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, August 01, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 01 August, 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

The first article concerns an apparent technology innovation which, if true, will certainly have a major impact on the NBN build out and does demonstrate the broader lesson that picking ‘technological winners’ is a fool’s game. This is a perfect example of why this is the case.

This is certainly a story to watch!

What follows is links to all sorts of interesting stuff that really seems to show we have a small groundswell of activity happening the e-Health space. A good thing.

All in all not a boring week at all!

Late Note: The results for the Infrastructure Partner for the PCEHR will be announced very soon. Only a few legal issues to be sorted I am told. Watch this space!



Wireless challenge to 'future-proof' NBN

A TECHNOLOGY guru who has been described as the Thomas Edison of Silicon Valley claims to have developed a new wireless technology that could one day rival the download speeds on the National Broadband Network.

The new technology, called DIDO, allows internet users to access download speeds up to 1000 times faster than possible on conventional wireless networks, without any fall in speed as more users get on to the network.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said the wireless breakthrough underlined the importance of being "technology agnostic" when it came to choosing broadband solutions to meet the nation's needs.

The federal government has pledged to spend $36 billion to roll out a fibre-to-the-premises network to 93 per cent of the nation over the next 10 years. The remaining 7 per cent will be served with a mix of wireless and satellite broadband technologies.



Thousands of privacy breaches going unreported

Asher Moses

July 27, 2011 - 12:49PM

Privacy breaches affecting Australians are flourishing but laws provide inadequate protections.

There has been a 27 per cent jump in the number of incidents of stolen or lost personal information reported to the Privacy Commissioner in the past year but inadequate laws mean thousands of incidents go unreported.

At a seminar held this morning by the International Association of Privacy Professionals, the Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, revealed his office had received 56 data breach notifications in the year to June 30 - up from 44 in the previous year.

However, Pilgrim warned that this only included responsible companies that voluntarily owned up to losing personal information as the government had failed to introduce mandatory data breach notification laws.

The worst offenders often got away with little accountability and forensic investigators say almost all incidents they investigate on behalf of companies are not made public.



The truth that sets us free

Frank Moorhouse

July 30, 2011


Illustration: Michael Mucci

Revealing more about our lives helps break down stigma. Privacy law threatens to reinforce it.

I think we would agree - in some hazy way - that privacy as a value, and behaviour surrounding the idea of privacy, are considered fundamental in a good society and to our sense of self. But the more I've thought and conversed about this haziness the more I have had reason to be fearful about the enterprise of legal codification of privacy and have, ultimately, come to oppose it.

Some of my thinking is also, I suspect, wishful thinking springing from my own unorthodox values about candour, but even wishful thinking is part of the ethos-making process. The word ''privacy'' is a conceptual and semantic labyrinth and while, in some relatively rare situations, it can be used precisely, its use generally requires much discourse to establish that precision.

The report by the Australian Law Reform Commission on privacy laws was delivered to Parliament in 2008 and it has taken a long time to gain wider public attention but even there it is stalled by complexity. The defeating complexity is illustrated by the physical report itself. The result of two years' research, consultation and analysis, it runs to 2700 pages in three volumes and put forward 295 recommendations for change. In 2009 the Federal Government accepted 141 of the recommendations - 34 with qualification - and two others were noted. Acceptance does not mean that action will be taken. That is, less than half of the recommendations were accepted, which itself illustrates how far we are from clarity or a consensus on the questions of privacy.



GPs top health website referrers


David Brill

GPs are ahead of other Australian health professionals when it comes to embracing websites as a source of information for their patients, research finds.

A new survey reports that 86% of GPs routinely recommend a health website to their patients -- a higher proportion than psychiatrists, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers or chiropractors.

And just 42% of physiotherapists and 33% of optometrists typically recommend websites to their patients -- making these the most reluctant groups to recommend websites, the study found.

HealthInsite was the top site recommended by GPs, followed by the beyondblue and Diabetes Australia websites. Psychiatrists, meanwhile, favoured the Black Dog Institute, beyondblue and MoodGYM websites.



