EFA would love to see some teeth with respect to penalties for those who breach privacy," he said.


Vaile was also concerned by the planned introduction of an individual health identifier number as part of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) announced in April.

The $466.7 million project aims to increase online access to records with proposals, such as consumer information via Web portal (to be developed by Medibank Private), advanced care directives and connection with Medicare data.

"A lot of critics have said it is getting introduced without a proper public consultation about the privacy and information security regime around it," Collins said.


Identity theft, e-fraud top Australian security concerns: Unisys

Data loss also more of an issue than terrorist attacks

Financial fraud, identity theft and environmental disasters lean more heavily on Australians’ minds than national security threats, according to a Unisys report.

The biannual Unisys Security Index report, conducted in February 2011 by Newspoll, surveyed 1200 people what security risks they were concerned about compared to 10 years ago in the wake of the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks.

76 per cent of those surveyed said they were worried about credit card data being stolen, while 66 per cent cited environmental disasters as a threat. Companies losing personal details came in at 59 per cent while 56 per cent mentioned cyber attacks on national computer networks.


SNOMED CT Implementation Showcase a feature of October 2011 IHTSDO meetings

For the first time the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO) conference will feature an Implementation Showcase.

The IHTSDO Working Sessions and Implementation Showcase will take place in Sydney, Australia on October 10 – 14. In line with this years theme 'Implementing SNOMED CT: Realizing the Benefits', the Showcase will allow attendees to interact with SNOMED CT implementers from around the world who will share their first hand knowledge about the challenges, benefits and lessons learned of implementation. Workshops and education sessions will focus on approaches to implementing SNOMED CT for beginners as well as for advanced users. Session attendees will also have an opportunity to visit vendors in the vendor exhibit area.


AHPRA shaky start but getting better

May 5, 2011 - 12:14PM


The federal government's new register of health professionals has had a shaky start but is now well on its way to overcoming teething problems.

The old scheme, involving 10 groups of health professionals registered through 85 separate state and territory bodies, wound up on June 30 last year with the new scheme starting on July 1.

Under the national scheme launched a year ago, health professionals register just once through the national body and practice anywhere in Australia.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) chairman Peter Allen said it was a shaky start to the new scheme, but problems are being bedded down.


AHPRA warning on e-health consults

GPs could face reprimands for doing unstructured ‘electronic’ consultations with patients, following plans by AHPRA to introduce stricter standards.

The Medical Board of Australia (see link) is warning GPs about the use of “technology-based consultations” as it announces plans to consult on specific guidelines in the months ahead.

With the Federal government saying earlier this year that telehealth consultations in rural and remote areas would be eligible for an MBS rebate from July 1, the use of online and video consultations are expected to increase.


Territory to lead the nation in e-health reform project

Residents of the Northern Territory will be one of the first groups of Australians to have access to e-health records thanks to a new national health reform e-health project announced by the Federal Government.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians will benefit from e-health records as they will reduce the chance of medical errors and save patients from having to repeat their health history every time they visit a new doctor.


NT makes first e-health contributions

First lot of funding allocated to territory's Health eTowns project, despite government announcement a year ago

The Northern Territory has allocated $6.6 million toward telehealth services at 17 remote towns in the territory, marking its first financial contribution since the initiative was announced a year ago.

The allocation, announced in the 2011/2012 budget released this week, will form part of a $16.4 million funding package over three years to establish video conferencing sites, telehealth capabilities and e-learning capabilities for students at 17 of 20 towns marked as growth sites by the territory government.

The funding will also help to further establish the territory’s shared e-health record project, which handles records for close to 40,000 indigenous consumers, as well as improvements to fibre optic bandwidth at the earmarked towns.


Coalition caught between saving and spending promises

David Hayward

May 2, 2011 - 5:14PM

Victorian Treasurer Kim Wells brings down his first state budget tomorrow amid mixed messages about what to expect from such an important occasion.

The government was elected on a centrist platform, and there was no suggestion of a budget crisis. A progressive Premier was endorsed by a range of people including those who would not normally be expected to cast their vote his way. For the past five months, he has remained true to form as a calm and progressive leader.

His ministers, on the other hand, have often seemed indecisive. In transport and health for example ministers have damned Labor's IT legacy at every opportunity, yet we still don't know if a tainted myki and Healthsmart are gone or are set to be given a reprieve because on balance it would be the sensible thing to do.


Throwing good money after bad is no way to run a government

Ted Baillieu

May 2, 2011 - 4:32PM

It is clear that a new level of financial discipline from the Coalition government will be necessary for Victoria's future sustainability so the mistakes and waste of the past are not repeated.

The ruinous legacy of the former government is plain to see, most recently exposed in the Interim Report of the Independent Review of State Finances released this week.

This follows the Victorian Ombudsman's clear advice to government last week that "a new and more disciplined approach is required if governments are to avoid being faced with continuing blowouts and failure to deliver owing to mismanagement".


AIIA commends Victorian budget

Straight ICT figures don't reveal the whole story, says Birks

The Australia Information Industry Association (AIIA) has commended the Victorian Government’s proposed budget despite the document’s lack of focus on information technology spending.

