Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 12th September, 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

The news for the week seems to have been dominated by the problems that apparently exit in Health IT in ‘the Smart State’ and the release of an updated plan for the PCEHR by the Health Minister.
We also had interesting coverage of some Health IT spend in the NSW Budget and more rather negative discussion of the likeliness of usefulness of Medicare Locals.
All in all quite a busy week.
Next week will also be quite busy.
I have it on pretty good authority there will be some new reading here tomorrow.

Patients see pitfalls in paperless health records

  • Adam Cresswell, Health editor
  • From: The Australian
  • September 10, 2011 12:00AM
ONE day this month, general practitioner Douglas Hor plans to throw a switch that will finally make his medical practice fully electronic -- and at the same time render his more than 30,000 paper-based patient files effectively obsolete.
From that point, the seven doctors at his Artarmon surgery on Sydney's north shore will be compelled to add all updates to patient records by typing on a keyboard, forsaking the handwritten notes that have formed the bedrock of medical practices for generations.
Even the remaining items that continue to arrive on paper -- such as specialists' reports -- will be typed or scanned in and added to the electronic records, as will particularly important historical details from the paper files.

Superhighway leads to coherent and connected health system

AUSTRALIA'S $467 million electronic health records enterprise is the best chance for such a system to succeed where others have struggled or failed.
The National E-Health Transition Authority, formed in 2005 by the Council of Australian Governments to bring unity to e-health development, can be likened to the 20th-century push to standardise Australia's rail gauges. Doing things in a standard way unlocks the potential of the developments taking place across the nation and ends the current situation of multiple technologies that cannot talk to each other.
Why the need for electronic records? They were recommended by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, which recognised that to keep costs contained and the system sustainable the health system must work in a better way. Costs and demand may be rising, but technology is the health system's get-out-of-jail card.

Roxon unveils e-health plan

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • September 09, 2011 10:17AM
THE three lead sites for the $467 million personally controlled e-health records program are operational and initial evaluations have been completed, according to the Gillard government, even though the final specifications and implementation guide will not be released until early next year.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon has released an upbeat plan charting timelines for the rollout of the national reform program, including the government’s e-health and telehealth initiatives.
"The government does not apologise for the ambitious timetable we have established for developing personally controlled e-health records," Ms Roxon's spokesman told The Australian.

Govt issues e-health timeline

By Luke Hopewell, on September 9th, 2011
The Federal Government has released a new blueprint for the deployment of its ambitious $466.7 million e-health project.
The blueprint is part of the government's latest e-health progress report issued this week, which includes a development timeline for the roll-out of the e-health program, as well as the development of personally controlled e-health records and telehealth initiatives.
The government plans to have the national infrastructure for the PCEHR in place within the first quarter of 2012, with further enabling legislation ideally set to pass in March to April.

For babies and tight budgets, long-distance diagnosis delivers

IT is every parent's worst nightmare: their baby is seriously ill, the nearest town lacks the necessary medical specialists, and the family faces a sickening wait for a potentially lifesaving transfer by air or road to a city hospital.
Sadly, this experience is common. Thousands of babies every year are born more than 500km from a teaching hospital, and the families of more than 300 newborns in Queensland alone are put through the anxiety of a medical retrieval -- which can involve roundtrips of up to 1500km.
Australian researchers have now shown that many families can be spared this trauma if city specialists are able to assess sick babies over high-resolution video links that can also transmit X-rays, read-outs from heart monitors and ventilators and other vital information.
Called telemedicine, it is expected to grow after a decision by the federal government to pay Medicare rebates for the first time for such consultations, which became available in July.

Queensland Health payroll staff fed up

Overworked Queensland Health payroll staff say they are tired of slaving away to fix the government's system bungle for little pay
  • AAP (AAP)
  • 06 September, 2011 08:54
Overworked Queensland Health payroll staff say they're tired of slaving away for little reward to fix a system bungle by the government.
It's been 18 months since Queensland rolled out a flawed payroll system where thousands of Queensland Health workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, but the staff addressing the ongoing pay troubles say they are undervalued.
Queensland public sector union Together says Queensland Health is underpaying its overworked, stressed-out payroll staff but is refusing to approve pay increases.

Queensland Health computer glitch causing long delays in producing vital cancer data

ANOTHER Queensland Health computer "catastrophe" is causing long delays in producing vital cancer data used to plan for patient treatment services and in research.
As the department struggles to fix payroll system problems, damning documents obtained by The Courier-Mail outline major issues with the Queensland Cancer Registry (QCR).
The database of information is crucial for health bodies that must decide where best to locate cancer services and ensure they are appropriately funded, equipped and staffed to cope with demand. Researchers also review the data to analyse cancer trends aimed at shedding light on possible causes.
While Cancer Council Queensland houses the registry, Queensland Health manages and maintains its information technology.

