Monday, August 06, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 6th August, 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

All in all another quiet week - the reasons for this will become clear in a month or two as people slowly realise that we are seeing very little progress - and start to speak out and question just what is going on. Right now there is some element of waiting for a little while and giving DoHA and NEHTA the benefit of the doubt. The next set of Senate Estimates hearings should be very interesting.
Also the Australian National Audit Office does seem to have e-Health and Health Reform on its agenda. It would be fascinating if these are undertaken this financial year. They sure are needed!

Potential audits

Progressing National Health Reforms

In August 2011, all Australian governments signed the National Health Reform Agreement. Under this agreement, the Australian Government has committed an extra $16.4 billion until 2019–20 for public hospitals. The National Health Reform Agreement, and the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement that it supersedes, propose reforms to the financing of the Australian health and hospital system with major changes to the governance arrangements between the Australian Government and the states and territories aimed at delivering better health and hospital services. The changes to the funding arrangements are designed to provide a secure funding base for health and hospital services in the future. The new governance arrangements are intended to improve the responsiveness of the system to local needs, enhance the quality of services, and allow greater transparency. An audit would examine the effectiveness of DoHA’s actions to progress the national health reforms.

National e-Health Implementation

In the 2011−12 Budget, the Australian Government committed $433 million to e-Health, largely as part of ongoing processes to facilitate the transition of paper-based clinical record keeping to electronic means for better information exchange to deliver safer, more efficient, better quality healthcare. Since June 2009, the National e-Health Transition Authority has been responsible for delivering key components of the National e-Health Strategy (a Council of Australian Governments initiative) and, from 2010, had a managing agent role, under the department’s leadership, in relation to the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) for all Australians. DoHA has set a goal to have 0.5 million Australians registered for their own PCEHR before the national launch of e-Health in 2012–13. However, problems encountered in pilot practices, relating to software incompatibility, have threatened the achievement of this goal.
An audit would examine DoHA’s leadership, management and co-ordination of e-Health developments.
----- End Extract.
Page 80 or so on in this document.

Patient ID glitches dog ehealth system

Date July 30, 2012

Mark Metherell

Mark Metherell is health correspondent

GLITCHES in patient identity details for the new ehealth system have been found in about one-third of cases nationally, according to a report the Federal Health Department refuses to release.
The secret report shows patient identity information held by state public hospitals frequently fails to match the data that Medicare holds on the same individuals. Differences in the spelling of names or other variations can pose a significant obstacle, as the system requires an exact match before individuals can get ehealth access.

Health plays down e-health record metrics

The Department of Health and Ageing has played down internal take-up estimates for the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) by Australian consumers as a meaningful metric of the initiative's success.
The opt-in health summary and record has attracted 4500 registrations in the 30 days since its launch on July 1, according to Peter Fleming, chief executive of lead e-health agency NEHTA.
Fleming said the initial figure was based on a system that had not been heavily advertised and was undergoing a "staged rollout" of features and transition from the 12 record pilot sites.

Hard times threaten 200 jobs at IBM Australia

TECHNOLOGY giant IBM Australia has embarked on a restructuring exercise that employees fear will cost about 200 jobs.
IBM is calling it a "redeployment" program and affected staff have been given roughly one month to find another role within the organisation or risk termination.
Sources told The Australian that staff from all levels would be hit by Project Phoenix, IBM's codename for the jobs plan.
In addition, warnings by software vendor SAP, IBM and others to properly test the system were not heeded by Queensland Health because it was considered too great a task.
IBM has yet to deliver the National Authentication Service for Health (NASH), a key part of the personally controlled e-health system, which was soft-launched on July 1.
NASH verifies authorised users and supports secure communications among medical providers.

4000 sign up to Gillard government's e-health record system

AROUND 130 people a day have signed up for the Gillard government's e-health record system since it went live, a senior government official has revealed.
The government hopes to hit 500,000 registrations by June 30 next year.
Department of Health and Ageing secretary Jane Halton said there had been more than 4000 registrations since the personally controlled e-health record system was launched on July 1.
"I haven't seen the figures this morning but interestingly, and without any fanfare at all, there are over 4000 people who have registered for the national PCEHR," Ms Halton said in her keynote address at the 2012 Health Informatics conference in Sydney.

