Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 28th May, 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

We are rapidly heading to the time when the NEHRS (PCEHR) rubber actually hits the road. As the time approaches we are seeing more and more concerns in a range of areas from implementation support, value to practitioners, safety and functionality among other things.
It is my feeling that the launch will be utterly drowned out by the commencement of the Carbon Tax which I am sure will cause all sorts of noise and carrying on at a political level. We will need to wait a while to see what the real outcomes are and to see if the fear-mongering was justified or not.
Otherwise it seems to me with the comments on the PCEHR and Medicare Locals from the Opposition that we are rather entering some contested times for e-Health in general and that it is a pity we could not be undertaking sensible e-Health developments in a bipartisan fashion.
It might just be that the Government approach has been so flawed that this is simply not possible for the Opposition and I can certainly understand a position of that sort. Maybe if we had taken a more bipartisan approach years back we might have got a good deal further long before now?
To see how far all this has come un-stuck you only have to go and read the 19 page document on the PCEHR from the National Health and Hospital’s Reform Commission.
Go here to browse (if you missed yesterday's blog):

The personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) – decision time approaching for general practitioners and practices

As general practitioners (GPs), every day we see patients falling through the cracks in our fragmented health system. As GPs working in primary care we understand better than any other healthcare sector that without improvements in e-health and medical information management systems we will continue to see our patients exposed to unnecessary risks, including adverse events and medication errors. That is why to date the College has been strongly supportive of the development of a shared electronic medical record.
A shared electronic medical record has the potential to improve our patients’ health outcomes and their experience of the healthcare system.
Savings to the health system will be achieved through a shared electronic medical record. These savings will be achieved from better medicines management and through reduced unnecessary duplication of tests and referrals. Our Health Minister has described it as, “a long-term return of $11 billion for a government investment which includes around $465 million over the last two years, and another $233 million in the next two”[1].

RACGP wary of PCEHR roll out

22 May, 2012 Kate Cowling
Just weeks before the launch of the PCEHR, the RACGP has reaffirmed its support for a shared electronic medical record, but echoed the lingering concerns of some members.
In a memo to members, RACGP president Professor Claire Jackson says an online record would save the health system significantly, but only if a “national approach” is adopted and a few issues ironed out.

50% won’t sign up for PCEHR

21 May, 2012 Michael Woodhead
Six weeks away from its launch, only one in ten people have heard of the PCEHR, and 50% of consumers say they won’t sign up for it, a survey has found.
In findings to be presented at the National Medicines Symposium this week, a survey of 203 consumers found that only 9% were aware of PCEHR.
And while almost 60% agreed with the implementation of the personally-controlled electronic health records system, only 50% said they would sign up to have a PCEHR themselves.

Thousands sign up to '' for doctors

Rhianna King
May 24, 2012 - 8:49AM
A WA website which allows patients to view GP availability across the city and book appointments online has resulted in 3,000 booking in three months alone.
The Australian-first service is now being rolled out across the country after it proved a success with patients who weren't prepared to wait for an appointment.
Perth GP Marcus Tan, the medical director of the site, said it acted like a " for doctors".

GPs to access patient’s prescription histories

22nd May 2012
BEGINNING in July, GPs around Australia will be able to access a patient’s entire prescription history during consultation, as part of a bid to curb doctor shopping and improve quality use of medicine.
Along with detailed information on doses and types of drugs a patient has been prescribed, they’ll receive alerts if there’s evidence of drug dependency, a conference has heard.
The real time reporting software, called DORA, is already being piloted successfully in Tasmania at five general practices, Dr Adrian Reynolds, clinical director of Tasmania’s Drug and Alcohol Services, told attendees at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists congress in Hobart yesterday.

eHealth to save $11bn for budget

David Ramli
The federal government has claimed its troubled electronic health programs will save more than $11 billion over the next 15 years as it guns for a budget surplus.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek made the comments during a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne last week.
“The national eHealth records system will mean better, more efficient, more convenient healthcare,” she said. “We estimate eHealth will save the federal government around $11 billion over 15 years. However you look at it, that’s pretty good bang for your buck.”

