Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 22 August, 2011.

Here are a few I have come across this week.

Note: Each link is followed by a title and a few paragraphs. 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 seems to me that the most important news this week are covered in the first two articles. IBM is a formidable innovator and announcements like this have the prospect of creating significant change over the next couple of decades.

The second is this survey in the Australian

Health of the Nation.

The report on attitudes to e-Health records I see as pretty important and they need to be carefully considered by the PCEHR program.

Of course the announcement of the PCEHR Infrastructure Partner is important but I suspect what we have heard from IBM will have a bigger impact a decade from now!


IBM unveils chips that mimic human brain

  • From correspondents in Washington
  • From: AFP
  • August 19, 2011 4:53AM

US computer giant IBM has announced that it has developed prototypes of computer chips that mimic the way the human brain works.

The Armonk, New York-based company known as Big Blue said overnight the experimental "cognitive computing chips" could eventually lead to machines that "emulate the brain's abilities for perception, action and cognition".

"These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signalling the beginning of a new generation of computers," said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research.

"Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture," Ms Modha said.


E-records in doubt

SCEPTICISM about the security of the federal government's proposed system of electronic health records is running so high experts warn it threatens to render the $500 million system a white elephant.

In the 2010-11 budget the Labor government allocated $466m over two years to set up a national system of electronic medical records, which it said would cut waste such as duplicated tests, and improve care by allowing doctors faster access to patient histories.

But Newspoll research for Inquirer suggests nearly half of Australians may consider boycotting the voluntary system when it launches in July next year amid concerns the government may find it impossible to guarantee private medical details remain private.

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they are not confident their details will remain confidential under the new system.


Can we trust the PCEHR not to leak?

Siaw-Teng Liaw and Terry Hannan

MJA 2011; 195 (4): 222

In April this year, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, stated that by July 2012 all Australians will be able to “sign up for a personally controlled e-health record . . . [that] will enable better access to important health information currently held in dispersed records around the country”.1 Laudable aims, but can patients and clinicians trust the reliability and confidentiality of this personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR)?

The National eHealth Transition Authority’s draft concept of operations document proposes that individuals will be able to access a data repository (“My PCEHR”) and tools (“My Access Controls”) to make this dispersed information available to their chosen health care providers.1 The authors failed to give essential details on how the PCEHR will work, but showed insight in their assessment that the scope and extent of information to be shared in the PCEHR is dependent on the readiness of the health care sector to participate.

The concept of democratisation of personal health information is central to the PCEHR, reflecting the populist philosophy of the present Web 2.0 and social networking environment where information is freely published and shared.2 This increases the potential for leakage of information, albeit often unintended, from clinician-held electronic health records (EHRs) via the disparate members of the PCEHR network (Box). Information that, if leaked, might have potential adverse impacts includes family history of disease, and information that may reflect negatively on other health professionals, friends or family members.2 Information leakage, along with complex access and provenance arrangements and individuals “hiding” rather than “denying access” to PCEHR information, will discourage clinicians from participating in a system where they are uncertain about the completeness of the information.


Technology 'vaccine' for mental health help

Dan Harrison

August 19, 2011

TECHNOLOGY could be the 21st century vaccine for suicide, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse, according to the head of a new research centre that will investigate how internet and smartphone applications can be used to improve the mental health of young people.

Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, Jane Burns, the chief executive of the Co-operative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing, said the internet could provide support to the large numbers of young people who do not seek help for their mental health issues. Dr Burns said 70 per cent of young people who experienced mental health difficulties did not seek care.

''For a generation that has grown up with the internet and web-enabled devices, accessing support online feels comfortable, safe and easy. Its anonymity and 24-hour availability are added advantages for a young person that is not yet ready to speak to someone face-to-face or by phone,'' Dr Burns said.


Accenture nabs key e-health deal

By Suzanne Tindal, on August 15th, 2011

A consortium headed by Accenture has reportedly snagged the largest deal going under the government's migration to personally-controlled electronic health records.

The group has taken out the contract to develop and implement the physical systems, product and interfaces necessary for the personally-controlled electronic health record system, according to reports, with the contract expected to be formally announced shortly by Health Minister Nicola Roxon's office. The government has pledged that the $467 million electronic health record system will be ready for July 2012.

The contract would include the integration of the system with existing e-health infrastructure nationally.


Telstra, Cerner named in e-health record rollout

Health finds silver lining as sub-contractors revealed.

A total of eight parties have been chosen to participate in the infrastructure build for the Federal Government's $466.7 million personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), with Telstra and e-health partner Cerner among those joining the Accenture-led effort.

iTnews can reveal that consortium winners Accenture, Oracle and Orion Health are to be joined by sub-contractors Telstra, Cerner, ThinkPlace, Extensia and Ocean Informatics in the infrastructure build.