Some PCEHR bugs will be fixed after go-live, says NEHTA

  • by: Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 01, 2012 2:39PM
PEOPLE with hyphens in their names had to wait for days to register for the personally controlled e-health record system, National E-Health Transition Authority chief Peter Fleming confirmed.
Testing and remediation would be done after PCEHR features and functionalities were pushed live for the public to use online, according to Mr Fleming.
"It's one of the reasons why we're slowly pushing this out into the market to have a look, address the problems immediately and that hyphen (issue) was well and truly fixed within days of being identified and made sure that that's appropriate so that's on the hyphen side," Mr Fleming told participants during a panel session yesterday at the 2012 Health Informatics conference in Sydney.

TGA adverse event database goes live

1 August, 2012 Michael Woodhead
The TGA has launched its public searchable database of adverse events, which shows the number and types of adverse event reports it has received for specific drugs.
The online database  allows users to search by the name of the drug, and within a time range dating back to 1971. Advanced search options also allow users to narrow down adverse events searches to broad categories such as cardiac or nervous system disorders.

Darwin shows off e-health initiatives

  • From: AAP
  • July 31, 2012 6:36PM
THE federal government has brought its national broadband network (NBN) sell to Darwin but a planned demonstration of how it will aid doctors didn't go as smoothly as hoped.
"We are having trouble," said Gus Hunter, an ear nose and throat surgeon at Royal Darwin Hospital as he tried to show off a virtual consultation.
"It was working when we tried it yesterday," he added, as he struggled to hear what his patient, about 1000 kilometres away in Nhulunbuy, was saying.
After a few minutes the technology began to work properly, and Dr Hunter successfully got a look inside the patient's ear canal and was able to rule out a middle ear infection or perforated ear drum.

Australia aims to improve NT healthcare with IT

“Telehealth has the potential to save lives,” said Minister Stephen Conroy.
A new government telehealth program aims to “close the healthcare and education gap experienced by remote communities in the Northern Territory,” said Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy.
The program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NT governments and is part of a $20 million digital regions initiative.
The Health eTowns TelehealthNT Network project aims to enhance delivery of health and education services to 47 remote towns and provide teleheatlth services to emergency rooms and resuscitation areas in regional hospitals and 17 territory growth towns, Conroy's office said. The program will “allow doctors based in Darwin to examine, talk to, and diagnose patients in remote areas through the use of high-definition Medicarts and room-based units."

Concern chiros, acupuncturists may create PCEHRs

31 July, 2012 Paul Smith
There are new fears the personally controlled e-health record system will allow any registered health professional to create patients’ shared health summaries — even when they have limited understanding of medications and medical diagnoses.
The legislation underpinning the $467 million PCEHR system states that only doctors, registered nurses and Aboriginal health workers can create and curate the health summaries.
The summaries are a key element of the system and include current diagnoses, medications, adverse reactions and allergies. The expectation is that they will be accessible to the rest of the health system, including treating doctors and EDs.

Health Infrastructure NSW pushes for digital hospitals

Summary: Health Infrastructure NSW is pushing to ensure that major hospitals and facilities are digitally modelled to ensure that they can use future technology.
By Michael Lee | July 31, 2012 -- 03:34 GMT (13:34 AEST)
Health Infrastructure NSW CEO Robert Rust has said that it's time to mandate the use of IT when developing health infrastructure in order to build the healthcare system of the next decade.
Speaking at the Digital Hospital Design conference in Sydney yesterday, Rust said that the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) when building hospitals and other medical facilities will be instrumental in creating better healthcare facilities.
BIM allows hospitals to be built and modelled in a virtual environment, providing stakeholders with better information for decision making. It has been used in the past to model and simulate patient inflow and movement throughout a building, helping designers to optimise the location of building features, such as corridor widths, during the planning phase, rather than dealing with the issue once the facility is built.

