Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 25 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 busy week came out of nowhere this week. We had Senator Boyce talking about the PCEHR and NEHTA, we have had a few hopeful PCEHR providers out with news and releases and we had the very sad case of a very elderly GP who seems to have been struggling to make good use of his electronic prescribing system.

Also on the agenda we have a number of interesting reports on robots and the like as well as ongoing news and concerns with the Medicare Locals plan (which does have significant e-health implications).

Last we have news on the pricing of NBN connections. At first glance the numbers seem a little high but looking at my personal situation the 50Mbit/sec speed (as long as voice telephony is included) for about $100/month is not too bad - with my present costs being about the same for high speed cable and voice phone package.

Quite a big week!

Late breaking news!

The submissions on the PCEHR ConOps have reappeared!

See here:




GP ‘failed to see warning’


An elderly GP prescribed antibiotics for a woman who was fatally allergic to the drugs after he failed to see a warning on a computer, a coronial inquest has heard.

Tracy-Lee Davis, 34, was found unconscious by her partner an hour after she was prescribed antibiotics for an ear infection by Dr Arpad Got in Adelaide in 2009.

In an affidavit presented to the inquest, Dr Got said he prescribed Ms Davis an antibiotic in the cephalosporin drug group, the same type of drugs that had caused her to be hospitalised with an allergic reaction about five years earlier.



Robots welcomed to provide nursing home care

With the ongoing aged care workforce crisis, nursing homes are exploring the possibility of using robots to perform routine tasks such as dispensing pills, serving meals and helping residents seek assistance.

In a study (see link) of attitudes to “assistive technologies” among nursing home staff and residents, New Zealand primary care researchers found that robots would be welcomed if they could perform tasks that would free up staff to spend more time with residents.



UK snaps up patient tracker system ignored by local hospitals

IT cuts admissions to intensive care units by half, reduces patient deaths and the time spent in hospital. But no Australian hospital will adopt an electronic patient tracking system developed here. Instead, it is being sold overseas.

The software, which can be used on an iPhone or other electronic system, allows nurses to record a patient's vital signs electronically. It automatically pages a doctor if the patient's condition is deteriorating.

Patientrack is the brainwave of University of Tasmania intensive care specialist Michael Buist, who wanted to find a way to remove human error from patient care and ensure doctors were always aware when patients became worse.

But Dr Buist could not get an Australian hospital to trial the system, which costs $1.5 million to roll out and pays for itself within 18 months.



UberGlobal positions itself for e-health spoils

Local cloud services specialist UberGlobal Enterprise is positioning itself to be considered as the preferred delivery platform for online services being proposed as part of Australia’s proposed e-health revolution.

Last week the company signalled that it was working with a newly formed alliance forged by software giant Microsoft and Parallels, to demonstrate how it might be possible to deliver secure, private health information services via the cloud. It now claims it has successfully demonstrated how that can work, released a white paper documenting that, and will now start to build up a range of different services and competencies which might be attractive to healthcare professionals in the future.



Only two people sacked after Queensland Health payroll debacle

IT'S the punchline to one of the Labor Government's greatest failures - the only two people sacked over the Queensland Health payroll debacle have since worked with the department.

The Courier-Mail can reveal former senior bureaucrats Adrian Shea and Michael Kalimnios have worked as consultants on QH projects in the 12 months since they were made the scapegoats for the payroll problems that have affected thousands of workers.

No one else was sacked over the incident, which will leave one of the greatest stains on this Labor administration and cost taxpayers $219 million to fix.



Qld Health to block sacked bureaucrats

Queensland Health is seeking legal advice over whether it can stop two top former bureaucrats fired over its payroll saga from working as private contractors for the department.

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 20 July, 2011 09:03

Queensland Health is seeking legal advice over whether it can stop two top former bureaucrats fired over its payroll saga from working as private contractors for the department.

It has been revealed that since their downfall in June last year, Adrian Shea and Michael Kalimnios have worked as private consultants for Queensland Health.

They were made scapegoats for the payroll debacle and fired in June last year, after thousands of workers in Queensland's health system were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all for weeks after a new software system went live.

The bungle is costing taxpayers a $219 million repair bill.



Under co-payment data will exclude pricing information

Plans for Medicare Australia to collect under co-payment PBS prescription data from pharmacies will have little impact on pharmacists, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia says.

Speaking to Pharmacy News, Kos Sclavos, Guild national president, said changes to dispensing software may be required in some pharmacies to meet the requirements when they come into effect from 1 April 2012, depending on the system being used.

“There is going to be little impact except for the initial change,” he said.



Forgery arrest highlights need for e-prescribing

Doctors should be required to use electronic prescribing systems to help stamp out prescription fraud, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia believes, after an ACT man was charged with producing fake prescriptions.

Speaking to Pharmacy News, Kos Sclavos, Guild national president said doctors needed to be encouraged to use electronic prescribing software to prevent forged prescriptions being filled by pharmacists.

