Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 18 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

A pretty quiet week with the story linked to in the first two articles being a bit of a worry having had a security breach in an SA Health Government entity which was denied, then admitted and then not really fixed promptly. Health Departments really do need to take these issues seriously as there is nothing like a few bad headlines to potentially erode trust in things like e-Health.

Privacy was also in the news with the release by the Federal Privacy Commissioner of a quite substantial document on the privacy aspects of the PCEHR.

Also we have seen iSoft pretty much gone and Qld Health still having a few issues with its payroll.

On the hopeful side we have some ideas for bionic eyes and clever pill reminder systems. I think a focus on the positive will help relieve the gloom so many seem to be feeling.

See here:

The global glums are here to stay

Clancy Yeates

July 16, 2011

If we ignore the euro-zone crises, they won't go away; they may even land on our doorstep, at least according to some observers. Clancy Yeates reports.

IF YOU thought the mining boom would bring good cheer to households and businesses around the country, think again. Every day it's clearer that for all our good fortune, Australians have a case of the economic blues.

On paper, we've arguably never had it better. Household wealth is near record highs, debt levels have been slashed, and our unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent is the envy of the Western world. Yet the economy is suffering from a shortage of a crucial ingredient - confidence.


DNA test names exposed online

AUSTRALIANS seeking confidential DNA paternity tests to establish the parentage of their children have been outed online in a major privacy breach at Australia's largest drug and alcohol testing company.

Other sensitive data accidentally disclosed by the national company, Medvet, also compromise the privacy of hundreds of people who have confidentially ordered kits to test themselves or family and friends for illicit drugs and alcohol in their urine and saliva.

An investigation by The Weekend Australian has revealed that the complete home and work addresses of customers and others who ordered paternity test kits, drug and alcohol test kits and other products this year and last year are published and accessible on Google.


Promise of privacy carried little weight

THE details are excruciatingly private and leave little to the imagination.

The "self-collect paternity test", for example, will be sought by someone who might harbour doubts about the parentage of a child. The customer could be a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or a grown-up child with concern over his or her genetic make-up.

Those who seek such tests do so having been assured their confidentiality is taken seriously by Medvet, Australia's largest company for drug and alcohol testing. Paternity testing is a burgeoning part of the South Australian-government owned venture with close ties to SA Health.

Alternatively, you could be concerned that a drug addiction might compromise your job and buy a test kit for private analysis.


GP face PCEHR non-compliance fines

GPs will be subject to new regulations, disciplinary offences and fines in regard to the management of the Personally Controlled E-Health Record (PCEHR) system, under new government proposals.

In proposals (link) for the legal framework for the PCEHR released last week, the Department of Health and Ageing is seeking input on new legislation to handle issues such as e-health privacy, record retention and audit trails.

According to the consultation document, some issues such as age of consent and privacy provisions for accessing medical records may be guided by current laws and requirements.


Commissioner eyes tough e-health privacy laws

NEHTA chided for restricted community consultations.

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has proposed laws around e-health records in Australia that would tighten use and disclosure of data and penalise any privacy breaches.

Pilgrim also proposed laws that would keep e-health record storage in Australia to combat data security concerns.

The Privacy Commissioner made 32 recommendations in total on the operation of the Government's planned $467 million personally-controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, which was to be implemented by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).

While some recommendations were of a technical or housekeeping nature, others required legislation to clarify responsibility for the management of the PCEHR and the health information held in it.


Feds call for PCEHR legislative input

The federal government has called for submissions into the legislative framework associated with the introduction of the personally controlled electronic healthcare record (PCEHR) in July 2012.

In order to stimulate discussion, the Department of Health and Ageing together with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has released a Legislation Issues Paper which addresses five key aspects of the PCEHR system.

The first aspect, participation, identifies those individuals and organisations eligible to take part in the PCEHR system. It states all citizens will be eligible, along with healthcare organisations, the PCEHR system operator, data repository operators, and portal providers.


