Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 16th July, 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

A week late, but we were able to register this week for a NEHRS / PCEHR and it seem we now have 1/10000 individuals registered. It will take a good while before the ‘network effect’ kicks in and the record is actually useful at this rate.
Otherwise the announcement on mental e-health is really a good thing at the top level. I hope the implementation is also well conducted.
Many other topics covered - with some very interesting information on a e-Health system is Israel.

2022 people register for PCEHR

Almost two weeks into the PCEHR, and just over 2000 individuals have registered for a personally controlled electronic healthcare record, up from around 800 at the beginning of this week.

PRODUCTIVITY SPECTATOR: Your money and your life

Jackson Hewett
Published 7:33 AM, 9 Jul 2012 Last update 7:33 AM, 9 Jul 2012
Three hundred and six.
That’s the number of people who signed up last week to the government’s new program to slash the cost of our medical spending.
It was a very soft launch for the Personally Controlled E-Health Record but the motivation behind it is right. An easily accessible database that ensures medical professionals have access to all of our medical activities should, if utilised correctly, reduce the enormous amount of waste and duplicate activities that drain federal and state health budgets. It also should help reduce mistakes caused by patients forgetting what previous symptoms they’ve had or drugs they’ve taken.

Slower than predicted start for personal e-health records

Date July 9, 2012 - 1:38PM
Only 320 people signed up for an electronic health record five days after the Federal Government's much anticipated July 1 e-health launch.
With numbers like this, the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record project, which aims to streamline patient medical records to facilitate treatment, is unlikely to meet its own target of registering 500,000 users by July 1 next year.
Australians wanting to consolidate their health records including medications, allergies, immunisations, doctors’ and hospital notes and prescriptions, can apply online at
A slow, incomplete start was predicted in May for Australia's most ambitious e-health project to date.

E-health security concerns blight launch

9 July, 2012 Kate Newton
The Federal Government’s e-health records system came under renewed last week as it launched to the public, with patients struggling to sign up and critics questioning its security.
The first stage of the personally controlled electronic health record — or PCEHR — began on 1 July, with people able to register for their own record.
GPs and other health providers cannot access the records yet as it will still be months before their software is compatible.

Steve Hambleton: Jumping the e-health gun

THE Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record was launched last week. It is probably the softest launch of a major government initiative in Australian political history.
Why? Because it is not ready. Not by a long shot.
For months, the AMA has been warning the government that the PCEHR is not ready. Patients are not ready. Doctors and other health professionals are not ready. Hospitals are not ready. The health system is not ready.
I was one of a group of GP leaders who met with Health Minister Tanya Plibersek just before the launch to explain in person our concerns about the lack of readiness for the PCEHR.
We told her we want the PCEHR to work. We want it to work for our patients and for ourselves. We see the electronic health record as a key productivity tool in health.

No apostrophe name glitch hits e-health portal

IT'S a new, electronic portal where Australians can sign up to keep records of their medial history online - but not if your surname is O'Reilly, M'Gregor or D'Angelo.
The federal government owned up to an embarrassing blunder that blocks people with apostrophes from signing up to their new e-health service.
It follows concerns that people with other special characters in their names are also being refused access due to a glitch in the system.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said staff were aware of the problem with apostrophes but denied there had been issues with other special characters like hyphens.

Auditor-General must audit e-health: Coalition

  • by: Karen Dearne and Fran Foo
  • From: The Australian
  • July 10, 2012 12:00AM
PRESSURE is building for the Auditor-General to examine the cost and performance of parties involved in the Gillard government's personally controlled e-health record program after a dismal launch last week.
Opposition e-health spokesman Andrew Southcott said that given "almost $1 billion of taxpayers' money has been spent or allocated for this in the past two years, it would be prudent for the Australian National Audit Office to examine the PCEHR program".
IT projects were "notorious for costing a lot more than expected and delivering a lot less than expected, and this seems to be in that category".

