Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 30th January, 2012.

Here are a few I have come across the last week or so.
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

There was really only one bit of news this week that had been the source of rumours late last week and which then broke with the first article in the round up at the Australian on Tuesday morning.
It is amusing to see that the spin machine was still pumping out material even as briefings for the Wave sites were being organised (See items 2 and 3).
We now know at least some of what was reported is not quite ‘on the money’!
Other than that we see more submissions appearing for the Senate Community Affairs enquiry into the PCEHR and related matters.
You can be sure the lobbying pro and con is going on furiously behind the scenes at this point.
Sadly Queensland Health is also in the news again for all the wrong reasons!
All this bad news sadly made some reasonably good news on Telehealth from a large assemblage of publicity seeking ministers (nothing new in that!).
Have a good week - we should soon hear when the Senate Committee hearings will be. They will be interesting to watch!

E-health key trial halted by specifications glitch

MOST of the trial sites for the federal government's electronic health record project have been taken offline after it was discovered they were working to different specifications than the planned national model.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) halted the rollout of primary care desktop software at 10 trial sites on Friday blaming incompatibility with the national specifications.
It is the latest blow for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project, which has attracted $466 million in federal funding over two years and is considered vital to efforts to combat preventable and chronic disease.

Hunter e-health to go live

23 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM
The Hunter will launch personally controlled electronic health records in the coming weeks, ahead of a national rollout on July 1.
Hunter Urban Medicare Local has spent the past year doing preparatory work.
The Medicare Local’s primary care, IT and e-health director John Baillie said the Hunter system would go live in the next few weeks.

Electronic records create healthier system

24 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM
Lost and forgotten referral letters have led to countless Australians being turned away from specialist doctor appointments or forced to wait while administrative staff request faxed copies from GPs.
But when Sydney GP Raymond Seidler sends a patient to a specialist or the emergency department at the nearby St Vincent's Hospital, he knows his referral letter won't be forgotten.
That's because as an eHealth early adopter, Dr Seidler's Kings Cross practice is electronically connected to hospitals. ''The hospital receives up-to-the-minute information including pathology tests performed by the GP and has all the demographic information required clearly legible,'' he said. ''The GP no longer has to print page after page of referral letters and ensure that the patient actually takes the letter with them to the hospital often some weeks later to their appointment.''

Specification issue halts health software

By Suzanne Tindal, on January 24th, 2012
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has confirmed that it has had to halt the planned implementation of primary-care desktop software at e-health pilot sites, due to an issue with specifications.
"This pause will impact work currently being undertaken by the primary-care e-health network sites: Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local, Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local, Hunter Urban Medicare Local and Accoras (Brisbane South). Greater Western Sydney, St Vincent's, Calvary, Cradle Coast, NT and Mater will be impacted on the primary care elements of their projects," the authority said in a statement, confirming a report by The Australian.
Only three projects will not be affected: two pilot sites run by Medibank and FredIT; and the Department of Defence's e-health program JEHDI.
NEHTA said that "internal checks" detected problems with a recent release of specifications, which was pushed out in November 2011.
"Our specifications are subject to rigorous assessment processes. These processes highlighted some technical incompatibilities across versions," the authority said.
It stressed that the software hadn't gone live, and that the decision to halt work is a quality-control call in order to reduce risk. It will work with the sites and the software vendors on what to do, given the delay.

March the target for NEHTA specification fix

Written by Kate McDonald on 25 January 2012.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is hoping to finalise changes to its specifications for GP desktop software by mid to late March.
Problems have been discovered in the specifications for GP software development released in November last year.
NEHTA has put a hold on further implementation of the software, affecting most of the Wave 1 and 2 sites for implementation of the PCEHR.

E-health records moving ahead: NEHTA

25 January, 2012 Sarah Colyer
The clinician leading the government's drive for e-health records is meeting medical colleges on Wednesday and will reasssure them that the program is moving ahead, despite newly discovered technical glitches that could render some software systems uselsss.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) confirmed on Tuesday that it had told GP software vendors to pause work on projects aimed at allowing GPs to send patients’ health information electronically, due to “technical incompatibilities”.
A spokeswoman for NEHTA would not elaborate on the problems. But sources within the organisation are worried that the rush to meet an unrealistic political deadline of July 1 for the start of the national scheme will lead to a system riddled with errors.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with the RACGP and other groups in Melbourne, NEHTA clinical advisor and former AMA president, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, told Australian Doctor: “We have to be upfront about the fact that ‘things have been discovered’.”
Two separates sets of specifications for writing software have been circulated by NEHTA which are not compatible, Dr Haikerwal said.

Oz stalls e-health trials

Pilot catches bugs in specs
Australia’s e-health implementation has stalled because of cross-version software incompatibilities, it emerged yesterday.
The agency responsible for the rollout, the National E-Health Transition Authority, made the announcement on January 24, stating that an assessment of the Primary Care desktop software “highlighted some technical incompatibilities across versions”.

