Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 11 July, 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 the Carbon Tax details are out and most are either ignoring it or working out what it means for them. Some of the more perspicacious are also trying to work out what difference it will actually make to the atmosphere and whether we will be making a contribution to reducing anthropogenic global warming (which I have to say up front is something that I accept to be real and needing a really significant global policy response).

Part of the overall outcome will, inevitably, be determined by the quality of the plan and the quality of the implementation that follows. This brings me to e-Health.

This appeared a few days ago

Nicola Roxon gives in to states on health

  • Sue Dunlevy and Matthew Franklin
  • From: The Australian
  • July 07, 2011 12:00AM

LABOR has caved in to premiers on national health reforms, junking a plan to guarantee public hospital elective surgery patients private hospital treatment if they are forced to wait beyond recommended periods.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has also watered down the previous blanket guarantee of a maximum wait of four hours for treatment in hospital emergency departments, agreeing that the target will now be rolled out on a hospital-by-hospital basis and will apply to only 90 per cent of patients.

Ms Roxon announced the backdowns yesterday just hours after Julia Gillard postponed a Council of Australian Governments meeting that had been scheduled for next week to thrash out the disputes with the states over the health reform package.

More here:

This is only the last of a series of changes and modifications we have seen with the implementation of the Government’s plans for health reforms.

It also seems we are now starting to see a variety of changes being developed for a new version of the PCEHR plans.

The reason for this brief comment is just to make the point that the present Government seems to have a rather poor record of implementing what is announced (e.g. BER, Pink Bats, Health Reform, Off Shore Refugee Processing and so on) and with that record we can pretty safely assume both the Carbon Tax and the PCEHR will probably not happen in the way they are announced.

Stand by for all sorts of heat and noise with the Carbon Tax and hopefully some sanity to emerge with overall direction of the PCEHR. The latter would be really good!


E-prescription vendors need to up their game

July 5, 2011 Written by Pamela Weaver

While e-prescription systems can cut the costs and inaccuracies often associated with their paper counterparts, uptake of the technology has been low. A new report from analysts Ovum indicates that, despite the technology’s capacity to fundamentally change the healthcare systems of Europe and America, vendors of the software need to “up their game and improve the design of their systems” if widespread adoption by hospitals and surgeries is to be reached.

The report, entitled ePrescribing brings fundamental change to the Healthcare and Life Sciences Ecosystem, states that a major cause of resistance to e-prescription adoption is that healthcare practices, particularly those in the private sector, believe that current IT solutions “are not sophisticated enough to integrate well with other IT systems.” Report author Andrew Brosnan says that the software’s inability to “mesh seamlessly” with other IT infrastructure is “of great concern to prescribers.” Brosnan also points to high up-front costs and patient confidentiality fears as two further key reasons behind slow up-take, particularly in the US.


Vendors of e-prescription software should improve their game to tackle low adoption

Vendors of electronic prescribing software need to up their game and improve the design of their systems, if widespread adoption by hospitals and surgeries is to be reached, according to Ovum.

In a new report*, the independent technology analyst finds that while e-prescribing systems, which cut costs and inaccuracies associated with paper prescriptions, are bringing fundamental changes to the healthcare sector in the US and Europe, uptake has been low.

The report states that a major cause of resistance to adoption is that healthcare practices, especially those in the private sector, believe that the IT solutions currently available are not sophisticated enough to integrate well with other IT systems.


Healthcare E-Prescriptions Stunted By Software Vendors

By Matthew Lentini | Tuesday | 2011-07-05

Electronic prescription could grow right across the Australian healthcare market but the software vendors need to improve their offerings if e-prescription is going to take off, according to new Ovum research.

E-prescription systems integrate healthcare patients' prescriptions and the dispensing of medicine in an IT solution that cuts the costs and inaccuracies of the paper system, also giving the perks of patient medicinal history and reducing potential fraud through the streamlined, online system.

The report found that while these types of e-prescription systems slowly grow in the European healthcare sector, the Australian healthcare industry sees current software offerings as being not sophisticated enough to integrate with existing IT systems.


$29.9m dedicated for e-health training

By Suzanne Tindal, on July 7th, 2011

McKinsey and Company has lucked out again, winning another deal for the implementation of the Federal Government's plan for personally controlled electronic health records.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon today said that the government has appointed a consortium headed by McKinsey and Co to lead the national change and adoption process for the records scheme, which the government has committed to have up and running by July 2012.

