Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year To All Who Read!

I hope all those who read this blog have a great 2013 and come back to contribute next year.

This blog would be NOTHING without YOU!

For the record:

Here is how Google reports the blogs stats!

1,006,280 pageviews - 2660 posts, last published on Dec 27, 2012

 Have a safe, happy and fruitful New Year!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

NEHTA’s View Of Just How Well It Is All Going. Not Sure I Am Quite So Sanguine!

This popped up today. It is vital we all know just how NEHTA is seeing itself.
----- Begin e-mail
From: Nafiza Hai [] On Behalf Of Clinical Leads Secretariat
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2012 11:27 AM
To: Clinical Leads Secretariat
Subject: End of Year Message from Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, NEHTA
Dear all,
As we approach the end of the year I’d like to take this opportunity to re-cap on the significant progress made by NEHTA and its partners in eHealth.
2012 has been a challenging year - and what has been achieved is remarkable. The rewards from achieving what we are striving for in the future is exciting, innovative and will benefit all Australians in many dimensions.
The National E-Health Transition Authority was established seven years ago and we have now designed and built many of the component “Building Blocks” for eHealth. These include the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service; national infrastructure specifications for eDischarge, eReferral, eSpecialist letters and the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions; and the National Clinical Terminology and Information Service.
1 July 2012 marked the commencement of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record or national eHealth record system. Consumer registrations have commenced started and strenuous efforts are being made to register clinicians, starting in General Medical Practice but noting the need to connect the whole clinical community in due course.  
Key target groups who will benefit from more coordinated healthcare and sharing of health information include those with specific needs: older Australians, those with chronic or complex diseases, mothers with newborn babies, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people, and Australians living in remote communities.
We are working determinedly to ensure Secure Message Delivery (SMD) is in place, is standards compliant and connects between systems and providers. Any healthcare practitioner is able to connect up the care they provide electronically today using SMD: this gives them an “in” into the system, provides “electronic information” and the same requirements for SMD when met will allow the national eHealth record system to be used. This is very important within GP practice, but much more so in the “out of hospital” and primary care sector – in particular between sectors: most difficulties arise at the interfaces of care. We are supporting the sector in taking up the system. 
As we continue to progress broader eHealth initiatives, we will also be working with the hospital sector: in-patient, emergency and out-patient areas in particular. The prescription and dispensing of medications is another known need and therefore a target for the sector. Excellent, clinically driven medications management is key to the national infrastructure and the safety and quality in healthcare agenda.
We now look forward to building on the progress made this year. What we have achieved to date has been to bring together multiple IT platforms to read from and write to the national eHealth record system in the same way – this is a massive change in use of technology and a great leap in “joining up the dots” in the healthcare sector. 
NEHTA’s focus in 2013 is to continue to develop and rollout the national infrastructure and adoption support required for eHealth in Australia and to support the health sector’s transition to the effective use of eHealth.  We will also continue to develop specifications and standards for other conforming health sector participants to connect the national eHealth records system.
None of this would be possible without the dedication and collaboration of our partners, core funders and stakeholders. From January 2011 to July 2012, NEHTA facilitated or was involved in over 730 meetings, workshops and conferences, communicating with thousands of people from around 500 different stakeholder organisations.
I would like to thank all those who contributed over the year, in workshops, forums, focus groups, reference groups or were just advocates of our work.  We look forward to continuing a respectful, responsive, collaborative approach to improve our understanding of our stakeholders’ needs and to support them in contributing to and being part of the national eHealth agenda.
Now the journey continues – to strive for better healthcare, safer health outcomes, and meaningful use of the emerging eHealth record system.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season, and a very successful new year!
Dr Mukesh C Haikerwal AO
General Practitioner
Chair of the Council of the World Medical Association
Head of Clinical Leadership, Stakeholder Management & Clinical Safety, NEHTA
Professor, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, Flinders University, Adelaide
Broadband Champion (DBCDE)
19th President, Australian Medical Association
----- End E-Mail.
I leave it to you all to comment on how you feel about these claims of such wonderful success and delivery.
Back to sleep again!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy And Safe Christmas And A Great 2013

Just hoping next year will be a great year.