Call for secure messaging as Coalition demands e-health audit

10th Jul 2012
The government has been urged to focus its attention on developing secure messaging systems for GPs and other doctors in the wake of last week’s jittery e-health records system launch.
Shadow parliamentary secretary for primary healthcare Dr Andrew Southcott told MO the government should have spent the past two years developing secure messaging and other “incremental steps” rather than going for the “big bang, blockbuster approach” by launching e-health records.
Dr Southcott said he would write to the Attorney General to ask that the Australian National Audit Office examine how the government had spent “almost $1 billion” developing the records system.

NEHTA knew of PCEHR delays

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • July 11, 2012 12:00AM
ALMOST all the functionality of the new personally controlled e-health record system is delayed until at least August, the National E-Health Transition Authority's head of the PCEHR program admitted four days before the go-live.
"At the moment, we are in the final stages of the production build-out and final verification testing," Andrew Howard told a vendors' webinar on June 27.
"Everything is on track for a successful launch (of the consumer portal and online registration system) over the weekend."
But Mr Howard said plans for the release of the provider portal were not yet settled.

Sideshow obstructs e-health traffic

THERE is a truck trundling across Australia that should be pulled over and its owners charged with false and misleading advertising.
It's the Model Healthcare Community Roadshow, and it claims the Gillard government's $1 billion personally controlled e-health record guarantees "your health e-info travels with you".
Although that is indeed the aim of modern electronic health systems, the PCEHR is a repository containing a static, point-in-time medical summary uploaded by your GP, and possibly a few "event summaries" from other practitioners.

The conversation is starting....just4docs

13 July, 2012 Dr Kerri Parnell
Australian Doctor is developing a new online community exclusively for doctors called just4docs.
Many of you already comment on the Australian Doctor website or talk about our stories with colleagues. In the near future you will be able to continue that dialogue on a secure social network called just4docs.
Over recent months, a small group of GPs has been helping this secure doctor-only community take shape. The time has now come to widen the conversation and if you want to be the first in line to join, we would love you to register your interest.

Interaction beyond the e-health record

9 July, 2012 Kate Newton
Israel's largest health provider offers e-health services to 3.8 million users, giving patients and doctors the opportunity to interact.
While the Federal Government struggles to get its e-health service off the ground, a similar service in Israel is treating over a million people each month.
Clalit, Israel’s largest provider of health services, launched its e-health wing in 2009, with patients and doctors able to interact through multiple layers of online services.
The service gives Clalit’s 3.8 million patients access to their full medical record — including diagnoses, lab results with simple explanations, and current prescriptions — and allows doctors to easily share those records with specialists and other health professionals.

GP creates Skype site for telehealth consults

12th Jul 2012
A MELBOURNE GP, fed up with not being able to find a specialist to conduct telehealth consultations, has launched a free website designed to connect doctors via the Skype video-conferencing program.
The website allows practitioners interested in telehealth to register their specialty, location and Skype address; search the resulting database for others to connect with; browse registered practitioners with an interactive map; and features a forum and instant messaging.
The creator, Dr Jonathan Brown, said he had received dozens of registrations in the first week and he hoped the site would help other GPs struggling to make telehealth consultations.

The eyes have it for disabled gamers

  • From: AFP
  • July 13, 2012 10:49AM
RESEARCHERS in Britain had built a device using mass-produced video gaming equipment that lets disabled people control a computer with just their eyes -- with a price tag of under $US30 ($29.60).
The gadget comprises two video game console cameras, costing less than $US10 apiece, attached outside the line of vision to a pair of ordinary glasses, reported the team from Imperial College London.
The cameras relay the eye's movements to an ordinary computer, wirelessly over WiFi or via USB, and used one watt of power, they wrote in the Journal of Neural Engineering

Evolving eHealth

eHealth is finally making its way out of the realm of imagination and into reality. But is the hype surrounding eHealth justified?
Often viewed as a pipedream, eHealth is finally making its way out of the realm of imagination and into reality. But is the hype surrounding eHealth justified? PATRICK BUDMAR finds out.
As advancements continue to be made with computer technology, and the Internet becomes more commonplace in our daily work and private lives, transformation is expected to occur in many traditional work sectors.
For example, the retail industry underwent some growing pains in recent years as it was pulled into the digital age, along with the music and film industry. Another sector that is expected to follow in their footsteps is the healthcare industry under the oft quoted “eHealth” moniker.
Comment: Note that the article really does not answer the question it poses as far as I can tell.