“It would be naive to think that’s not prolific in the market place,” Mr Sclavos said.



Fujitsu scores WA Health datacentre deal

By Luke Hopewell, ZDNet.com.au on July 22nd, 2011

IT services company Fujitsu has scored a new datacentre and managed services support contract with WA Health, replacing the department's incumbent provider InfoHealth Alliance.

The contract will see Fujitsu relocate and manage WA Health's infrastructure out of its new datacentre in Perth, looking after the agency's servers, storage, networks and security services.

Fujitsu's deal with WA Health is set to run for four years with an option to extend.



Investigation into South Australia's Medvet lab after serious privacy breach

THE South Australian Government has ordered an urgent investigation into its medical laboratory, Medvet, over a privacy bungle.

The security breach, which resulted in the online publishing of the personal details of people seeking paternity and drug tests, has also opened the door to legal action against the SA Government, or for individual compensation claims.

Customer invoices from Medvet, which is wholly owned by SA Health, were still accessible on the internet yesterday, revealing the addresses and product orders of hundreds of people.



Private data still online 24 hours after alert

CONFIDENTIAL information relating to the paternity, drug and alcohol tests of hundreds of Australian customers could still be viewed online more than 24 hours after the company responsible was alerted to a major privacy breach.

The company, Medvet, Australia's largest for drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, did not perform a deletion exercise of its customers' cached information on Google, despite having pledged on Friday that it was doing everything possible to overcome a serious privacy breach.

Customer information including names, complete home addresses and the type of test kits ordered could still be accessed on Google late on Saturday.



Paternity and drug test details leak online in privacy breach

Asher Moses

July 18, 2011 - 3:35PM

Update 2:45pm: Medvet says it has now removed all private order information from Google's cached search results. Medvet has clarified that it first became aware of the issue on Friday, not in April as some reports have claimed.

Australians who bought drug and paternity tests from one of the country's largest providers are dealing with a serious privacy scare after details of their orders were found to be available online.

Medvet, owned by the South Australian government, appears to have failed to lock down its online order system and prevent it from being crawled by Google. Hundreds of orders of tests from people all over Australia can be found by searching Google for a specific term, which Fairfax Media has chosen not to publish.

The privacy breach was revealed over the weekend and, while the orders have been pulled from Medvet's site, all were still accessible through Google's cache as at noon today. The invoices detail specifics on the type of paternity test ordered or the specific drug that the person is being screened for.



Medvet Labs investigating patient data leak

Up to 800 addresses accessible online due to software error

Underdale, South Australia-based paternity and drug-testing laboratory, Medvet Laboratories, has launched an investigation into an online software error which caused the details of 800 patient's delivery addresses and product details entered into its Web store to be visible online.

According to the company, no customer bank account details or results of tests were released as a result of the glitch, which occurred on Friday, July 15.



Microsoft throws $100K at Sydney Uni medical research

First local bioelectronics course now available

Software giant Microsoft has awarded a $100,000 grant to a University of Sydney academic for research into the development of electrical devices for diagnosis and monitoring of strokes and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Alistair McEwan from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering was awarded the Microsoft fellowship for his ongoing work in “bioelectronics”, which the university describes as an emerging field combining electrical engineering and biology.

McEwan is researching the electrode-skin interface with the aim of improving emergency diagnosis of heart attacks and strokes and long-term monitoring of cardiovascular disease. He is the university’s leading bioelectronics researcher.



Free V2 to CDA Tool Release


Today, HL7 Australia held a one day meeting here in Melbourne, entitled “Implementing CDA in a v2 world“. The meeting was keynoted by Ken Rubin, who gave a very interesting and insightful discussion of the relationship between v2 messages, CDA documents, and SOA (and big thanks to Ken for making the long the trip over from Washington for a few days – instead of taking interesting photos).

Australia has a deep investment in V2, with a widely deployed distribution network that distributes v2 reports from diagnostic services, along with a mix of referrals/discharge summaries/letters between GPs. Just about all GP practices and many specialists are hooked up to the network, though the connection between the network and the tertiary referral hospitals is a bit spotty. It’s not really a network in the classic sense though, distribution is performed by private carrier companies that charge for their services (though the services they offer – clinical desktop support, administration etc are not cheap to provide).



E-health more lost than Atlantis

By Suzanne Tindal, ZDNet.com.au on July 21st, 2011

We all love the idea of e-health — the thought of medical consultations without the inevitable, "but I already said that to ten other people, and what do you mean you need my x-rays?" — but if the Opposition is right, it may never happen.

Yesterday, Liberal Senator Sue Boyce let fly with a fiery speech (health blogger David More has published a copy on his site) detailing the long history of e-health efforts in the nation, which started well before the current government came into power, and how little we now have to show for it.

