Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 26th 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

An interesting diverse week for news. From my perspective we have had a major warning with the failure of the UK National Program for Health IT to be delivered as planned. As I noted earlier in the week there are real lessons here but sadly the evidence that we are noticing is yet to emerge:
See here for link:
Another report and comment on all this appeared late Friday.

UK health IT debacle a lesson for Canberra

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • September 23, 2011 4:06PM
THE plug has been pulled on Britain's massively costly, long-delayed and significantly under-delivering National Health Service IT reform program.
The Conservative government has announced "the dismantling" of the 11.5 billion pound ($18.14bn) project that commenced under Labour in 2002 and was this year condemned by unflattering findings from the National Audit Office, the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) and a Cabinet Office review.
In August, PAC chair Margaret Hodge urged the government to cut its losses and use the remaining funds to "buy systems that work".
Earlier this year, the auditor found the original vision of a fully integrated electronic records system holding an individual care record for every NHS patient "had no hope" of ever being realised.
And now the Major Projects Authority (MPA) has concluded that the program "has not and cannot deliver to its original intent".
I will provide a wrap up of all this later in the week.

eHealth deadline may be a bad imperative

Techno Blog | 16 September 2011
HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon is one brave lady.
Not many politicians would be willing to stake their credibility on the uncertain notion that a huge and complex IT project will be up and running on a certain date - a target set not by those who have to deliver but a political deadline set by the minister herself.
Ms Roxon has unsurpassed confidence in those who advise her, it seems. Maybe they have crystal balls, maybe they are smoking something stronger than no-label tobacco.
But what if they’re wrong, and the personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) project is not ready for go-live on July 1?
Is it really worth risking a $500 million program - intended to transform the way sensitive medical information belonging to every Australian is shared among 850,000 healthcare providers nationwide - by rushing so the minister can say, “Well, the deadline was met”?

Slashing hospital time with self-serve kiosks

By Suzanne Tindal, on September 22nd, 2011
Patients in the out-patient departments of three Queensland hospitals now follow kiosks that direct them between different services within the departments, cutting down on the amount of time they need to spend in clinics.
Redcliffe Hospital's specialist out-patient department (SOPD) offers orthopaedics, surgical, gynaecology, fracture, medical and private practice to 45,000 patients per year.
It was having problems with patient flow, with patients getting stuck in the hospital for hours on end, being transferred from one section of the hospital, such as medical imaging, to another. Patients arriving would face a queue of 20 to 30 people, just to register their presence at the hospital. Then they would have to wait while nurses alerted the consultants that the patient had to see. A patient's visit might also involve multiple visits back to the administration desk to facilitate their moving between service areas. In order to tackle the issue, the hospital decided to hold a tender process to see what vendors had on offer to handle patients' visit from referral, through consultation to discharge.

GPs expected to set up e-health: Roxon

23rd Sep 2011 Mark O’Brien
GPs are considering charging patients, billing Medicare or demanding yearly registration fees to work on electronic health records, while Health Minister Nicola Roxon has reiterated the government’s expectation that the profession would do the bulk of the work on the new system.
National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) clinical lead Dr Emil Djakic said in the absence of funding for GPs’ time, it could be the patient who footed the bill.
“[If the person benefiting from a service is the patient], the patient is going to be bearing the cost of it,” he said.
RACGP national e-health standing committee chair Dr John Bennett said GPs might try to recoup costs by billing longer Medicare consultations or through rebates for care plans, but direct incentives would be a much better option.

Plea to back e-health records

Paul Smith
Clinicians leading the rollout of e-health records have offered assurances the records are safe, despite patients being free to delete potentially critical clinical information without their GP’s knowledge.
Last week, the Federal Government unveiled its blueprint for the $467 million system due to be launched by July next year.
Patients will be able to remove clinical documents, including event and discharge summaries — a concession the AMA dubbed “reckless and dangerous”.
“It appears that the [personally controlled e-health record] has effectively been ‘de-medicalised’,” AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said. “Medical input has been ignored, while the government has caved in to noisy minority consumer groups.”

Varying mortality rate in private hospitals data

PATIENTS using 12 leading private hospitals in Australia have a far higher than average chance of dying, a contentious analysis of private health insurance data shows.
The study by Flinders Medical Centre professor David Ben-Tovim also reveals nine top performing private hospitals with a much lower than average mortality rate.
Because the identity of both sets of hospitals remains secret, the 2008 study has fuelled debate about the right of patients and taxpayers who subsidise private care to information on hospital performance.

Dangers of de-medicalising the PCEHR

Guest editorial by Dr Steve Hambleton
The Federal Government has released the final version of the Concept of Operations for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system — a document that is very similar to the draft version. The AMA is extremely disappointed in both versions.
For a health record that is being promoted as revolutionary for patients and health professionals, including doctors, it is sadly bereft of sufficient medical input to its design and intended purpose.
It appears that the personally controlled e-health record has effectively been ‘de-medicalised’. It appears that consultation has been merely conversation. Medical input has been ignored, while the government has caved in to noisy minority consumer groups.