Other members of the consortium include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hill and Knowlton, Workstar, Event Planet, Ocean Informatics, Alfred Health, Salmat and the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN).


GPs exhibit ‘computer anxiety’

Some GPs are still battling with “computer anxiety” with nearly one in five not using computers for any clinical tasks, Australian research suggests.

A survey of nearly 500 GPs across the country found 17% were not using computers for any clinical functions, including writing prescriptions, preparing referral letters for patients, storing pathology results or for diagnosing.

Using data from a national telephone survey, researchers at Queensland University found the majority of GPs did have a computer in their practice, according to the study published in Health Information Management Journal (Vol 40 No 2 2011).


E-Health Case Study: Telstra


Australia’s incumbent fixed and mobile operator, Telstra, is targeting the health sector with services to be deployed in the next year or two. Its strategy has been formulated by a cross-company team that aims to deepen the operator’s involvement in the health sector and incorporate all of its core telecommunications products, in particular expanding on the existing customer relationships owned by Telstra Enterprise & Government and Telstra Business.

As the dominant player, Telstra is an early mover in the slowly developing Australian e-health market. But its competitors are increasingly aligning with the same strategic partners to offer services and the operator faces competition not only from other telecommunications companies but also from IT suppliers.


Long-term telehealth funding may fall short

7th Jul 2011

Andrew Bracey

START-UP grants and incentive payments for GPs engaging in new telehealth consults may not be enough to sustain the services in the long term, the AMA is warning.

From the beginning of this month, a suite of new MBS rebates will see GPs outside inner-metropolitan areas paid to sit with patients while they consult a specialist via webcam.

The item numbers attract a 35% loading on top of rebates for standard time-based consultations, a $40 incentive payment plus another $20 incentive if the consultation is bulk-billed. One-off $6000 payments to cover equipment costs are on offer.


High-tech boost for diabetic children

  • From: AAP
  • July 08, 2011 4:59PM

TREATING diabetes in children is about to go high-tech.

Doctors are hoping to revolutionise how children with type 1 diabetes receive their regular insulin doses using a special sensor inserted under the skin and transmitting data to a mobile phone.

Early trials of the device are being carried out at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth amid hopes it will simplify how diabetics receive their crucial insulin doses.

People with type 1 diabetes currently have to measure their blood sugar levels up to 10 times a day by carrying out finger prick tests.


Submissions received on the PCEHR Draft Concept of Operations – Relating to the introduction of a PCEHR system.

This page lists received submissions that comply with the submission terms of use.

Submissions closed on 7 June 2011. Review this consultation's context

Submissions will be progressively published to the yourHealth website over the next few weeks.


iSoft board faces a few hard questions

Scott Rochfort

July 5, 2011


Shareholders in iSoft might have a few extra questions at a meeting next week that may not entirely relate to the $180 million takeover offer from Computer Sciences Corporation.

While shareholders are expected to accept the 17¢ a share bid, questions linger over the share price movements at iSoft in the week before the takeover was announced to the market in early April.

In the two days before iSoft shares were placed into a halt (prior to the CSC announcement), they rose from 3.6¢ to 5.2¢ on heavy volume - a rise of more than 40 per cent and just days after shares in the company hit a record low.


CSC confident its 'full and fair' offer for iSoft will be successful

COMPUTER Sciences Corporation says its $188 million offer for beleaguered iSoft Group is "full and fair" and has pledged support to the company's staff in a last-ditch plea to win the support of beleaguered shareholders.

In the US IT giant's first Australian interview since lobbing its offer in early April, corporate vice-president Randy Phillips also outlined plans to turn around the ailing IT health company.

But first, CSC must win approval from at least 70 per cent of iSoft's shareholders, outside of majority holder Oceania Capital Partners, for the scheme of arrangement in Sydney on July 15.

OCP, formerly Allco Equity Partners, has pledged its 24 per cent to the 17c a share offer -- a 227 per cent premium to iSoft's price before the bid.


Electrotherapy to replace depression drugs?

By Larry Dignan, ZDNet US on July 7th, 2011

Electrical signals appear to increase blood flow to the brain and alleviate depression symptoms, according to a recent clinical trial.

The trial, detailed by NeuroSigma, which specialises in "neuromodulation", found that external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation boosts blood flow in areas of the brain focused on mood regulation.

NeuroSigma has licensed the technology from UCLA, and is looking to commercialise it. The Phase 1 clinical trial found that patients had reductions in depression severity over eight weeks. However, that first trial included four patients, who saw a 44 per cent reduction in their depression severity score. A Phase II double-blind trial is expected to be completed in late 2011.