Aged care pioneers of the PCEHR

Published on Tue, 31/07/2012, 02:59:18
By Stephen Easton
Three aged care providers became the first healthcare organisations in Australia to see inside the personally-controlled eHealth record (PCEHR), after taking part in a pilot project recently on behalf of the industry.
The major work has now been completed on the Pathfinder project, which began in May and brought together three aged care providers with three aged care software vendors to work through incorporating the PCEHR into aged care services.
A report has been delivered to the Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA) and will soon be made available to the whole aged care industry, to share the findings from the project, which was jointly organised by the Aged Care Industry IT Council (ACIITC), National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and the Department.

Aus boosts investment in health informatics

The Australian Government is boosting investment in health informatics to deliver integrated patient care nationally.
Healthcare agencies and service delivery providers will increasingly use informatics to collect, analyse, and move data across different jurisdictions, according to Dr Michael Bainbridge, programme clinical lead, National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).
Dr Bainbridge, also adjunct professor, clinical informatics, University of British Columbia, was speaking at the industry’s peak Health Informatics Conference (HIC 2012) in Sydney.

BYO devices cause security headaches according to a survey

TECHNOLOGY decision-makers have questioned the merits of bring-your-own-device schemes, with a large proportion of survey respondents saying the practice is risky.
Sixty-eight per cent of organisations believe mobile devices and BYO devices increase risk, the 2012 Quest Software identity and access management study finds.
Seven per cent of participants said they did not know if it was detrimental to their business and the rest said mobile and BYO device plans posed no risk.

Aus e-health drives demand for BYOD

Australia’s e-health sector is driving the demand for bring-your-own-devices (BYOD). Increasingly, personally-owned devices will empower citizens to take ownership and make better choices about personal healthcare.
BYOD technology will change the landscape for healthcare in Australia, according to David Roffe, chief information officer at St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney (New South Wales).
David Roffe was speaking at the industry’s Health Informatics Conference (HIN 2012) in Sydney, organised by the Health Informatics Society of Australia.
He told delegates that BYOD is helping connect patients, medical practitioners, hospitals and clinics in real-time. “Mobile devices touch every work practice in healthcare, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.”

Understanding v2 Acknowledgements

Posted on August 2, 2012 by Grahame Grieve
Almost always, when you send an HL7 v2 message, you need or get an acknowledgement message back from the destination system. This post describes how these acknowledgements work.


There’s 2 main uses for acknowledgement messages:
  • You need some content returned from the destination (i.e. accepting an order, getting an answer to a query)
  • You simply need to know that the message was received and processed without error
There’s a few corner cases where you don’t even need acknowledgement – the sender simply doesn’t care whether the receiver gets it or not. In the real world, the only case that I’ve seen for this is a vital signs monitor that sends an observation message with the current vital sign measurements once every minute. It’s assumed that some other system will raise an alert if the messages aren’t getting through. In every other case I’ve seen, there’s some kind of acknowledgement.

Online database for health providers and policy makers

Healthdata™ is a new, online subscription service that enables users to easily download authoritative, evidence-based health sector information, including projections about regional populations, and the services and workforce available in that region.

Planning the delivery of health care services has been changed forever

Recent years has seen exponential growth in the amount of health related data that organisations have access to. However, much of it is not user friendly, is incomplete, or needs to be compiled from many disparate sources. Also, it is often limited to historical collections. Compiling and manipulating the data to assist with health services planning has proven to be time consuming and expensive.
Healthdata™ provides health providers and policy makers with relevant and timely data across more than 50 health conditions, including all of the Australian Government’s eight national health priority areas:
  • Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions
  • Asthma
  • Cancer control
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Injury prevention and control
  • Mental health 
  • Obesity.

Deloitte drives data-driven healthcare

Big data is coming to healthcare via a new service offered by consulting firm Deloitte.
Deloitte’s HealthEdata service is intended to improve health outcomes by providing the health sector with granular, customised information.

