Monday, November 07, 2011

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 7st November, 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

A remarkably quiet week on the PCEHR front but a great deal of activity happening under the surface.
I will probably be proved wrong but I have the sense that we are about to see is another resetting of expectations as to what will be delivered via the PCEHR by June 30, 2012.
Everyone I hear from is telling me that the levels of anxiety within both DoHA and NEHTA about delivery are rising rapidly - exacerbated by the realisation that doing the PCEHR is a lot more complex than was been realised when it was conceived.
I think we can expect to see a dramatic resetting of expectations being initiated early in the new year, as June 30, 2012 gets closer and recognition of just what it will take for delivery of something credible dawns.
If there has been a theme for the week it has been an emerging sense that a range of older e-health initiatives (PIP Payments, Product Catalogues, Identity Management etc.) are also really not delivering to expectations. This rather seems to increase the execution risk for the PCEHR Program, as well as to other less advanced plans.

Australian Privacy Foundation slams e-health liability law

THE Australian Privacy Foundation has said it is unacceptable for governments to absolve themselves and their agents from liability for data breaches involving citizens' sensitive personal and medical information.
Draft laws to underpin the operation of the Gillard government's $500 million personally controlled e-health record system also provide another loophole allowing authorities to decide a data breach was "not deliberate".
"Under this legislation, no government and no employee can be sued or prosecuted for any harm or damage arising from a breach," APF Health chairwoman Juanita Fernando said.

AARNet to Kinect the elderly over the NBN

The network provider has joined a collaborative project driven by the IBES which aims to keep the elderly active in their homes
The Australian Academic Research Network (AARNet) has jumped onboard a collaborative broadband project to develop enabling technology for the elderly to exercise at home over the National Broadband Network (NBN).
AARNet chief executive, Chris Hancock, told Computerworld Australia that the 18-month project, driven by the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (IBES), will aim to teach the elderly how to use ICT for health outcomes, whether they are in a wheelchair or are able to stand, and will allow them to exercise different muscles in the body.
“We also believe it’ll help reduce their social isolation and improve their frailty and social inclusion and get them exercising and just generally building up their support and confidence,” Hancock said

Doctors paid $84.5m for e-health secure messaging

THE federal government paid doctors $84.5 million in the financial year ended June 30 for using three secure messaging specifications that are still stuck in the National e-Health Transition Authority’s standards traffic jam and is likely to pay out a similar amount this financial year.
The standards setting process has been thrown into chaos this year, after the Health department cut funding for work being done by Standards Australia’s IT-014 committees in June.
The e-health experts were involved in a large work program on technical specifications needed for the Gillard government’s $500m personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system.
Then last month NeHTA announced a plan to ram through specifications by forming “tiger teams” to fast-track completion of essential work by the end of November.

Senate call for delicate Medicare merger

A SENATE committee is calling for changes to permit the merger of Medicare claims and pharmaceutical benefits information after the federal government's financial oversight agency was found to have illegally merged data.
The Professional Services Review has been ordered to make changes to its computer systems and work practices after the Privacy Commissioner, Tim Pilgrim, found the agency in breach of the Privacy Act in relation to its handling of patient information.
In September, Mr Pilgrim told The Australian: "PBS and MBS claims information were being stored in the same database, and this was in contravention of PSR's obligations under the privacy guidelines for Medicare benefits and pharmaceutical benefits programs."
Similar concerns may apply to the personally controlled e-health record program, where it is intended to include patients' MBS and PBS data along with shared health summaries and other medical information.

New health hotline a Band-Aid solution

A HEALTH hotline designed to keep non-urgent cases out of emergency wards has been slammed as a waste of money. Figures show 74 per cent of callers to the $126 million service are advised to go to hospital or see a doctor.
The after-hours GP hotline was opened in July by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in a bid to take pressure off busy emergency rooms.
But of the 50,000 calls to the helpline, about 37,200 patients were told to urgently seek medical assistance.
The figures come as the Australian Medical Association questioned the service, arguing the best medical consultation is face-to-face.
"The hotline has been established to try and combat the rise in emergency admissions by patients who are not in need of urgent medical attention," AMA NSW director Brian Owler said. "But I don't think (it) is really going to be the solution.

Patients fail to follow scripts

Mark Metherell
November 1, 2011
ABOUT half of Australian patients fail to take their medicine as prescribed, exposing themselves to increased risk of serious illness and even death.
The refusal of many patients to follow the script has generated a rising number of patient support programs of the kind that triggered the controversy over drug company payments to pharmacies to enrol patients in such schemes.
Drug companies have moved into the vacuum, financing dozens of schemes to coax patients to keep to the script, helped in some cases by fees of up to $25 for pharmacists to enrol patients in the patient support programs.

Orion Health's eHealth gives global leadership opportunity

Thursday, 3 November 2011, 2:20 pm
Press Release: Orion Health
Orion Health's eHealth focus providing plenty of opportunity for continued global leadership
Auckland, 3 November 2011 - Orion Health's continuing success is putting it at the top of its game, with CEO Ian McCrae, describing Orion Health as a "global eHealth company" and the leading healthcare IT software vendor in health information exchange.
Orion Health delivers world-class software products for health information exchange, data integration, and clinical care that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare systems for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Important changes to accessing to personal medical records

West Coast DHBFriday 04 November 2011, 9:48AM
Media release from West Coast DHB
A new way of managing personal medical records is being introduced on the West Coast, and residents are encouraged to actively 'opt-in' to the system.
The Share for Care system is being introduced this month by Healthy West Coast. It is a way to safely share a summary of a person's General Practice based electronic health information with other health care providers on the West Coast.
Share for Care allows health workers approved access to necessary information. This will improve the care people receive across the health care system, for example at the pharmacy or at the hospital's Emergency Department.