Coupons spark boom in unneeded treatments


David Brill

The new craze for bargain coupon websites is fuelling a boom in unnecessary medical procedures and encouraging beauty treatment companies to flout advertising regulations, doctors warn.

The Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australia this morning hit out at websites like Scoopon and Jump On It, claiming they raise legal and ethical problems by promoting discounted cosmetic procedures.

Society president Dr Gabrielle Caswell said “an alarming number” of companies offer botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment via the sites, despite this being a prescription-only medicine that cannot be advertised direct to consumers.


The National E-Health Transition Authority Strategic Plan Refresh

The NEHTA Board has endorsed the strategic plan refresh which articulates how the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) will continue to develop and progress the national infrastructure and adoption support required for eHealth in Australia, as mandated and funded by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

NEHTA's Strategic Plan describes the COAG funded milestones achieved to date, the work planned to progress the key eHealth foundations and initiatives for the remaining period of NEHTA’s current COAG funding, the targets and activities required to deliver components of the PCEHR, and NEHTA’s role in accelerating the adoption and further progression of eHealth in Australia into the future.


Building on the RIGHT foundations

2011-July-16 | 14:40 By: Filed in:

I have, on a number of occasions over the past decade, tried to explain the importance of building software, systems, national infrastructure, etc. on the right foundations. Other people who do this in the e-health arena often talk purely about the importance of standards and the analogy with the ‘rail gauge problem’ experienced in Australia since the states built their own rail infrastructure in isolation of the rest of the country. Yet others often talk about the need for open, non-proprietary software and systems that can evolve to meet peoples needs without ‘vendor lock-in’.

However, for me, the most important criterion is an engineering one – that of ensuring that a system’s infrastructure is based on solid foundations. First and foremost, any system infrastructure must perform its intended role, and do so safely, reliably and efficiently. This is often ignored or given a lower prominence than standards or openness. Particularly the former.


NSW Health calls time on GroupWise, preps Exchange move

All existing messages to be copied to and stored in the permanent archive

NSW Health has started preparing the consolidation of all its disparate e-mail systems into one Microsoft Exchange environment for some 200,000 end-users across the state government department with the big loser being Novell’s GroupWise.

To prepare for the migration, the health support services (HSS) infrastructure office within NSW Health is installing a centralised e-mail archiving system based on Quest Archive Manager specifically for the GroupWise environments.

The new archiving solution will address “pressing GroupWise storage capacity concerns” and allow the historical GroupWise e-mail to be centrally stored and accessed without a dependency on GroupWise itself.


ANZ tosses the dice with Oceania share sale

Ian McIlwraith

July 12, 2011

ANZ has put the former Allco Equity Partners, Oceania Capital, in play by selling enough shares to South African listed conglomerate Hosken Consolidated Investments enough shares for a takeover springboard.

ANZ ended up owning 24 per cent of Oceania in late 2008 as a result of an investment company belonging to Melbourne's Liberman family, LJCB Investments, defaulting on a loan.

At the time it was reported that ANZ needed to sell the stake for $112 million if it was to recover all the money owed by LJCB under a collapsed put and call option arrangement with Allco Finance.


CSC bid for iSoft gets shareholder tick

By Suzanne Tindal, on July 15th, 2011

iSoft shareholders have voted in favour of CSC's acquisition of the troubled e-Health company in two separate votes today.

The company had to split the vote on the acquisition by share scheme arrangement after a Federal Court ruling, which attempted to settle a spat that had arisen in court over the value that CSC was set to pay for iSoft's convertible notes.

Previously, a company controlled by former iSoft executive chairman and founder Gary Cohen had been reported as saying that he'd seen better offers for the firm than those put forward by CSC.



Sydney – Friday, 15 July 2011 – iSOFT Group Limited (ASX: ISF) is pleased to advise that iSOFT shareholders have today approved the scheme of arrangement by which CSC Computer Sciences Australia Holdings Pty Ltd will acquire all of the issued shares in iSOFT ("Share Scheme").