Springborg springs motion on health payroll cabinet documents

HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg has ambushed Queensland's Labor Opposition on the floor of parliament, demanding it authorise the release of confidential Cabinet documents.
Former Liberal National Party leader Mr Springborg called a snap motion this morning, calling for Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to hand over legal advice to the government assessing potential financial recovery options for the health payroll debacle before the next parliamentary sitting.
The motion was passed using the LNP's huge majority.
The previous Bligh government obtained legal advice on its options over the botched implementation of the IBM-WorkBrain payroll system, which the Auditor-General last year deemed the worst state government failure he had reported.

e-Mental Health gets a new plan and $110 million in funds

The federal government has announced it will invest $110.4 million over the next four years to build a “mature online mental health care environment” as part of its new E-Mental Health Strategy.
The strategy, released in conjunction with the launch of the e-mental health website mindhealthconnect, outlines the government’s approach to e-mental health and its main areas of investment.

Smartphone stethoscope in with a chance

Date July 8, 2012

Tim Barlass

A MEDICAL device that could saves the lives of millions of Third World children is the Australian entry in an international competition to find software solutions to global problems.
The digital stethoscope is attached to a smartphone, which listens to and digitises a pneumonia patient's breathing sounds and patterns. Those patterns are then compared against a medical database using cloud technology to deliver an automated diagnosis and treatment plan via an app on the smartphone.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research seeks data centre services

New facility will house hierarchical storage management offering and servers
The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) is seeking a data centre construction partner to build a new facility as it prepares for increased storage needs, according to a request for information.
The new data centre will house a hierarchical storage management (HSM) offering and server infrastructure. According to tender documents, a suitable room has been found at QIMR but a fit out is needed to turn the room into a data centre.

'Most embarrassing' blunder: government contractor paid $1m for e-security alerts service loses 8000 subscribers' personal information

Date: July 9, 2012 - 10:21AM

Ben Grubb

Deputy technology editor

A federal government contractor paid more than $1 million to deliver e-security alert services to Australians has lost 8000 subscribers' personal information in the postal system.
AusCERT, which was paid $1,199,484.52 by the federal government to run between July 18 2008 and June 30 2011* lost subscribers' data after posting it to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) on April 11 when its contract to run the alerts service ended.
In an email to the site's 8000 subscribers sent at about 6pm on Friday, the "Stay Smart Online Team" said information that had "gone missing" on the DVD included subscribers' user names, email addresses, memorable phrases and passwords, which it said were "unreadable" (stored as a cryptographic hash).

TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Time for a Big Data diet

Supratim Adhikari
Published 11:04 AM, 12 Jul 2012 Last update 11:19 AM, 12 Jul 2012
The current buzz around ‘big data’ is almost enough to give the ‘cloud’ a run for its money but amid the grand promises that seem to accompany every piece of technology a clear definition of just what makes data ‘big’ can be hard to find.
Well, the simplest description would be that if the amount of data that you need to process exceeds the capability of your database systems, you’ve got big data. This may seem a tad simplistic but it is accurate. Volume is really the name of the game given the massive amount of data generated and collected by organisations every day.
This volume is closely aligned to the other two Vs in this equation – velocity and variety. Velocity refers to the speed at which the data can be analysed and variety points to the multitude of data points from where the information is flowing in.

Government defends web spy powers

Date: July 13, 2012

Dylan Welch and Ben Grubb

THE Gillard government has defended a plan to force telcos to store the internet and phone data of all Australians for up to two years, saying it is needed to allow our intelligence and police agencies to effectively target organised criminals and terrorists.
''In this day and age, an age where governments all around the world are grappling with the challenges of terrorism and organised crime, it is important that our relevant agencies have access to the information that they need,'' the assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, said.

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