Failing Qld e-health system needs $439 million fix

news Queensland Health needs a mammoth $439 million injection of government funding to fix its ailing patient administration system, according to explosive documents tabled in the state’s parliament by the Queensland Opposition yesterday.
The documents represent an extract from Queensland Health’s ICT strategy for 2011. Although they are not yet available online, the Opposition said in a statement yesterday that they state that the current Patient Administration System in use in hospitals and other health facilities within the state could not be supported beyond 2015. Work to replace the e-health platform would need to begin in July 2012, the documents state, according to the Opposition, and the entire replacement project will come at a cost of $438.8 million.
The Opposition stated that this was money which would need to be allocated to Queensland Health on top of an existing $307 million already budgeted for the state’s e-health strategy, and $220 million which has been allocated to fix Queensland Health’s already disastrous payroll systems overhaul.

Queensland Health faces further IT turmoil as patient management threatens to fail after 2015

LEAKED internal documents detailing a litany of risks within Queensland Health's IT projects have exposed an ageing patient management system that could fail beyond 2015.
The failure would leave hospitals unable to admit, transfer and discharge patients, with a $438.8 million replacement system needed to avoid the crisis.
The leaked documents list the risk of failure as "extreme" and the likelihood "almost certain" with "major consequences".
Premier Anna Bligh yesterday insisted there was no cause for concern, saying a replacement system was already in the pipeline. She said the risk list was a "theoretical exercise" to help plan for future needs.

Pay-for-performance programs lack evidence: Cochrane

Paul Smith
There is little evidence to support paying GPs cash incentives to improve patient care, a Cochrane systematic review has found.
Pay-for-performance incentives have been adopted for GPs in Australia through the Practice Incentives Program for the treatment of asthma, diabetes, mental health and for cervical screening. But the model was also touted as part of the Federal Government’s controversial GP registration scheme for diabetes patients. The planned scheme was shelved last year pending the results of a $30-million pilot study.
The Cochrane review found six of the seven studies it reviewed - none of them Australian – showed pay-for-performance programs had “positive but modest effects” on the quality of care. It warned poor study design led to a “substantial risk of bias” in most studies and concluded the implementation of pay-for-performance should only “proceed with caution”.

Online help for mental health closer

Access to online mental health services is a step closer after the federal government appointed a committee to oversee their rollout
  • AAP (AAP)
  • 06 September, 2011 08:49
Access to online mental health services is a step closer after the federal government appointed a committee to oversee their rollout.
The committee comprises a mix of mental health professionals, social media experts and consumer and carer representatives.
Members include Rachel de Sain, Professor Helen Christensen, Dr Jane Burns and Professor Pat Dudgeon.


The Honourable Geoff Wilson

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Minister awards telemedicine trial for sick infants

An innovative telemedicine trial which reduces the risk for sick babies awaiting emergency retrieval has won the Minister’s ‘Best Innovation’ award at the 2011 Queensland Health Healthcare Improvement Awards.
The telemedicine trial provides audiovisual links from remote locations to Brisbane, where specialists can assess the baby’s condition, colour, breathing and also examine images and scans in real time during this time critical period.
This innovative use of telehealth is bringing excellent services closer to home for Queenslanders living in rural and remote areas.

Governance vital for Cloud computing

Effective controls and governance are essential if enterprises are to manage the risks of migrating to the Cloud
Global IT association ISACA has issued a new guide outlining how to implement effective controls and governance for Cloud computing.

Locals struggle to be useful

MYSTERY surrounds the purpose and operation of Medicare Locals, a centrepiece of Julia Gillard's health reforms.
Theoretically, the new system will make it easier for people to get the right service at the right time, while boosting the efficiency of healthcare delivery.
But, as Kim Hosking knows from experience, many of the solutions "are not in the textbook".
Hosking is the chief executive of one of the first Medicare Locals charged with solving local health problems, and he tells Weekend Health that he has adopted some rather unusual strategies to help get his Country North South Australia Medicare Local up and running.
For instance, Hosking says his Medicare Local men's health strategy involves sending health workers down to football training on Thursdays to "capture men between the football training and the beer" and give them mental health messages.

AGPN blasted for role in ML reforms

6th Sep 2011
TWO of AGPN’s highest profile directors have broken ranks with the divisions body, using their board re-election bids to launch a stinging criticism of its role in the controversial change to Medicare Locals (MLs).
NSW GP Dr Arn Sprogis and South Australian GP Dr Rod Pearce, both proponents of the $417 million ML scheme and both up for re-election this week, told MO that AGPN had so far failed to press the government effectively on primary care spending.
Votes for the board elections, cast by representatives from individual divisions, were being counted as MO went to press.

NSW Health gets $115m IT funding

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • September 06, 2011 5:25PM
THE NSW government has committed $115 million to health IT spending this year, with $37m earmarked for the start of five new projects.
The headline figure is $171m for the introduction of a statewide electronic medication management system, but the project will run over nine years to 2020 and $11m has been allocated in the first year.
More than $85m has been set aside to roll out an electronic medical record system to clinical specialists by 2018, with only $5m on the table this year.
And $6.3m will be spent in the current financial year on clinical information systems for state hospital intensive care units, with a total $43m available to complete the task by 2014.