Australian IT health spending tipped to reach $2.1 billion: Ovum

Technology infrastructure development will drive growth by 2016, says analyst firm Ovum

Local IT health expenditure is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2016, according to a report by analyst firm Ovum, which is driven by increased spending on electronic health records (EHRs), picture archiving and telehealth services.

In the firm’s latest IT healthcare market forecast, the drive to cut costs in the sector, as well as improve patient services were highlighted as key reasons for increased spending.

Ovum analyst, Cornelia Wels-Maug, said telehealth services, such as the monitoring of conditions via telecommunications technology and EHR, were predicted to provide the strongest growth.



Q & pAy, that's the answer

Andrew Taylor and Jim O'Rourke

July 31, 2011

TONY JONES, host of the ABC program Q&A, is being paid to run mock versions of his influential discussion show at business conferences.

Prominent figures in the healthcare and information technology industries, as well as senior federal government bureaucrats, will be at the ''HIC 2011 Q&A with Tony Jones'' - promoted as one of the premier events at the conference on e-health opening in Brisbane tomorrow. Jones hosted a similar Q&A at the HIC 2010 conference in Melbourne last August.

The ABC, which gave Jones permission to conduct the sessions, says the moonlighting does not amount to media training or breach any of its editorial policies covering independence and conflict of interest.



PCEHR targets unrealistic, say software companies

It is unrealistic to expect the government’s planned Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system (PCEHR) to be up and running by next year, according to medical software makers.

The Medical Software Industry Association says it is a “very tight” timeframe to expect the system to be introduced by July 2012 and immediate action is needed to ensure more “appropriate” timeframes are developed.

In a submission to the consultation on the PCEHR system, (link) the MSIA criticises the government’s draft proposal which it says does not cover some key matters including how it intends to educate Australians about the benefits of the system.



Info on SA hospital inpatients online

Shows information on bed occupancy, length of stay and number of surgical or critical care patients

  • AAP (AAP)
  • 27 July, 2011 11:08

Real-time information about the number of patients being treated in South Australia's metropolitan hospitals is now available online.

South Australian health minister John Hill said the inpatient dashboard featured on the SA Health website provides information on the number of patients at each hospital.

The link which is updated every thirty minutes, includes information on bed occupancy, average length of stay, as well as the number of patients in each area of the hospital including surgical or critical care.



Telehealth gets RACGP partner boost

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has met with leading telehealth providers to discuss telehealth opportunities for its members.

The College met with a range of organisations including IBM, Medibank, Microsoft, Telstra and Optus. NEHTA clinical lead and federal government broadband champion, Mukesh Haikerwal, chaired the meeting.



RACGP Telehealth standards project

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recognises that telehealth provides considerable opportunities to improve health outcomes and access for patients to 'attend' a consultation without some of the personal inconvenience and personal or travel costs ordinarily involved in a typical face-to-face consultation.

To guide GPs through telehealth consultations and provide a safety and quality framework for patients and GPs, the RACGP is working on a number of telehealth initiatives, including the development of standards for general practices offering video consultations and an online training and education module on video consultations that will be available next year.

The College is pleased to announce that the Department of Health and Ageing has engaged the RACGP in a project to develop standards for general practices offering video consultations.



Time to use NBN to deliver better, cheaper e-health

AS the infrastructure for the National Broadband Network rolls out across the nation, work is ramping up on the applications that will leverage the power of high-speed broadband to drive economic growth and improve our quality of life.

Of these applications, one of the most critical is e-health, which promises to reduce the cost of healthcare while improving access to health services for all Australians, regardless of location.

The risks, and need for diligence around implementing e-health systems, are high in light of recent failures both locally and overseas.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, annual health expenditure grew by 45 per cent between 1997 and 2007 to reach $4507 per person. With the rising incidence of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, obesity and diabetes, combined with our ageing population, heath costs are set to soar.



Data danger

25th Jul 2011

The blueprint on how the national e-health records scheme will be stored and managed is a minefield of medico-legal concerns, writes Leigh Parry. Leigh Parry

IN JUST one year, your patients will have unprecedented access to their medical records – not only will they be able to view their records online, but they will be able to control who sees them, and even add their own notes.