New rules for e-health PIP revealed

21 May, 2012 Sarah Colyer
New details have emerged showing what GPs must do to avoid losing e-health practice incentive payments worth up to $50,000.
Under changes to come into effect next February, practices seeking the incentive payments will be forced to sign up for the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system and meet several conditions.
These will include showing they have the capacity to upload event summaries and shared health summaries - which will include a list of patients' diagnoses, medications, adverse reactions and allergies, and are meant to be used by hospitals, after-hours services and other health professionals.

Money woes cause GP PCEHR moans

General practitioners are increasingly worried about the looming July 1 deadline for the introduction of the personally controlled electronic healthcare record (PCEHR). Among the issues concerning them are data governance standards, along with remuneration issues associated with creating and maintaining a patient’s PCEHR.
“Members are worried about the extra workload,” Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Professor Claire Jackson told in an interview.
“They are concerned about resourcing at a practice level, and the people power needed,” she said. “They need more than five weeks to prepare. GPs are the ones who are doing the heavy lifting in the ehealth system.”

PCEHRs will be kept for 30 years after death

24 May, 2012 Paul Smith
Patient clinical information in e-health records will be held by federal bureaucrats for 30 years after the patient’s death — even if the patient has “deactivated” their records.
The government is expecting millions of patients to eventually sign up for personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) after the system is rolled out from July this year.
But it has emerged that even if the patient deactivates their records — which will include health summaries, diagnoses, treatments, event and discharge summaries — the e-health record and its contents will not be deleted from the system.

GP security vital to e-health success: NEHTA

But security, funding concerns remain unanswered.

Former iSOFT Australia managing director Denis Tebbutt has urged general practitioners to better collaborate with the Government's lead e-health body to ensure success of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR).
The $628.3 million initiative, scheduled to go live on July 1, allows Australians to opt into a shared electronic health record, providing information to authorised GPs and doctors on one's personal history and medication.
The records would be stored on a federated cloud of repositories operated nationally, in states and territories and at large hospitals.

BUDGET Review 2012-13 Index

E Health
Dr Rhonda Jolly
In the 2010–11 Budget the Government committed funding in of $466.7 million over two years to establish key components of a person-controlled electronic health record system (PCEHR).[1] While there was some strident opposition to the idea of a PCEHR, based on concerns about issues such as the security and privacy of records in the system, most health stakeholders initially expressed cautious support for the idea of electronic health records. This was because it was generally agreed that these records could save lives and help limit escalating health expenditure.[2] From the beginning, however, many stakeholders doubted whether the amount of funding allocated by the Government would be sufficient to deliver promised outcomes.[3]

Troubled HealthSMART System Finally Cancelled in Victoria Australia

POSTED BY: Robert N. Charette  /  Mon, May 21, 2012
 The Victorian state government finally decided last week to throw in the towel on the nearly decade-long implementation of its HealthSMART e-health record system project after recognizing that the "e" actually stood for an "extravagance" it could no longer afford.
In 2003, Australia’s Victorian government embarked on an ambitious modernization of the state’s health IT infrastructure. The idea was to combine its health-related financial systems with its patient record management systems through the creation of a comprehensive, Victoria-wide electronic health record (EHR) system. The original HealthSMART project budget was $A323 million and a completion date was set for June 2007. However, by the end of 2007, while some 57% of the money had been spent, only 24% of the project had been completed. Projected costs to complete had risen to $A427 million, and a roll out date was estimated to be sometime in late 2009. There was talk at the time of cancelling the project, but the government decided to keep the effort alive given what it believed to be its significant potential benefits.