NEHTA halts PCEHR pilot sites

The National E-Health Transition Authority has provoked fresh doubts about the $467 million PCEHR project after it formally halted most of its pilot ehealth sites today.
NEHTA chief executive Peter Fleming announced it had temporarily paused implementation of Primary Care desktop development due to a range of software incompatibilities.
Affected pilots include the Primary Care eHealth Network sites of Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local, Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local, Hunter Urban Medicare Local and Accoras (Brisbane South). Also affected are the primary care aspects of projects at Greater Western Sydney, St Vincent's, Calvary, Cradle Coast, NT and Mater. According to NEHTA, Medibank, FredIT and JEHDI will progress as planned.
The move comes after the government-funded organisation in November confirmed the deployment of “tiger teams” to drive the development and implementation of standards for the PCEHR. It also issued a new round of specifications in November.

NEHTA presses pause on e-health records

The implementation was stopped after internal checks detected issues in the specifications
The National e-Heath Transition Authority (NeHTA) has halted the implementation of primary care desktop software development at a number of lead implementation sites for the $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project.
A spokesperson for the authority told Computerworld Australia the decision to “pause” the implementation came after internal checks detected issues in the latest release of its specifications in November 2011.
“Our specifications are subject to rigorous assessment processes,” the spokesperson said.
 “These processes highlighted some technical incompatibilities across versions. We have identified problems with the specifications and have made the decision in order to avoid any risks.”

Computer glitch stymies NEHTA trial

24th Jan 2012
THE federal government's e-health trial has suffered an embarrassing setback after the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) discovered incompatibilities between the software used on its pilot websites and the main planned network.
NEHTA said it was "pausing" development of its primary care desktop software being tested at the Metro North Brisbane, Inner East Melbourne and Hunter Urban Medicare Locals.
The glitch would also affect other e-health sites, including those of Greater Western Sydney, St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney, Calvary Health Care ACT, Cradle Coast Electronic Health Information Exchange in Tasmania, the NT Health Department and Brisbane's Mater Misericordiae Health Services, NEHTA said in a statement.

Government struggling to meet e-health deadline

NEHTA halts preliminary site work.

The Federal Government is unlikely to meet its promised July 1 deadline for completion of the $466.7 million e-health records project after the body overseeing implementation of the system halted preliminary work in lead implementation sites this week.
A spokesperson for the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) said "work on primary care desktop software development" at ten of 12 lead implementation sites around the nation had stalled due to "technical incompatibilities across versions" of the specifications provided to the sites.
None of the software affected by the issue had been pushed live to patients, but one report suggested NEHTA told heads of the implementation sites affected last week that there was a "potential clinical risk" if work went ahead using the specifications supplied.

Long road ahead for e-health records

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • January 26, 2012 7:37AM
The Health department spent $142 million on e-health activities in the last financial year – around one-third of a total $424m spent on health IT projects over the past 10 years.
Spending more than doubled during 2010-11, up from $60m a year earlier, reflecting a ramping up of work on the Gillard government’s $500m personally controlled e-health record program to meet its July 1 launch.
But documents released today show that while individuals may be able to register for a PCEHR from that date, national usage of the system is not planned in the foreseeable future.

"Limited" PCEHR set to flop says consumer group

19 January, 2012 Michael Woodhead
Patients are unlikely to participate in the PCEHR program because it will offers few benefits initially and will deny patients control over who has access to their records, the Consumers Health Forum says.
In a submission (link) to a Senate inquiry into the PCEHR bill, the CHF also calls for the personal  electronic health records system to be “opt-out “ by default rather than “opt-in”, which it says will lead to a lack of critical mass for the system.
The consumers’ group says a major  drawback with the “opt in” model is that patients may rely on their GP for registration, and thus may not feel personally  involved or engaged with the new system.

'Opt-in' will undermine e-health records: AMA

Government must issue data to support the "opt-in" model
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has continued to lobby the government to change its $466.7 million e-health record system to an “opt-out” model, arguing that the current “opt-in” model will undermine the system’s health improvement objectives.
In its submission (PDF) to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) Bill 2011, the industry body’s president, Steve Hambleton, maintained the current “opt-in” design will undermine the goals of the system, “to reduce the occurrence of adverse medical events and duplication of treatment”.
“In the early days we are concerned that if medical practitioners search for a PCEHR they will often not find one for their patient,” the submission reads. “This may deter future attempts by medical practitioners and consequently lead to a very low uptake of the proposed PCEHR by medical professionals.

E-health funding boost required for x-rays

By Josh Taylor, on January 23rd, 2012
Extra funding for the personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) will be required in order to support sharing and storage of diagnostic images, according to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA).
The government has laid out $466.7 million in funding for the implementation of its e-health agenda, with PCEHRs scheduled to be made available to the public by 1 July.
While these records will allow sharing of basic medical information, more funding will be required to ensure that x-ray images and other medical diagnostic images are able to be shared between healthcare providers, the association noted in a submission to a parliament inquiry.
"This will involve some level of investment in e-health applications over and above that which has already been made," the association said. "We anticipate that a number of funding issues will need to be worked through with government to provide an incentive for practices to participate in PCEHR."