The Department of Health and Ageing had agreed to pay out the $77 million budget for the build, with Accenture receiving the lion's share at $47.8 million. Oracle and Orion Health had also picked up $17.8 million and $11 million, respectively, for the license fees required to use the software underpinning electronic health records.

A further $137.5 million had been allocated to 12 implementation sites around the country, tasked with trialling individual elements of the technology to be used in the record with specific demographics.


Australia to build personal e-health system

Written by Editorial Staff

August 18, 2011

Australia’s Department of Health and Aging will get assistance in the design and implementation of the country’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system from Accenture. The e-health system will span all Australia-based health systems and give patients a single record for managing their care.

The PCEHR, which was announced by Australia’s Department of Health and Aging last year, invested $466.7 million over two years to establish the system, which is available by registration.


Health industry preparing to mine patient data from monitoring systems

ADVANCED analytics are set to transform healthcare, as the industry prepares to mine patient data streamed from monitoring systems and held in electronic medical records.

Jim Davis, senior vice-president of analytics leader SAS, says "tremendous amounts of data" are being generated by remote monitoring systems and new digital imaging and diagnostic tools.

"Doctors have live data coming out of these devices and equipment, but to date it really hasn't been analysed," he says.

But that will rapidly change, as health organisations begin adopting mature analytics tools.


Business management system to aid hospital workflow

A NEW IT system designed to improve workflow in surgical theatres has the potential to save time and boost patient numbers through the door.

The customised IT business management system, developed by Queensland University of Technology, has been successfully demonstrated in a hospital in Germany.

The project, involving QUT's Business Process Management group, is being done in partnership with German software company Gecko.

BPM group researcher Chun Ouyang said the system was more accurate, efficient and quicker than a human-run scheduling system.

"Scheduling of operating theatres has been one of the open issues in the health domain," Dr Ouyang said.


Analysis the key to better healthcare: IBM

By Michael Lee, on August 16th, 2011

The lack of ICT in healthcare has led to lower productivity and more labour-intensive processes, and has exposed more patients to more errors, according to IBM Australia managing director Andrew Stevens. Stevens said that more money needs to be spent on healthcare IT, putting special emphasis on data analysis.

Addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia today, Stevens said that at the current rate of healthcare spending, and coupled with the ageing population, healthcare would account for almost half of government expenses if nothing was done to fix the health system.

"Australia's healthcare sector already costs taxpayers approximately $100 billion per year, equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP, and health expenditure is growing faster than GDP," he said.

"Within 20 years, Treasury expects Australia's healthcare bill to top $250 billion as the population ages and as serious and chronic disease levels increase."

He said that this was further exacerbated by the lack of investment in ICT, which would raise productivity. According to Stevens, only 1.5 per cent of revenue per annum is spent in ICT in the healthcare industry, compared to 2.5 per cent in other industries.


Thursday, 18 August 2011 /

Roxon’s health records system a ‘massive waste of $467 million’

by Andrew Crook

The headline announcement this week that health minister Nicola Roxon had hatched a $77 million deal with global services behemoth Accenture to deliver its controversial e-health records system has failed to quell the rage of vocal detractors who say taxpayers are being taken for a ride.

The chosen consortium, also including Oracle, Orion Health and a suite of smaller IT minnows, is charged with rolling out the $467 million “personally controlled electronic healthcare record system”, or PCEHR. It will allow patients to register for an e-health record that could be accessed by GPs and specialists around the country. The winning trio triumphed in the Singapore government’s bid to deliver a similar system last year.


CSC Australia aims to woo SAP, public sector with cloud push

  • Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 17, 2011 11:12AM

CSC has unveiled a three-pronged strategy to push its cloud computing wares in Australia, with executives hopeful it can lure nascent player SAP.

Aimed at enterprise and government, CSC will be able to tap into its existing base of clients such as Defence, Immigration, AMP and Westpac Group.

Customers have the option of utilising CSC's local data centres for either a public or private cloud, or host a private cloud at the premises of their choice.

CSC's private, on-premises offering, dubbed BizCloud, includes an infrastructure as a service component that relies on virtualisation software from VMware, security and networking from Cisco and EMC storage.


Perth's Fiona Stanley Hospital signs on with BT for communications and IT services

Serco partners with BT for the project

The new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, will put communications and sustainability at the forefront of its IT agenda, thanks to an agreement with international services firm, Serco, for facilities management and support services.

Serco will partner with BT for the project. Under the contract, BT will install and manage the hospital’s communications infrastructure and run a range of IT services.