Fresh fears over e-health policing plan

23 May, 2012 Sarah Colyer
A redraft of a contract giving bureaucrats powers to enter GP practices and access records has failed to allay the concerns of doctors' groups.
The initial version of contract -- drawn up by the Federal Health Department as a requirement for any GP practice wanting to participate in the national electronic health record system -- was sent back to the drawing board last month after outcry from doctors.
At the time, the AMA, RACGP, medical indemnity groups and the nation's most senior clinical advisor on e-health, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, all condemned the "search and seizure" powers in the contract, which had been leaked to the media.
But a new draft of the contract -- released to doctors' groups under strict gagging orders prohibiting them from talking about its contents -- has failed to settle the dispute.

$50 million for Medicare Locals to help rollout eHealth records

18 May 2012
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced $50 million over two years will be made available to Medicare Locals – networks that support frontline health providers – to assist GPs and other health care providers to adopt and use the Gillard Government’s new eHealth records system.
Ms Plibersek said the funding was part of a package to support doctors and other health professionals to help rollout the new system.
“Family doctors co-ordinate healthcare for most patients, so we know they have an important role to play in the eHealth records system,” Ms Plibersek said.

Medicare Locals get $50m for e-health

By Josh Taylor, on May 21st, 2012
The Federal Government will provide $50 million to Medicare Locals over the next two years, to support the adoption of e-health records from 1 July.
Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek announced the funding on Friday, stating that it will be provided in addition to the $233.7 million set aside in the 2012 Budget for the launch of the personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR). Medicare Locals are networks that help to support frontline health providers.

Coalition pledge to abolish Medicare Locals

25 May, 2012 Michael Woodhead
Opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton says the coalition will abolish Medicare Locals as part of a drive to reverse Labor’s creation of “multiple health bureaucracies”.
Speaking at the AMA National Conference in Melbourne today, Mr Dutton said Labor had started with good intent in health but had failed to deliver, ignoring most of the health reforms recommended by its own advisory commission.
The only result was the creation of additional bureaucracies such as Medicare Locals, the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality on Health, he said.

Web to aid health service delivery

THE internet could soon start to accelerate inter-governmental collaboration on delivery social and health services.
Victoria Health was in the early stages of talks with other states to syndicate content delivered from its highly successful online portal Better Health Channel.

Gerardine O’Sullivan head of BHC said it was recognised that the sites content was costly to reproduce and maintain, and that sharing it with other jurisdictions made sense.

Health risks for kids online

HEALTH experts say doctors, parents and schools have a crucial role to play in minimising the negative effects of internet pornography on adolescents.
Their comments  follow the publication of an editorial in the MJA that draws on the latest evidence to show how an explosion in the use of sexually explicit online content by young people is affecting their health. (1)
The editorial authors — Dr Rebecca Guy and Professor John Kaldor, both from the Sexual Health Program at the University of NSW, and Professor George Patton, from the Centre for Adolescent Health at the University of Melbourne — said adolescents were now more easily able to engage with pornography than ever before, both by choice and inadvertently. They referred to a comprehensive Australian survey that showed that 28% of 9–16-year-olds had seen sexual material online.

Queensland Health wins major IT excellence award

QUEENSLAND Health, which had been reeling from massive problems with its payroll system, has hit back by snaring a major industry-wide IT award presented last night at CeBIT.
The excellence in eGovernment awards in information technology were presented at a celebratory dinner last night at CeBIT, a major national information technology show this week at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Queensland Health won its eGovernment award for “The Viewer”, a project that has streamlined how clinicians access patient information about their patients.

SA Health's journey to e-health

By Michael Lee, on May 23rd, 2012
Implementing e-health services for an entire state is a daunting task, but, as South Australian Health manager for e-health services, Bill Le Blanc, has revealed, even the preparation steps are complicated tasks.
Speaking at the e-health track of CeBIT's 2012 conference, Le Blanc outlined the process through which SA Health went to transform its state-wide IT systems.
SA Health was forced to reconsider its IT systems and reporting lines because of legislative changes put in place to prepare for e-health records. Reforming the health department was a legislative requirement, relegating return on investment and other commercial considerations to be of lesser importance, according to Le Blanc. He said that the department consequently had to jump into reform headfirst.