Insurer wants access to PCEHR data

24 January, 2012
The nation’s largest private health insurer, Medibank is lobbying for access to patients’ PCEHR data so that it can identify fund members who may benefit from preventive health programs.
In a submission (link) to a Senate inquiry into the e-health record system, Medibank says that it is barred from using PCEHR data under current legislation, even if the patient consents.
Targeting of preventive health programs is also hampered because patients are unable to authorise insurers to access their records, Medibank says.

Queensland Health accused of bias towards IT supplier Cerner Corporation

QUEENSLAND Health is again facing accusations it favoured an IT supplier that became the frontrunner for a multimillion-dollar government contract.
Confidential papers show a Health boss already was in talks with software company Cerner Corporation at least a year before consultants were hired to conduct an external investigation into potential suppliers.
The electronic medical records project was even given the codename "Project Mango" to avoid constantly naming Cerner in official correspondence, the papers said.
Queensland Health chief information officer Ray Brown rejected suggestions of favouritism by Queensland Health as "ridiculous", saying an independent probity adviser had reviewed the process and found no reason to believe Cerner was treated with undue bias.

Payroll debacle Mk 2 - Qld Health staff not paid today

ANOTHER Queensland Health pay bungle is unfolding this morning as employees take to social saying they have not been paid.
Dozens of Health workers have contacted The Courier Mail to say they their pay has not appeared in the bank accounts.
 It is understood doctors, nurses, and administrative staff are affected.
Workers who have contacted the Courier Mail claim Queensland Health has made no effort to contact employees to alert them, and have instead told workers to "keep checking in,'' themselves with the payroll department.

Seeing the doctor online is new reality

·         AAP
·         January 22, 2012 1:01PM
A NEW telehealth program will enable cancer patients to regularly consult their doctor even if they are hundreds of kilometres away.
The $20.6 million pilot program starting in July will use the national broadband network to deliver health services to older Australians with cancer and those in palliative care.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy said patients in the first NBN rollout areas would find the high-speed broadband network more reliable in delivering e-health services.
They said the network would ultimately transform the way health care was delivered in Australia, particularly for rural and remote areas.

Online doctors a new reality

A $20.6 million pilot program starting in July will use the National Broadband Network to deliver telehealth services to older Australians
  • AAP (AAP)
  • 23 January, 2012 08:20
Cancer patients and the elderly will be able to see their specialist or GP with the click of a mouse, even if they are hundreds of kilometres away.
A $20.6 million pilot program starting in July will use the National Broadband Network to deliver telehealth services to older Australians, cancer patients and those in palliative care.
Groups can apply for grants, typically of between $1 million and $3 million, to conduct two-year trials in telehealth services for patients, particularly in regional and rural areas.

NBN to further boost Telehealth Takeup

A new $20.6 million telehealth program utilising the National Broadband Network (NBN) will provide new and innovative in-home telehealth services to older Australians, people living with cancer and those requiring palliative care.
22 January 2012
Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the NBN Telehealth Pilot Program would deliver services to patients in NBN rollout areas and provide feedback on how this program and other health care measures can be delivered nationwide.

iPhone app scans for skin cancer

January 23, 2012
A mobile phone app that allows people to analyse their moles for cancer risk is a good tool, but should not be relied on in isolation, the Cancer Society of New Zealand warns.
Skin Scan, an application for iPhones, allows users to take photos of their moles and find out whether they are likely to be cancerous.
Released by Romanian company Cronian Labs, the technology can be downloaded for $5.49.
The Cancer Society of New Zealand has applauded the technology as a way of reminding people to look after their skin and seek medical help for any changes to the appearance of moles.

Phone images capture a moral minefield

Geesche Jacobsen
January 28, 2012
How far should citizen journalists go? Geesche Jacobsen investigates.
When amateur footage of a police officer allegedly punching a spectator at the SCG was released a week ago, police promptly announced an internal review.
Shortly before Christmas, a worried passenger filmed a bus driver texting while he was driving the bus on the M2; he was suspended from duty soon after the footage became public.
In the Middle East, authorities have come under greater scrutiny after the world-wide spread of mobile phone videos of the crackdown on demonstrators during the Arab Spring.
But while more and more images from citizen journalists around the globe have been disseminated to millions of viewers, thanks to the internet and the wide availability of mobile phone cameras, this technology also opens up legal and moral minefields

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It would appear that the only way to find out what really goes on is to RTI your RTI. Or at least make public what insiders know but aren’t prepared to say – or cannot due to the consequences of saying the emperor has no cloths. It would seem that in Queensland after many years what will be delivered at best will be Cerner to 3 major hospitals but the remainder of the state and wider 2007 ehealth strategy (including replacement of HBCIS) will remain unfinished and unfunded and possibly abandoned as too difficult (and possibly left to the LHHNs to sort out).