Stokes safe on $100m WesTrac payout pledge

Primary asset sale not in peak health

AS Primary Health Care's Ed Bateman sifts through bids for its Health Communication Network business, and awaits a few more proposals, the indication is the company may struggle to get to the $300 million price tag it is said to be hoping for.

While interest from private equity late last year was one of the reasons Mr Bateman decided to test the market for the asset, private equity is seen as an unlikely owner of the GP software business, which will continue to serve Primary as a client after any change of ownership. Global IT groups such as Computer Sciences Corporation, which is awaiting approval on a $188m offer for iSoft, and Cerner are said to be among logical buyers. One local buyer is said to have expressed an interest, with speculation centering on Computershare. It's understood a few bidders have asked for an extension of last week's deadline for offers.


Medical Board has ten tips for telehealth

GPs are being advised on how they should be treating patients during telehealth consultations under draft guidelines released by AHPRA.

Following the new Medicare rebates for video consultations, the Medical Board of Australia has come up with a list of guidelines for medical practitioners carrying out “technology-based consultations”, which are open to consultation (see link).

AHPRA says the consultations are not just restricted to video-conferencing, but include any alternative to face-to-face consultations.


Qld nurses still seeking payroll answers

Queensland Health must regain the trust of its nurses as the bungled payroll saga continues

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 15 July, 2011 08:43

Queensland Health must regain the trust of its nurses as the bungled payroll saga continues, the nurses union says.

Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) secretary Beth Mohle told reporters on Thursday that thousands of nurses were still being underpaid or overpaid each fortnight.

In Brisbane for the QNU annual conference, Ms Mohle also revealed Queensland Health had accused nine victims of its bungled payroll of fraud.


Queensland Health staff can dispute overpayments

Queensland Health's troubled payroll system will need an extra $10 million on top of the $209 million it's already cost to fix.

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 14 July, 2011 09:00

Queensland Health's troubled payroll system will need an extra $10 million on top of the $209 million it's already cost to fix.

Queensland Health's (QH) acting director general, Tony O'Connell, admitted the extra cost during questioning by a parliamentary estimates committee on Wednesday.

He told MPs $209 million had funded measures to improve the system like extra payroll staff since its disastrous launch in March 2010.

But more money was needed for more staff and staff support.


No rush on health overpayments, says Bligh

Queensland health workers are being given as much time as possible to make sure calculations of overpayments by Queensland Health are correct

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 12 July, 2011 08:46

Queensland health workers are being given as much time as possible to make sure calculations of overpayments by Queensland Health are correct, Premier Anna Bligh says.

Ms Bligh announced a moratorium on repayments on Sunday to give health workers some breathing space on making the repayments and to begin the process of restoring staff confidence in Queensland Health.

"I don't want people to feel rushed about this," she told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.


A glowing reminder to take your tablets

A medicine bottle top that lights up, makes noises, and then texts and calls when it’s time to take the tablets could mean the end of poor compliance, its makers say.

GlowCaps, which fit on standard medication bottles, come with a plug-in unit that connects to a database through the wireless network and knows the patient’s particular dosage requirements.

The bottle top and the plug-in unit light up at the time the patient needs to take their medication.


Bionic glasses give blind hope

Nicky Phillips

July 14, 2011

AN AUSTRALIAN scientist has developed the world's first pair of bionic glasses that could help thousands of legally blind people navigate the world.

The glasses, which utilise tiny cameras and software technology from video games, alert the wearer to objects around them using small flashing lights.

Neuroscientist Stephen Hicks said bionic glasses had an advantage over the bionic eye or retinal implants because they were cheap, non-invasive, and more affordable than training a guide dog. ''Essentially they are just an iPhone and a pair of glasses,'' said Dr Hicks, who presented his invention at The Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition in London last week.




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