Epidemic reporters needed for national flu tracking
Published: Wednesday, 23 May 2012
The world’s fastest growing online influenza surveillance program is seeking more participants to register their symptoms and help researchers better understand the potentially life-threatening disease., an Australian initiative of researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health, is the second largest program of its kind in the world.
This flu season the program’s organisers are aiming to boost the total number of participants from approximately 12,000 to 15,000 to further increase the accuracy of the community influenza snapshot.


Clinical Safety

The national eHealth system will improve clinical outcomes, and to do that it needs clinically safe and efficient foundations. That’s why the clinical safety and integrity of NEHTA’s products guides everything NEHTA does as an organisation.
There are three key clinical quality and safety processes in NEHTA, the Clinical Safety Unit; the Clinical Safety Working Group and the Clinical Governance Review Board, each ensuring safety.

NCTIS Newsletter

Welcome to Edition 4 of our NCTIS Newsletter of 2012. We have exciting news about recent and upcoming events as well as information about recent product releases to share with you.

Privacy Act changes finally introduced to parliament

The government has introduced reforms to the Privacy Act, after releasing its initial response to the ALRC inquiry over two-and-a-half years ago
Reforms to the Privacy Act 1988 have finally been introduced to parliament, six years after the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) began its inquiry.
The reforms are part of the government's first stage response to the ALRC inquiry, which began in 2006.
The changes introduced to parliament include: Increased regulation of personal information for marketing purposes; extending privacy protections to unsolicited information; restrictions on sending personal information to overseas companies; improved access for consumers to information held about them; and an increased protection of personal e-health information.

Intel researching computers that mimic human brain

Tova Cohen
May 25, 2012
Intel is launching research in Israel into technology that mimics the human brain and develops devices that "learn" about their user.
"Machine learning is such a huge opportunity," Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, told reporters in Tel Aviv.
"Despite their name, smartphones are rather dumb devices. My smartphone doesn't know anything more about me than when I got it," he added.
"All of these devices will come to know us as individuals, will very much tailor themselves to us."
The research, to be carried out by the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Computational Intelligence along with specialists from the Technion in Haifa and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is aimed at enabling new applications, such as small, wearable computers that can enhance daily life.

NBN struggles to connect

John McDuling


  • NBN Co will deliver a revised business plan next week.
  • Chief executive Mike Quigley says the rollout allows for a change of policy after the next election.
NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley will admit tonight the $36 billion national broadband network faces significant construction challenges as he prepares to lower official connection forecasts.
Mr Quigley is expected to tell MPs that the government business enterprise is struggling to cope with obligations to roll out fibre to greenfield developments in remote areas, during what could be an explosive Senate estimates hearing.

The nasties of the net

Matthew JC Powell
May 20, 2012
The innocent choice to click could send your computer into a crash.
As users of technology, we're constantly bombarded with warnings about the malicious things malicious people try to do to our computers. The malicious software they use to do this has a name: malware.
Malware comes in many forms, with names meaning subtly different things. What they do, how they can affect you and how they can be avoided need not be complicated. Along with malware, there are different types of attacks for different gains.
On the theory that a little bit of knowledge can make a big difference, here's just a few of the more important terms to know.

Chrome dethrones IE as king of browsers

Peter Pachal
May 22, 2012 - 8:50AM
Chrome has just edged out IE, according to the latest stats.
This post was originally published on Mashable.
Google's Chrome web browser just passed Microsoft's Internet Explorer to become the most-used browser in the world, says the latest data from a digital analytics service.
Although Chrome has edged out IE before for short periods, the last week marks the first time Chrome was the No. 1 browser for a sustained period of one week. Exactly 31.88 per cent of the world's web traffic was done on Chrome, according to StatCounter, while IE is a close second at 31.47 per cent.

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