It seems that both sides of government would equally like to have a functioning system to exchange medical information, but no matter how much they huff and puff, there are still so many obstacles that it feels like trying to empty a lake with a leaky bucket.



Hospital help's magnetic attraction

Amy Corderoy Health

July 21, 2011

THEY don't have much of a bedside manner, but the newest staff members at Royal North Shore Hospital are willing to work 24/7 and never take a sick day.

A fleet of 13 computer-controlled robots will carry supplies around the new acute services building at the hospital, which is due to open next year.

Every day the robots will deliver and collect about 3600 meal trays, hundreds of clean and dirty linen items, and other waste from around the hospital, the hospital's general manager, Sue Shilbury, said.



Court approves CSC takeover of iSoft

ISOFT founder Gary Cohen was notable in his absence from the Federal Court in Sydney yesterday, when judge Arthur Emmett approved the scheme of arrangement that will hand the company to US technology giant Computer Sciences Corporation in a $188m takeover.

Cohen had earlier fought to derail the bid in court, but was chastened when close to 97 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the takeover on Friday and chairman Robert Ellis told him: "The reason we are here today is because of how this business was mismanaged by you."



Medicare Locals will fail without GP leadership, AMA warns

18th Jul 2011

Byron Kaye

THE AMA has used the launch of its annual Family Doctor Week to reaffirm its opposition to Medicare Locals, warning the new healthcare hubs will fail if they don’t recognise the importance of GPs on their leadership structures.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said Medicare Locals (MLs) would only deliver effective local healthcare if they were “implemented correctly with the right intentions, [which] means acknowledging the key role of family doctors”.

His warning came almost three weeks after the 1 July official start date for the first 19 of what are expected to be 62 MLs around the country.



AMA sidelined as rival invited to lead new medical centres

Mark Metherell

July 19, 2011

IN THE face of sniping from the Australian Medical Association, the federal government has asked a rival doctors' organisation to establish a new national body to oversee the Medicare Local network.

The government has invited the Australian General Practice Network to undertake the national co-ordination of the fledgling Medicare Locals being introduced to provide integrated care by doctors, nurses and other practitioners, such as physiotherapists.

The offer represents a knock to the traditional influence of the AMA which has previously enjoyed a favoured position under the Howard and Rudd governments.



GPs set to ditch Medicare Locals contract over board restrictions

19th Jul 2011

Byron Kaye

GPs at a division awarded one of the first Medicare Locals contracts have warned the Federal Government that they will “walk away” from the deal if they are forced to give up control on their boards.

Medical Observer understands the contracts, sent to many of the first 19 winning bidders in recent weeks, explicitly state the Medicare Local (ML) must have a board of 7–10 directors with no single profession dominating.

NSW division, GP Access, is involved in one of the first tranche of MLs, and currently has six GPs among its eight board members. Board member Dr Arn Sprogis said the clause was “obviously aimed at GPs”.



AGPN to oversee Medicare Locals

The AGPN has hit back at claims that a national body is not needed to oversee the Medicare Local network as it was invited by the government today to take on the role.

The Federal government has announced (see link) it is inviting the AGPN to form a new national body to help the planned network of 62 Medicare Locals “achieve their goals” by providing national leadership and co-ordinating closely with other parts of the healthcare sector.



Open Wi-Fi = no sympathy?

July 18, 2011 - 4:51PM

Do people get what they deserve if they leave their Wi-Fi network unsecured?

Would you feel sorry for someone who had their car stolen, if you discovered they’d left their keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked? What if their house was robbed after they went on holidays and left the front door wide open? Leaving your home Wi-Fi network unprotected is just as stupid, yet people still do it.

If you’ve got a Wi-Fi network, at home or at work, it’s essential to secure it by enabling WPA encryption and setting a password. Firstly you’re protecting yourself against leeches looking for free bandwidth, who could leave you with a throttled connection or a hefty excess data bill. You’re also guarding yourself again people using your network to do dodgy things while letting you take the blame. It’s still possible to hack into a secure network, but few people would bother unless they’re really out to get you like the neighbour from hell.



Prices for superfast broadband up to $190 a month

Lucy Battersby

July 22, 2011

THE first retail price plans for the government-built broadband network have been released, with consumers set to pay similar prices for the same services available in metropolitan areas now.

But services will become more expensive as speeds and download limits rise - reaching $190 a month for the highest speeds and download limits.

The mid-sized internet provider Internode is the first company to release its retail prices on the national broadband network. Plans start at $60 a month, including line rental and some telephone calls.



Internode buckets NBN pricing

SIMON Hackett, chief of South Australian headquartered ISP Internode, has come out swinging at the NBN Co as the company announced its NBN pricing plans.

Mr Hackett has pointed the blame squarely at the NBN Co in an extensive blog which accompanied the ISP's press announcement on pricing.

Internode has been forced to offer prices well in excess of those it charges customers for copper-based ADSL2+ services.




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