Stay safe and care for your loved ones.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The World Has Really Thrown Up Some Utter Jerks - So Bad It Is Beyond Belief.

Who ever the people are who are murdering the health workers in Pakistan who are trying to immunise children against polio need condemnation in pure and crystalline terms.

They are simply child killers and child murderers for the harm they are doing to the next generation of defenseless and innocent children.

Their stupidity, ignorance and bigotry just defies belief. All I can say is thanks to the philosophers and scientists  who brought us Western European Enlightenment that allows us all to understand just how evil and ignorant these people are and who have allowed us all to have a chance to understand there is a better way.

How on earth do we get these people to realise there is a better way?


Another Problem We Are Still A Bit Weak At. More Work Needed.

This popped up very recently.

Commentary: What about interoperability?

By John W. Loonsk, MD, CMO CGI Federal
Created 12/18/2012
The recommendations for Stage 3 of meaningful use are now out for comment. Coincidentally or not, there is a new degree of pessimism about when health IT interoperability will ever be achieved. The issue of progress, or relative lack thereof, on interoperability surfaced just before the election with members from both houses of Congress questioning whether HITECH funding of electronic medical records should be continued without interoperability standards or more rigorous meaningful use requirements in place.
Some dismissed the questions from Congress as election season rhetoric, but at the same time, many industry professionals have again resigned themselves to a long, slow road ahead. Recent, non-political, Congressional testimony suggested interoperability is still another decade away. And there are enough renewed discussion threads of potential “interoperability solutions” by newbies and statements of dispirited resignation by old hands to substantiate a serious trajectory problem.
HIT’s déjà vu all over again
Information exchange and interoperability have long been seen by people involved in health IT as being central to achieving meaningful outcomes with technology. Health IT professionals certainly recognized that providers needed to adopt health IT to start, but they also have long held that the data needed to be mobile and not stuck in a particular IT system or organization for many of the benefits of health IT to develop. Given how vague and ill-defined interoperability can be, and given the sparse empirical evidence for some of these assumptions, it is a little surprising how resolute the professionals are with these conclusions. Perhaps it comes from the practical challenges of trying to support continuity of care, or of working to aggregate data for quality, efficiency, public health, and research purposes, or from simply battling the obstacles to making disparate hospital systems work together.
Lots more here:
Definitely an issue we are not on top of so far!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We Are Not Alone With The Cyber Hackers! Not A Good Thing.

Saw this today and thought of the Queensland Clinic that has their data encrypted.

Healthcare industry is a 'cyberterrorism' target

December 18, 2012 | By Dan Bowman
A lack of spending on healthcare data security and an increased emphasis on digital activity are primary reasons why the U.S. healthcare industry is at risk as a cyberterrorism target, according to an article published in the December issue of the journal Telemedicine and e-Health. The article's authors say that the industry, as a whole, is difficult to protect because it is made up of "decentralized and loosely coupled organizations," rather than a homogenous entity.
A cyber attack likely would take place over a period of weeks via a "series of small incursions that are much more difficult to detect," according to the article. For instance, hackers might use phishing emails to introduce malware into hospital networks, which then would gradually erode system quality by infecting patient record databases, mobile devices and, eventually, medical monitors and drug infusion pumps.
Lots more here:
Worth a read.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Interesting Blog On Australian E-Health Program. Worth A Browse.

This popped up today and is worth pointing out - if only to welcome back Mark Metherell (late of Farifax) back writing on Health / e-Health.