NSW Health Infrastructure seeks IT advice

By Michael Lee, on September 6th, 2011
NSW Health Infrastructure has put the call out for industry to provide ad hoc advice on its major projects, and establish a reference group for longer-term project oversight.
Health Infrastructure, which was set up by NSW Health in 2007 to manage health infrastructure projects above $10 million in value, released the expressions of interest documents yesterday, stating that it was seeking those with health or major project experience.
Successful applicants would provide advice to Health Infrastructure on an as-required basis, such as during key stages of project development. Applicants could also apply to be considered in its Expert Reference Group (ERG), responsible for tasks, such as reviewing plans and strategies adopted by project teams over a 12-month period. It expects the ERG to consist of three to four people, with one of those acting as chair.

Blood products now ordered and tracked online

Released 31/08/2011
Patients within Canberra hospitals who require blood will benefit from the roll-out of Australia's first national online system for ordering blood, known as BloodNet.
Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher, said BloodNet was being rolled out across the country by the National Blood Authority. The ACT will join the rest of Australia in adopting the system which has been developed for use in both public and private hospitals.
"Canberra Hospital, Calvary Hospital, Capital Pathology and Healthscope Pathology will all be using the newly introduced BloodNet system as of this week," the Chief Minister said.

Child-friendly MRI designed to divert

SICK youngsters in South Australia will be the first to experience a hi-tech radiology unit, custom-built to distract and delight patients while they undergo scans using the latest magnetic resonance imaging technology.
The first local installation of Philips's fully digital Ingenia MR system will be unveiled today at Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital, with the companion Ambient lighting suite that creates a visual fantasy land.
Radiology head Rebecca Linke says everyone has been "blown away" by the unit, which replaces a 10-year-old machine well past its use-by date.

Jane McCredie: Who needs privacy?

YOU almost have to be a hermit these days to avoid substantial amounts of your professional and personal information being available to all and sundry online.
It could make privacy concerns over personal electronic health records seem so 1990s. At least that would appear to be the conclusion reached by the nation’s leading consumer health advocates.
After years of worrying about the potential for Big Brother to poke his nose into people’s private affairs, consumer health advocates at a meeting in Canberra last week unanimously backed an “opt-out” model for the planned e-health national system, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Optus signs up to National Broadband Network gag order

  • Annabel Hepworth, Tracy Lee
  • From: The Australian
  • September 07, 2011 12:00AM
OPTUS has promised not to criticise the National Broadband Network in key regions for 15 years under a deal that raises new warnings the $36 billion project will stifle competition.
Just a week after the competition regulator warned that parts of an $11bn deal with Telstra could prove detrimental to competition and consumers, official documents reveal that an $800 million deal with Optus includes an "anti-disparagement" provision.
The provision, designed to help shore up the number of customers using the NBN, stops Optus from being "expressly critical of" or making "any express adverse statement" about the performance of the network.
The ban would apply in the areas where the No 2 telco has agreed to shut down its cable network, which presently passes 2.4 million premises, and is also likely to affect the 504,000 Optus customers who would be migrated to the NBN.

Low-income users denied NBN benefits

LOW-INCOME households will miss out on the full healthcare benefits of the National Broadband Network, with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy admitting the basic service would exclude high-definition video consultations with doctors.
Senator Conroy has long promised the NBN would solve the technological barriers to delivering healthcare services remotely.
But he and NBN Co chief Mike Quigley admitted yesterday the service was "impossible" on the NBN's cheapest plan.
Senator Conroy and Mr Quigley also struggled to explain the level of service to be expected from intermediate packages, underscoring Labor's difficulty convincing voters its $36 billion investment is value for money.

Virtualization 101: What is virtualization?

What are the advantages of virtualization?
The installation of x86-based virtual machines (VMs) has doubled every year since 2001, and this rate of unprecedented growth is set to explode even further.
According to Gartner, more VMs will be deployed in 2011 than in 2001 through to 2009 combined.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is the process of decoupling layers of IT functions so that the configurations of the layers become more independent of each other. As a result, virtualization masks the specific nature of IT resources from their users. Virtualization can occur between hardware and software — for example, a virtual machine (VM) — or between different layers of software, such as application virtualization and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Virtualisation 101: Virtualisation concepts

Understanding the basic concepts of different kinds of virtualisation

Software appliances and virtualisation

Virtual machines (VM) can be used for more than consolidation. Software appliances can be used to package and deliver solutions on top of VMs. Gartner analyst, Phillip Dawson, said a server software appliance hides complexity beneath an application-specific management interface.
Delivered appliances can range from locked-down applications to preconfigured and preinstalled applications, as well as related middleware and management tools. Dawson said early server VM software appliances are mostly ready-to-run demos.

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