The WA Department of Health announced Serco as the preferred bidder for the contract in October 2010, following a nine-month evaluation process. According to BT, Serco will work with the Western Australian Government as the lead service integrator to provision non-clinical services, with BT as the key IT partner.


BT wins WA hospital IT contract, promises 90 jobs

BT has been selected by international services company, Serco, to be its IT partner on the new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth. The deal represents a first of BT, which has been trying for some time to export its expertise in the sector into the Australian market.

Under the contract, BT will install and manage the hospital's communications infrastructure and run a range of IT services "aimed at helping the hospital become one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly hospitals in the country."


VTE risk calculator for GPs

A new algorithm has been developed to predict the absolute risk of venous thromboembolism in primary care patients.

Published in the BMJ this week, the ‘QThrombosis’ calculator (link) may be used “to identify patients at highest risk of venous thromboembolism and those most likely to benefit from intervention, such as change in medication, mechanical prophylaxis, or thromboprophylactic medication,” say its UK developers.


Data 'matchmaker' finds new uses for drugs

  • From correspondents in Washington
  • From: AFP
  • August 18, 2011 7:35AM

US scientists have devised a drug-disease matchmaking program that mines databases for potentially useful new treatment combinations and has turned up two so far, says a study.

For instance, a drug commonly used to alleviate ulcers has shown promise against lung cancer and an epilepsy medicine for halting seizures could also work against inflammatory bowel disease, the study released today said.

The research, led by Stanford University scientists and funded by the National Institutes of Health, is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


Kids’ medical records abandoned in office

August 15, 2011 - 6:58AM

Thousands of children’s medical files from a controversial treatment program for hyperactivity and dyslexia were left strewn throughout an abandoned clinic in Melbourne.

The files including the names, dates of birth, home addresses and medical details were left inside the Dore clinic at Hawthorn when the British parent company went into voluntary administration in 2008, The Australian reports.


Abandoned clinic's medical records gathered up

CHILDREN'S medical records left unsecured in an abandoned clinic for three years were yesterday seized by Victoria's Health Services Commissioner, who vowed to investigate the serious breach of privacy.

As Victorian Department of Health officials and members of the police privacy unit looked on, Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson removed all patient information from a former Dore clinic in the inner Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. While some files were still in boxes, many had been pulled out and scattered throughout the building, which has been vacant since 2008.

The files will be stored securely while Ms Wilson investigates whether the state's Health Records Act has been breached.


NBN the answer to disability and disadvantaged: Conroy

Conroy has claimed the NBN will take down the walls that restrict socially isolated Australians

Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has sought to position the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a means to connect those who are digitally isolated as a result of age, illness or disability.

Addressing attendees at the National Digital Inclusion Summit, Conroy said the NBN would enable socially isolated Australians to chat, browse and shop, access services and information and connect with their community outside the walls of their home.

“For many isolated Australians the walls or their home define the world, setting the boundaries of their social contact. The internet has the power to dissolve those walls,” Conroy said.


Glitches delay school computer program

  • From: AAP
  • August 20, 2011 7:43PM

EDUCATION Minister Cameron Dick says its unfair to compare glitches in a new computer system used by Queensland schools with last year's Queensland Health payroll debacle.

Half of the state's public schools have been using the OneSchool computer system to control accounts payable and receivable since the June/July holidays.

It was to be introduced across the state next month but the education department backflipped late on Friday after unions labelled the system a disaster.


Mosman Kidnapper Has Links To IT World

By David Richards | Wednesday | 17/08/2011

The Australian man arrested by an FBI SWAT team yesterday in Louisville, Kentucky, over the collar-bomb hoax at the Sydney home of the Pulver family, appears to have strong links to the IT world.

Paul "Doug" Peters, 50, is said to have been a director of the ill-fated Allco Finance Group which collapsed in 2008. Allco had been deeply involved in financing the $400 million deal by which Australian e-health company IBA Health acquired iSoft of the UK (and later renamed itself iSoft) – only to collapse and be acquired in recent weeks by CSC of the US.


Cloud computing 101: The risks of Cloud computing (Part 1)

Awash with cloudy concepts

As the most hyped concept in IT today, Cloud Computing has taken spin to a whole new level. Vendor marketing is awash with the benefits of Cloud computing with little mention of the pitfalls.

In this three part series Computerworld examines some of the very real risks and shortfalls associated with Cloud Computing and also identifies which areas have the most potential to completely transform the enterprise.

Part One deals with the need for greater Cloud transparency and warns users to be wary of vendor certification claims.

It also examines the rise of DevOps, which is starting to generate a lot of interest. But beware: DevOps isn't the right fit for every enterprise and is better suited to an IT organisation with a high level of maturity. Finally, Part One delves into the concept of Cloudbursting.




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