GE and HP latest to clamber on e-health bandwagon

The Government’s e-health initiative, for which it has so far earmarked $467 million worth of investment is acting as a lure for the big names of IT with HP and GE the latest to bring new healthcare solutions to Australia.
GE this week announced that its Health Information Exchange, already being used in 17 sites in the US to allow clinical data to be stored and viewed, would be available for Australian clients early in 2012. The company has been tweaking the product for the local market including adding fields to allow management of Australia’s 16 digit health identifier numbers which were introduced last year.

Working Towards an Integrated System

Interview with GE Healthcare’s Vice President of eHealth Solutions, Blair Butterfield.

GE Healthcare announced to launch its eHealth Information Exchange in Australia this week which is seen will make an impact on eHealth in Australia. As current aspirations and concerns about the development of eHealth in Australia continue to unveil, Blair Butterfield shares his experience working on eHealth projects internationally and how Australia could learn and benefit from this.
Interview conducted by Rebecca Merrett
Transforming the Nation’s Healthcare: Explain how the eHealth Information Exchange works and how you see it being adopted in Australia?
Blair Butterfield: How the eHealth Information Exchange works is it’s based on global standards for sharing documents which can be either structured or unstructured and we believe that the architecture is very compatible with what NEHTA has chosen for the Australian national infrastructure. Our hope is that it will be able to provide some of the regional solutions that are needed to connect up to that national back-bone.

Motion Announces The Winner Of Its First Annual Excellence In Mobile Point Of Care Award – Asia Pacific

September 20, 2011
Austin Health Awarded for Enhancing Clinician Satisfaction and Delivering Quality Patient Care
Motion Computing, a leading global provider of tablet PCs and supporting mobility solutions, recently announced from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Asia Pacific 2011 Conference that Austin Health is the first recipient of its Excellence in Mobile Point of Care Award – Asia Pacific. The annual award program recognises commitment and dedication to deploying mobile point of care solutions that focus on enhancing clinician satisfaction and delivering the highest quality of patient care possible.
Austin Health is a major tertiary academic hospital that services the northeast suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Comprised of three hospitals, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre and a full-time staff over 5,200 employees, Austin Health has over 900 inpatient beds and treats around 95,000 inpatients, 172,000 outpatients and 59,500 emergency attendees per year. Its major services include a liver and gastrointestinal transplant unit as well as spinal cord injury, cancer and respiratory services.

HIMSS Asia Pac’11 focuses on eHealth records

Published on September 21, 2011 at 12:02 AM
The HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Asia Pac ’11 Conference and Exhibition incorporating the HIMAA 2011 National Conference, opened on Tuesday, bringing together leading international experts in healthcare information systems and technology.
The three-day event, which is being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, is particularly relevant to the city, given Australia’s National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is establishing a national eHealth infrastructure. The organisers have put together a special Australia and New Zealand track for country-specific sharing and learning opportunities.
“It is the first time that we’ve held the HIMSS Asia Pac conference in Australia and we’ve brought together some of the world’s best health IT practitioners. It’s great to be able to facilitate an information exchange for effective deployment of healthcare IT solutions to improve patient care and delivery across the region," said H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, HIMSS President/CEO.
Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal (AO), National Clinical Lead for NEHTA, who delivered the keynote address to open the conference, said that the release of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) Concept of Operations in September was a major step forward for eHealth in Australia and all Australians will have the opportunity to register for an eHealth Record from 1 July 2012.

Better Health Channel goes mobile       

20 September 2011: Deloitte, and the Victorian Department of Health, have jointly created an iPhone and iPad application for the award winning Better Health Channel. This free app will help Victorians conveniently locate health services anytime and anywhere across Victoria and learn more about medical conditions and treatments.
Frank Farrall, National Leader of Deloitte Australia’s Online practice said: The Better Health Channel is a multi-award winning website and making it mobile will encourage consumers to take even more control of their own health. They can now receive up to date health and medical information whenever they need it and wherever they are within Victoria.”
Deloitte’s Online practice utilised their extensive mobile development expertise to help the Department of Health deliver an app which places up to date, easy to understand and trusted information, which has been quality assured by medical experts in the palm of people’s hands.

Primary care quality indicators launched

A series of 34 practice-level indicators of safety and quality for primary health care have been drawn up and released for consultation.
The indicators (link), which cover aspects of care such as waiting times, adherence to evidence based guidelines and monitoring of adverse events, are not intended to be performance indicators, says the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
“These indicators will be designed for voluntary inclusion in quality improvement strategies at the local practice or service level and may be used by organisations and individuals providing primary health care services,” it says of the draft indicators released this week.