Do look now, there’s a revolution

Mark Metherell | Dec 18, 2012 9:03AM | EMAIL | PRINT
The e-health revolution has begun with a whimper.   As Associate Professor Craig Fry writes below, the lack of public awareness about the introduction of such a far-reaching development is a shame.
The low-key approach also appears to be part of a quietly-quietly tactic by the Federal Government.  That stems partly from the delay and snag-prone nature of the national e-health project which has been promised for the past decade, sucked in many hundreds of millions of dollars and not yet shown much return.
The delicate issue of patient privacy and the  big brother overtones of national patient record system,  which encouraged the Government to make it an opt in rather than opt out scheme,  also explains the lack of popular engagement with this revolution.
On the basis of troubled experience in other countries’ e-health developments, a hesitant start may have some virtue.
But the Government’s small-target approach means the transformational benefit of e-health is struggling to reach enough Australians.
Read the rest actual blog here:
An interesting set of comments - I feel it is a trifle optimistic and rather exaggerates what may be obtained as benefits, but wonder what others think.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 17th December, 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 fun / horror filled week with children murdered in the US and hackers attacking medical centres while at the same time we watch the Qld Payroll Story keep on giving and we wonder just when some accountability will emerge for the unloved PCEHR fiasco.
My weekly check of my PCEHR reveals a rather faster log in - avoids 1 screen - and a still very slow actual system - as well as an update of my medications to the middle of October.
This is the last blog for this year - amazing breaking news being all that will flush me out until mid to late January.
Enjoy the holiday period and the company of those you care for.
Thanks for all the support and comments. It has made it all worthwhile!
For those of a statistical bent I will note that the blog has now had over 400,000 visits and 700,000 page views since it was kicked off. Again thanks!

Hacked QLD medical centre assures patients records intact

11th Dec 2012
THE co-owner of a Gold Coast medical centre, which was the target of eastern European computer hackers, has given assurances patient health records have not been stolen despite being held for ransom.
Miami Family Medical Centre co-owner David Wood told MO he went to access patient files on his computer at the medical practice he owns on 1 December and found the screen on the server was locked and instead contained what he called a “ransom note”.
“Basically saying your system is locked, your data encrypted, you won’t be able to de-encrypt it and you need to make contact,” he said.

Russian hackers hold Gold Coast doctors to ransom

By Sara Hicks
Russian hackers are holding a Gold Coast medical centre to ransom after encrypting thousands of patient health records.
The hackers are demanding a ransom of $4,000 to decrypt the sensitive information held on a server at the Miami Family Medical Centre.
IT security expert Nigel Phair says this latest attack is a "wake-up call" with businesses around Australia hacked five to 10 times a week.

Aust govt justifies insourcing bungled IBM e-health project

Summary: The National E-Health Transition Authority has said that the work IBM was doing for the e-health project before being dumped can now be done internally by the organisation, thanks to advancements in technology.
By Josh Taylor | December 11, 2012 -- 05:32 GMT (16:32 AEST)
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has defended the decision to implement its own authentication service for e-health records after its multi-million dollar contract with IBM fell apart.
IBM's AU$23.6 million contract with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) was signed in 2011 for delivery by June 30, 2012. IBM was tasked to develop a system that would use public key infrastructure and secure tokens, such as smart cards, in order to provide an authenticated service. This was so that healthcare personnel and providers could exchange e-health information, including referrals, prescriptions, and personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHRs), as part of the Australian government's AU$466.7 billion investment in e-health.

Data is not a dirty word

Date December 14, 2012

Peter Martin

Economics correspondent

Kim Carr believes the country's wealth of data could be used to make a huge difference to people's lives, allowing early intervention in health and social problems.
Kim Carr wants to use government data to know what you need, even before you know you need it.
KIM Carr is impatient. Fiona Stanley is angry. Between them Australia's new Minister for Human Services and the former Australian of the Year want to solve some of Australia's most intractable problems by mining what could be Australia's greatest resource - its data.
Unexpectedly, the Victorian senator has found himself sitting on top of more data than any minister before him. In March, Julia Gillard withdrew his beloved manufacturing portfolio a few months after taking away innovation, industry, science and research. Human services looked like a consolation prize, or a punishment for backing Kevin Rudd in the leadership struggle.

Privacy fears under Medicare Locals

14 December, 2012
Medicare Locals have been accused of a "gross breach of patient privacy" for forcing GPs to hand over sensitive health information on patients wanting to access subsidised psychological services.
Bayside Medicare Local in Melbourne wrote to GPs in the area in October, telling them to attach a copy of patients' mental health treatment plans with every referral request for the Federal Government's Access to Allied Psychological Services scheme.
The Medicare Local would then use this information to determine if individuals deserved access to the program, which subsidises psychological care for a capped number of patients.