Nine out of 10 concerned about identity theft

  • From: AAP
  • July 04, 2011 12:00AM

NEARLY one in six Australians have been a victim, or known somebody who has been a victim, of identity theft or misuse in the past six months.

An independent online survey of 1200 people also revealed nine out of 10 people were concerned or very concerned about identity theft and misuse.

"It's clear from these results that there is real concern in the Australian community about identity theft and misuse," federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said yesterday, adding that as people undertook more transactions online, the risk of identity theft increased.


Aussie appetite for bandwidth grows

July 7, 2011 - 10:08AM

We're demanding fatter pipes and sucking down more data than ever.

More than 8.1 million Australian households were connected to the internet in December 2010, up 11 per cent on the year before according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Those households pulled down an average 6.26 GB per month, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s a 30 per cent jump on the year before.

As our appetite for downloads grows, it’s little surprise that we’re upgrading to faster internet services. Last year 46 per cent of household internet connections offered an advertised maximum download speed of 8 Mbps or more, compared to only 30 per cent the year before. Of course those figures are a little rubbery, as it counts all homes on ADSL1+ or ADSL2+ even though many of them would actually get far less than 8 Mbps. Akamai’s 2010 Q4 report figures perhaps paint a more realistic picture. Akamai found the average Australian connection speed was 3 Mbps, up 35 per cent on the year before. The report found half of Australian households connected to the internet at speeds above 2 Mbps.


New mobiles study doubts cancer risks

Kristen Hallam

July 3, 2011

MOBILE phones may not increase the risk of brain cancer, a study has found, just a month after the World Health Organisation said using the devices may cause tumours.

Studies from several countries have failed to show an increase in brain tumours, up to 20 years after mobile phones were introduced and 10 years after the technology became widespread, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection's committee on epidemiology wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The findings of the committee, which included scientists from Australia, challenge those of an International Agency for Research on Cancer review.


Confusion on child pornography site blocking scheme

AUSTRALIAN internet service providers have expressed fears that the federal government's voluntary online child pornography blocking scheme could become a mandatory system by stealth.

The voluntary filtering scheme will for the first time authorise the Australian Federal Police to use section 313 notices under the Telecommunications Act to direct ISPs to block an Interpol-vetted list of child abuse sites on the internet.

Traditionally, carriers have viewed following instructions contained in 313 notices issued by law enforcement agencies as an obligation and company officers can face contempt of court orders for refusing to follow them.


Telstra, Optus net filters 'trivial' to bypass

Ben Grubb

July 5, 2011

An internet filter designed to block access to child pornography, which is being imposed on Optus and Telstra customers, is "trivial" to bypass, say civil libertarians.

But the Internet Industry Association (IIA), which helped design the filtering scheme for ISPs such as Telstra and Optus, said that just because it could be bypassed did not mean it should not be implemented.

The list of URLs that Telstra began to block at the start of this month and which Optus plans to begin blocking at the end of July is maintained by the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol). It aims only to prevent access to sites hosting child pornography.





Anonymous said...

For some inexplicable reason the Department seems to have taken the PCEHR ConOps submissions down form its web site. So much for all the time and effort everyone put into developing a submission. Is there a special link hidden on the yourhealth web site that I cannot see?

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

The ninth link down on the blog is what you need:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that.

Even so, why isn't it available via the web site?

I can't find the link anywhere.

Dr David More MB, PhD, FACHI said...

I have no idea!

Why not e-mail them?

They are sick of me and still have not published my submission. Just worried that sanity might prevail I guess.


Achilles said...

Not only is it impossible to find a link to the submissions page, if one navigates there directly one finds that only about 20 of the 47 submissions are accessible. For the rest the links are "accidentally" broken. What a pity! (Perhaps I am being unfair - it may be a case of simple incompetence.)

Anonymous said...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 3:46:00 PM said "it may be a case of simple incompetence".

Indeed. But so what?

These are the people who called urgently for submissions and comments on the ConOps document.

These are the people who are hell bent on spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the PCEHR and yet apparently can't even get a simple web page working to provide public access to very important public comment documents.

These are the people who want us to believe they know what they are doing in bringing us a PCEHR!

Why, must we be subjected to such incompetence?

Anonymous said...

When I try and find them I find this:


DRAFT Concept of Operations: introduction of a PCEHR System (prepared by NEHTA)

Appendix A: Consultation

This page has been left blank intentionally.


Says it all I think.