Privacy override could ‘undermine confidence’ in e-health system

20th Sep 2011 Mark O’Brien
GPs and consumers are at odds over a ‘break glass’ emergency provision that will allow doctors to override patient privacy settings in the government’s personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system.
The debate comes as Health Minister Nicola Roxon last week ruled out paying GPs to help establish and curate patient records in the system.
Ms Roxon, unveiling the system’s concept of operations last week, told reporters the government was “not contemplating” a special rebate to compensate GPs for the time it takes to create and maintain the records.

Shift to medical e-records worries majority of Australians with sensitive medical information

Source: The Australian
MORE than 80 per cent of Australians with sensitive medical information are concerned about the shift to electronic records.
A Harris Interactive survey of 5246 people living in Australia and in the US and Britain found a remarkable correlation of results, with 83 per of Australians, 80 per cent of Americans and 81 per cent of Britons indicating a range of worries.
The May survey, commissioned by US-based identity management specialist SailPoint, noted healthcare organisations were sharing information electronically, and asked respondents: "What are you most concerned about in relation to your own personal medical information?"
In Australia, 37 per cent said they were most concerned about the potential for identity theft, while almost 30 per cent feared their information would be exposed on the internet.

HP wins ICT deal for Royal Adelaide Hospital

HP will supply and maintain a portion of the ICT systems for the new $2.1 billion hospital
HP Australia has won a contract to supply and maintain ICT services to a portion of South Australia’s new $2.1 billion digital Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH).
Under the contract, HP will work with the SA Health Partnership (SAHP) consortium, which encompasses Leighton Contractors, Hansen Yuncken, Macquarie and Spotless, to design, build and maintain the hospital’s ICT infrastructure for the facility throughout its construction, which is scheduled to be completed in 2016. It will also operate and maintain the ICT systems for the following 30 years.
HP South Pacific vice president of enterprise services, Alan Bennett, said he could not disclose the exact figure the contract is worth, but told Computerworld Australia the new 800-bed hospital would be the first recipient of HP’s “version 2.0 digital hospital solution”, which includes software applications that link conventional building engineering systems to the communications systems and their mobile devices.

Privacy of patients breached by Professional Services Review

  • Sean Parnell, FOI editor
  • From: The Australian
  • September 19, 2011 12:00AM
PATIENT privacy has been compromised in the federal government's bid to control health spending, with a key agency found to have illegally merged data from Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
In a case likely to fuel privacy concerns over planned electronic health records, the embattled Professional Services Review has been ordered to add computer system and practice changes to a growing list of reforms.
The PSR investigates alleged doctor rorts, but a wave of legal challenges has this year forced 39 potential cases to be abandoned and left about 50 completed cases at risk of collapse. The government, which is preparing an appeal to the High Court, has ordered an independent review and a parliamentary committee is also examining the PSR.

Trusted identities model for online security

WHEN Paul, a retired grazier from central Queensland, began an online relationship with "Selina" from Ghana, he had no idea that over the next several months this scammer and her accomplices would fleece him of more than $200,000.
Online scams are big business. A study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found about six million people a year are exposed to scams or frauds, with more than 800,000 robbed. The Australian Federal Police puts the cost of such scams at more than $1 billion.
Security firm Symantec says 69 per cent of Australians have been the target of online fraud, despite the fact that they are more careful than most when considering online transactions.
According to a Symantec survey of 7000 people in 14 countries, few Australians feel safe online, with 98 per cent expecting to be caught out by cybercrime.

Tragic script will be repeated

By Martin Whitely
September 18th, 2011, 12:54 pm
Methadone is meant to save lives by preventing drug abuse. Other prescription drugs are supposed to improve physical and mental health.
So when the WA Coroner Alastair Hope told me in writing that an otherwise healthy 40-year-old woman died from an overdose of methadone, prescribed to prevent her continuing to abuse prescription drugs, it was obvious something had gone terribly wrong.
And when he added that "in recent times this office has become aware of a number of cases of methadone overdose", it became obvious something is going terribly wrong far too often.

Gamers beat boffins to enzyme code

  • From: AFP
  • September 19, 2011 8:58AM
ONLINE gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where - exceptionally in scientific publishing - both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.
Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.

Particles found to break speed of light, challenging laws of physics

September 23, 2011
  • Finding could overturn laws of physics
  • Scientists confident measurements correct
An international team of scientists says it has recorded sub-atomic particles travelling faster than light - a finding that could overturn one of Albert Einstein's long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe.
Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, said that measurements taken over three years showed neutrinos pumped from CERN near Geneva to Gran Sasso in Italy had arrived 60 nanoseconds quicker than light would have done.
"We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing," he said. "We now want colleagues to check them independently."

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