Case Study: Linking restless nights with black dog days

Preventing depression is the aim of a new online-based sleep improvement clinical trial being run by the Black Dog Institute. Will Turner reports.

Research shows people with depression and anxiety are over-represented among the 10 percent of Australians who report ongoing problems with insomnia. Yet beyond hearsay, little is known about the the impact a better night’s sleep could have on keeping these disorders from taking root in the first place.
The Good Night Study will shed light on this issue by testing how a web-based training program to address insomnia affects the mental wellbeing of people who may be at risk of developing a mood disorder. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the study is being led by Professor Helen Christensen, the Black Dog Institute’s executive director.

Premier Campbell Newman to announce inquiry into Queensland Health payroll debacle

THE health payroll debacle will be investigated by a Commission of Inquiry, with Royal Commission powers.
The Courier-Mail has learnt Premier Campbell Newman will on Thursday announce the inquiry, which will have a three month time-limit and will likely commence early in the new year.
Details of the inquiry are expected to be released at a press conference on Thursday morning featuring Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

Former IT minister not worried about Qld Health payroll inquiry

Summary: Former Queensland Labor IT Minister Robert Schwarten, who oversaw the health payroll debacle, isn't worried about the upcoming commission of inquiry and has said that his hands are clean.
By AAP and Michael Lee | December 14, 2012 -- 01:58 GMT (12:58 AEST)
The former state IT minister who was in charge of the IBM payroll project for Queensland Health says that he isn't worried about having to testify at an inquiry set up by the Newman government.
Yesterday, Premier Campbell Newman announced a AU$5 million commission of inquiry into Queensland Health's bungled payroll system, to be headed by retired Court of Appeal Judge Richard Chesterman QC.

Phones become mobile medical labs

  • by: Jennifer Foreshew
  • From: The Australian
  • December 11, 2012 12:00AM
A SYSTEM that turns a smartphone into a mobile medical lab will let researchers cut data collection times from several months to just a few days.
The system is designed to make heart rate research cheaper, portable and straightforward.
Created by University of Sydney PhD student James Heathers, the system uses a sensor placed on the finger instead of electrodes on the chest, and a signal is sent through a hardware receiver.
The system uses software specifically designed to read the signal.
The data can be exported straight from the phone and sent to a researcher.

Too much business influence on ID verification plan?

ACCAN sees “no clear case” for National Trusted Identities Framework.
A proposed National Trusted Identities Framework (NTIF) appears to provide few benefits and “a number of risks” for consumers, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).
Under the proposed NTIF, the government and private sector could share consumer identity information with the goal of faster identity verification.
However, in a submission today to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, ACCAN said “no clear case” has been “made from a consumer perspective that the NTIF is needed.”

WA Health deploys predictive analytics

Western Australia is set to harness predictive modelling technology currently used in industries such as finance and retail for the benefit of its public health system in 2013.
Initiated by the WA Department of Health, the Predictive Analytics Project will enable new ways of forecasting health service activity such as inpatient, emergency department and ambulance demand.

Opportunities abound in Australia’s ageing population: Report

By Michelle Hammond
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Australia’s ageing population provides opportunities to develop a range of social, workforce, and industry research and technological innovations, according to a new government report.
 The Australian Innovation System Report is an annual series of reports, starting in 2010, on the performance of Australia’s national innovation system.
 The latest report suggests innovative firms of all sizes are almost twice as likely to report an increase in productivity compared to those that do not innovate.

SoundSorter will get the toddlers talking

  • by: Jennifer Foreshew
  • From: The Australian
  • December 11, 2012 12:00AM
A SHORTAGE of speech pathologists in NSW has prompted the trial of innovative technology aimed at supporting preschoolers with speech difficulties.
The study will see 1250 children screened across 18 early childhood education and care sites in NSW from early next year. The trial will then provide "interventions" for 128 children.
Led by Charles Sturt University's Sharynne McLeod and Jane McCormack, the research will adapt a computer program developed at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, for Australian children.