IT storage upgrade downs Health network

AN IT storage upgrade went so disastrously wrong at the Department of Health and Ageing that a one-minute computer task took up to 300 minutes to process.
Some department staff had to wait between three and five hours for simple actions, such as saving a document, to execute on a server.
This situation lasted for about 48 hours.
Health officials, including department secretary Jane Halton, were livid when the meltdown occurred after a storage software upgrade last weekend went awry.
The changes were made by Health's main IT outsourcing partner, IBM Australia.

Toyota expects to offer health care robots in 2013

Robotic exoskeleton designed to help paralyzed patients walk again
Toyota Motor Corp. is bringing high tech to health care, as it works on a family of robots geared to lift patients and help the paralyzed walk.
The Independent Walk Assist is mounted onto the patient's paralyzed leg, and helps the knee to bend to facilitate natural walking. (Photo courtesy of Toyota)
The company announced this week that it expects to begin selling the health aid robots in 2013.
"[Toyota] endeavors to provide the freedom of mobility to all people, and understands from its tie-ups with the Toyota Memorial Hospital and other medical facilities that there is a strong need for robots in the field of nursing and healthcare," the company said. "We aim to support independent living for people incapacitated through sickness or injury, while also assisting in their return to health and reducing the physical burden on caregivers."

Passenger data not audited for privacy

PRIVACY audits of Customs’ use of Passenger Name Record data supplied by airlines for advance screening purposes did not take place last year, despite being required under a renewed agreement with the European Union.
Just last week, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd revealed that the Gillard government had quietly signed a revised Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement with the EU in September.
Under strict EU rules on protection of personal data, PNRs can only be used for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences or serious transnational crime.

Customs is required to demonstrate that adequate privacy protections are in place through audits that measure compliance with Australia’s Privacy Act.

AARNet eyes e-health NBN projects

Provides isolated broadband connections for research.

AARNet has unveiled plans to connect hundreds of homes for the first time over the National Broadband Network as part of several research trials it has lined up across the country.
The connections will mark the first time the research internet service provider has directly served broadband to residents that are not staff or students of a university.
Its private network has typically been used to connect universities, research institutions and more recently TAFE colleges and some high schools with high-speed broadband.

Health group lures private patients from public system

Mark Metherell
November 5, 2011
AUSTRALIA'S second biggest private hospital group will reveal how it performs on sensitive measures including patient infection and repeat surgery rates, in an unprecedented tactic to lure private patients away from the public system.
Healthscope, which runs 44 hospitals including 17 in Victoria, says its rates of golden staph infections, patient falls and repeat surgery are well below the public rate.
On Monday, it will launch a website detailing individual hospital performance in other areas, including the diarrhoea-causing clostridium difficile infection, unplanned readmissions and orthopaedic fracture rehabilitation.

Cloud adoption takes precedence over security: Ernst & Young

Some 69 per cent of Australian companies have adopted Cloud but information security low on the priority list, finds survey
Some Australian companies consider Cloud adoption more important than an updated information security strategy according to research conducted by consultancy firm, Ernst & Young.
In its latest Global Information Security Survey which surveyed 1,700 companies including 165 in Australia, 76 per cent of respondents said there was an increasing level of risk due to external threats.
However, only 42 per cent of the firms surveyed had updated their information security strategy in the past year.

Report card gives public hospitals an F

Laura Harding
November 3, 2011 - 11:14AM
Australian public hospitals are failing to meet government targets for access to emergency department care and elective surgery despite extra funding, a new report says.
The Australian Medical Association's latest Public Hospital Report Card has found hospital performance in every state and territory is below Council of Australian Governments targets on both measures.
Public hospitals are struggling to meet demand and do not have the capacity to deal with the challenges of an ageing population.

Androids and angels

Nick Miller
November 6, 2011
Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil believes humans will soon be able to live forever with the help of computers. Barmy or brilliant?
IT USED to be that you would go into a dark tent where an old woman would gaze into a ball and tell you about the dark handsome stranger in your future.
In the 21st century, it seems, the tent is a rather eccentrically decorated office in the suburbs of Boston; the old woman, a professorial chap in a suit; and the handsome stranger, a network of hyper-intelligent computers that will take over the world.


EA said...

If "Healthscope.. says its rates of golden staph infections, patient falls and repeat surgery are well below the public rate" then Nick Xenophon (ABC 730 7/11) could ask how rates of cobalt poisoning from hip prostheses compare. Or, for that matter, how any safety & quality data is reconciled across the whole healthcare system.

Dr Julian Fidge said...

I read with interest that people put the cloud before privacy. Apparently, patients think we share their data, anyway, from what I read in the Australian "Health of the Nation".
Anyway, I have loaded Medical Director onto a cloud server at
You can log in as Administrator with the password "md" to have a look, using your Remote Desktop Connection tool under Accessories.
If you want to print, you will have to load your local printer as the first local port (it will come up with your local machine's name in front of it).
Can it really be that simple for us to have a common patient record that we can all access?
The patient data is HCN's sample data.
HCN don't support this kind of installation, and I did it myself on the weekend, but you get the idea. It works the same as if the server was on your local machine.
Dr Julian Fidge
General Practitioner