AIIA chief executive, Ian Birks, told Computerworld Australia that while the outlined budget appeared to contain less spending on ICT than previous budgets, the government has maintained focus on improving the industry.

“AIIA has met a number of times with Minister [for Technology] Rich Phillips... and we’ve talked to him about the ICT industry agenda,” Birks said. “I think he and the government are very focused on productivity within the Victorian Government and there’s a very strong linkage between productivity improvement and ultimately increased or improved investment in ICT.”


HealthSMART, myki cop Vic budget bashing

By Luke Hopewell, on May 4th, 2011

Victorian State Treasurer Kim Wells last night released the state's budget, and blamed costly projects such as myki and HealthSMART for the budget's $7 billion debt figures.

"Major projects inherited by this government — including myki … and HealthSMART — face significant cost overruns which total around $2 billion and have further contributed to the run-up of debt," the treasurer said.

As a result of the myki and HealthSMART blowouts, among other things, Victoria is set to carry a debt of $7.5 billion — higher than previously forecast. HealthSMART will receive $6.7 million worth of funding in this year's budget, with future funding riding on a report yet to be handed down by the state's auditor-general.

The treasurer also put the boot into Victoria's troubled smart meter program in his speech.


PlayStation hack: 1.5m Aussie accounts exposed

Asher Moses

May 2, 2011 - 10:44AM

Sony has revealed more than 1.5 million Australian user accounts including potentially 280,000 credit card numbers are in the hands of hackers as it struggles to contain the reputational damage caused by one of the world's biggest privacy breaches.

Over the weekend, Sony executives bowed in apology for the security breach in the company's PlayStation Network, promising to improve security, compensate users and get the service back online within a month.

The number of Australian accounts affected, which make up a small fraction of the 77 million total accounts exposed worldwide, is far higher than initial estimates.


Privacy laws to be beefed up following Sony attack

Asher Moses

May 3, 2011

THE federal government will introduce laws forcing companies to disclose privacy breaches after Sony revealed that more than 1.5 million Australian user accounts were compromised in the recent attack on its PlayStation Network.

The stolen information include names, addresses, birthdays, email addresses and log-in passwords. Of the 1,560,791 Australian accounts that were affected, 280,000 had credit card details, but these were encrypted and there had been no reports of fraudulent activity, Sony said.

The Privacy Minister, Brendan O'Connor, said he was ''very concerned'' about the theft of personal information and expressed disappointment that Sony took ''several days'' to inform customers about the breach. This meant a mandatory ''data breach notification'' system now ''appears necessary'', he said.


Controlled drug sales to be tracked


02 May, 2011 07:28 AM

People buying controlled drugs at pharmacies will be electronically tracked across the country in a world-first scheme being rolled out by the Federal Government.

The Department of Health and Ageing has called for tenders for a new electronic program to monitor drug use and to prevent drug abuse.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia national director Kos Sclavos said the new ''electronic recording and reporting of controlled drugs'' initiative would target drug users exploiting gaps in the system by ''doctor shopping'' and ''pharmacy shopping''.

It would introduce an electronic system used by all Australian pharmacies to record and report the purchase of controlled narcotic prescription drugs.


Unthinking Machines

Artificial intelligence needs a reboot, say experts.

Some of the founders and leading lights in the fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive science gave a harsh assessment last night of the lack of progress in AI over the last few decades.

During a panel discussion—moderated by linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker—that kicked off MIT's Brains, Minds, and Machines symposium, panelists called for a return to the style of research that marked the early years of the field, one driven more by curiosity rather than narrow applications.

"You might wonder why aren't there any robots that you can send in to fix the Japanese reactors," said Marvin Minsky, who pioneered neural networks in the 1950s and went on to make significant early advances in AI and robotics. "The answer is that there was a lot of progress in the 1960s and 1970s. Then something went wrong. [Today] you'll find students excited over robots that play basketball or soccer or dance or make funny faces at you. [But] they're not making them smarter."


Natty Narwhal: The first Linux for newbies?

With its new Unity interface, Ubuntu 11.04 taps the mobile world for a way to help Windows users across the divide.

Whenever a new version of an operating system is released, it's common to see a wave of reviews following on its heels, assessing how the software compares with what came before it and weighing its new pros and cons.

That's certainly been the case with Canonical's Ubuntu 11.04, or "Natty Narwhal," which was officially released last week. This time, however, it seems fair to say the scrutiny has been more intense than usual.

For those who haven't been following it closely, Natty Narwhal is the first desktop Ubuntu Linux release to use the Unity desktop shell by default -- a major, ground-shaking departure from the software's traditional use of GNOME. It's also the place several other significant decisions for the free and open source operating system can be seen, such as the adoption of the Compiz window manager.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Standards needed to address practice software flaws

I think some standards here would be welcomed by the industry. I say this as someone who has implemented prescribing software. There is almost no information out there on what needs to go into prescribing software. For instance, try to find out what needs to be printed on a prescription. This is just not documented anywhere, and when you do get answers, they are often inconsistent.