In theory, the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) scheme will drive safer, more efficient and better quality healthcare – as Health Minister Nicola Roxon says, “Patients will no longer have to remember every immunisation, every medical test and every prescription as they move from doctor to doctor.”

Doctor groups are generally supportive of the scheme, which aims to address the fragmentation of medical records that exist across a vast array of different systems.



GP software gets NEHTA accredited

Plans for the $467 million personally controlled e-health record system are getting under way as a GP practice software becomes NEHTA accredited.

iSOFT which runs the practiX GP software says it is the first NEHTA conformant desktop software (link) as part of the implementation personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system.

It says the software will enable communication between GPs and hospital-based doctors, by allowing the exchange of clinical information through discharge summaries, specialist letters, referrals, health summaries and medications management.



RACGP inks Precedence ehealth deal

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) business arm, RACGP Oxygen, has inked a deal with clinical software provider Precedence that will see it offer the cdmNet online service to GPs treating chronically ill patients.

According to RACGP Oxygen chief executive Mark Donato, the new software will make it easier for GPs to interact with other members of the patient’s care team along with the patient.


Medicare Local in ASIC probe


Paul Smith

ONE of the Federal Government's Medicare Locals appears on the brink of collapse after the Australian Securities and Investment Commission was called in to investigate a planned merger between two divisions to create the new organisation.

Murrumbidgee General Practice Network was to merge with the Riverina Division of General Practice to create one of the 19 new Medicare Locals due to be launched on 1 July. The current chair of Riverina is Dr Tony Hobbs, former AGPN leader and who is considered the architect of the government’s $460 million Medicare Local reforms.

But the board of Murrumbidgee claimed in a statement this morning there were "apparent failures in due process and inadequate disclosure of information by certain parties on matters of material significance to the merger".



Software takes brain power out of hacking

Asher Moses

July 28, 2011

Self-taught hacker driven by ego

The Federal Government is warning businesses to better protect themselves after a man was charged with allegedly hacking into the National Broadband Network.

EVEN if David ''Evil'' Cecil is guilty, he is not necessarily a hacking mastermind. Computer security professionals say breaking into websites and computer networks is now as simple as downloading free software, selecting a target and hitting ''run".

Even without a specific target in mind, a method called ''Google hacking'' allows hackers to find target servers running vulnerable software using just the search engine.

''If an attacker wants to get in, it's just a matter of time really,'' Ty Miller, the chief technology officer at Pure Hacking, said.



Electronic health files secure despite NBN hacking, minister insists

  • Sean Parnell and Ben Packham
  • From: The Australian
  • July 28, 2011 12:00AM

THE Gillard government has moved to assure Australians, and the booming e-health industry, that even if the National Broadband Network is hacked, sensitive medical records will be safe.

The NBN has long been promoted by its backers and the government as a potential driver of e-health initiatives, such as telemedicine and the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record System (PCEHRS), due to be delivered next year.

But the hacking case now before the courts has reignited privacy and security concerns and raised doubts over the National E-Health Transition Authority's commitment to resolve such problems.



Morecambe Bay says Lorenzo works

28 July 2011 Shanna Crispin

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust appears to have turned the corner with its troubled implementation of Lorenzo as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

In an update on the single patient record project, delivered to the trust’s board last week, head of informatics Steve Fairclough, headed the ‘key messages’ slide of his presentation: “It works!”

He also said that staff feedback was “encouraging” although there is still work to be done, and further improvements in performance and usability are planned.



European study sees no mobile phone-cancer link

  • Gautam Naik
  • From: The Wall Street Journal
  • July 28, 2011 11:34AM

A EUROPEAN study involving nearly 1000 participants has found no link between mobile phone use and brain tumours in children and adolescents, a group that may be particularly sensitive to phone emissions.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was prompted by concerns that the brains of younger users may be more vulnerable to adverse health effects -- such as cancer -- from mobile phones.

In the past two decades, mobile phone use has soared among children in developed countries, with one study suggesting that most youths start to use mobile phones by age 9 or 10. Children have a developing nervous system, and cellphone emissions penetrate deeper into their brains. Studies have indicated that the outer brain tissue of children ages 5 to 8 may absorb twice the amount of cellphone energy absorbed by adult brains.




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