NBN rollout targets set to be slashed

  • by: David Crowe, National affairs editor
  • From: The Australian
  • August 01, 2012 12:00AM
DELAYS to the $36 billion National Broadband Network have forced a deep cut to its construction targets in a new business plan that shows the project will reach less than a quarter of the homes first promised by the time of the next election.
New figures reveal the fibre network will pass fewer than 250,000 homes and businesses by next June, fewer than suggested by recent independent forecasts.
However, the company building the mammoth network will issue a new business plan tomorrow, insisting that it can connect millions of homes by 2016 under construction contracts that a Coalition government would find difficult to scrap.

NBNs 'are about access, not speed'

GOVERNMENT-FUNDED national broadband networks should focus on closing the digital divide with a mix of affordable technologies, not on the fastest possible download speeds, according to a report by Britain's House of Lords communications committee.
The new report, which was released yesterday after a wide-ranging, six-month investigation, could sound warnings for the Australian government's NBN plans. The study raises concerns about the execution of Britain's national broadband policy, accusing the Conservative government of focusing too much on short-term speed targets and not enough on how less-well-off users can access high-speed broadband technologies.

Dextrous robotic hand gets thumbs up

  • From: AAP
  • August 03, 2012 7:20AM
EUROPEAN researchers say they have developed the world's first real-sized, five-fingered robotic hand able to grasp and manipulate objects with human-like dexterity.
Getting robots to manoeuvre objects with precision has posed many problems for engineers in their quest to build humanoid machines to serve as domestic aides, emergency rescuers or factory workers.
Industrial robotic "grippers" already exist that are able to grasp objects and move them but are unable to handle items as a human hand would - grasping an egg without breaking it but also lifting heavy, bulky things.


Cris Kerr said...



Medibank reveals details of healthbook uptake

Written by Kate McDonald on 06 August 2012.

“The next step for us is to connect to the national grid and initially not be a supplier of information but to connect and take information from the national grid.

There's a wealth of information out there that could be available through Medicare – PBS and MBS information – and there could be other information out there that we could make available to our members.

“Then we could extend healthbook into the member's claims history and then into other areas such as digital information like radiology and pathology. I think that what you'll see over the next 18 months is a continual program of work that will extend the healthbook into a more meaningful and comprehensive record of the person's health journey.”

healthbook has been built internally by Medibank with the assistance of IBM, which provided architecture and design guidance, and it has been built to allow additional functionality in future.

There are definite plans to build an app to allow users to access their healthbook through a smartphone, as well as potentially upload information from medical devices such as blood glucose and blood pressure monitors.

Mr Snyders said Medibank had already released an app for making claims, along with popular consumer apps such as Symptom Checker and Energy Balancer. “For us the next steps will be about getting connected to the national grid and broadening the type of information that we can provide. And then the next step will be getting it on to a smartphone device and making it a lot more mobile.”

Anonymous said...

It's early days for IBM and Medibank. Eventually they will probably will eventually be selected to deliver DOHAs PCEHR project - see today's Australian Authority fails to 'deliver' on e-health system giving meaning to the acronym -

Never Ever Happening Till Amputated.

Anonymous said...

Balderdash. Why should they be 'selected over others'? There are no doubt plenty of other companies and consortia out there working on consumer side applications that can plug into whatever of the national infrastructure actually works. It is time for government to stop picking winners (because they have no idea what a winner looks like), and let industry get on and do what it does best. Let the market decide who provides the best consumer ehealht applications, not DOHA. Enough already!!

Anonymous said...

What is their policy, are they telling everyone to wait for PCEHR features or are they allowing the market to operate effectively?

Come on Nehta/DOHA tell us what your policy is? Is everything now IBM or Accenture? Should the small companies just pack up and leave the market?

Are we really going to be in a market governed by the national infrastructure provider and have size fits all from now on. If so then we might as well close down any e-health development from now on!

What is their policy on this?

Will they continue rebuffing local industry or start being open and fair to local companies?