Windows open on a healthy future

  • by: Jennifer Foreshew
  • From: The Australian
  • December 11, 2012 12:00AM
CASE STUDY: Western Health
PROBLEM: Needed to cater for one of the fastest-growing catchments within Australia and ensure ICT systems were flexible and secure.
PROCESS: Deployed Windows Server 2012.
RESULT: Prepared for future growth. Able to reduce storage footprint by 56 per cent, deploying virtual machines is about 40 per cent faster.
PUBLIC health services provider Western Health is located in one of the fastest growing catchments in Australia and needed to prepare its IT systems for the future.
Western Health is the biggest public health services provider in western metropolitan Melbourne. It has hospitals at Footscray, Sunshine, Williamstown and Sunbury as well as aged residential care services and drug and alcohol services. It delivers a range of emergency, elective, surgical, sub-acute, obstetrics and pediatrics services.

Cloud 101: Australia's cloud outlook

Competition among cloud providers in Australia, particularly in the IaaS space, is set to heat up
The high level of virtualization in Australia and customer concerns about off-shore hosting of data and latency make the country a tempting location for cloud providers to set up shop, despite the high cost of real estate and labour.
Gartner forecasts that Australian spending on public cloud will reach $2.4 billion this year, up 18.8 per cent from 2011. The analyst firm is predicting that spending on cloud services in Australia will have a compound annual growth rate of 16.0 per cent from 2011 to 2016.
Last month Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its Sydney Region, which comprises two Availability Zones, and in August Rackspace announced the launch of a data centre in western Sydney[1], with the company promising to bring its full suite of offerings, including cloud services based on the open source OpenStack collection of software, to Australia.

AusHealthIT Poll Number 149 – Results – 17th December, 2012.

The question was:

Will We See Rapidly Accelerating Adoption And Use Of The NEHRS / PCEHR Over 2013?

It Will Be Widely Used 9% (4)
Usage Will Increase A Fair Bit 9% (4)
Usage Will Speed Up Slightly 9% (4)
The Slow Trend Of Usage Growth Will Continue 61% (27)
I Have No Idea 11% (5)
Total votes: 44
Very interesting.  It seems a good majority think this will all just meander along at best.  It is hard to disagree.
Again, many thanks to those that voted!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Year Wraps Up With A Whimper With Lots Happening Behind The Scenes. What Have We Learnt?

It seems to me that next year will be a fascinating one where I will be proven either to be pretty much on the money or to have been a raving Luddite!

Either we will see a major start to adoption and use of all the technologies pushed by e-PIP and the NEHRS / PCEHR rise and come together in a seamless and wondrous whole - or it will be a great less better than that. I know where my $2.00 is bet!

With an election coming towards to end of the year, if those commentators on such things are right, it seems likely that no matter who wins there will be a review and assessment of just what has happened over the last few years and whether it should all continue.

My key learning this year is that DoHA and NEHTA really could not care less about patient outcomes. As all their presentations keep saying they are worried about the sustainability of the health budget and for some reason think what they are doing in e-Health will help address that problem. If experience globally is anything to go by they may be very sadly disappointed.

On that same theme my key prediction for the next year is that quite soon it is going to be noticed that the planned move to Activity Based Funding for the hospital system is a great deal more complex from an information standpoint than realised and that the systems to make it work in any useful and effective way are just not in place. This will mean that the hoped for control of hospital budgets and costs will probably not be delivered.

All in all is has been, to me, a year of suppression of the truth and ongoing lack of leadership and governance in the public e-health space. The private system and service providers, starved of funds etc., have still managed to do a range of good things - in the hope it will all come together in the end. For them I hope it does.

Happy festive season. There will be some news tomorrow and that will be pretty much it for the year - major breaking news excepted.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 15th December, 2012.

Note: Each link is followed by a title and 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.

Most Docs Won't Qualify for EHR 'Meaningful Use'

By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: December 07, 2012
Two-thirds of office-based physicians plan to apply or have already applied for meaningful use incentives for using electronic health records (EHRs), a government survey found.
However, only about a quarter have computer systems that support Stage 1 meaningful use objectives -- a prerequisite for receiving the incentives. Physicians must meet all 15 of the Stage 1 core objectives to qualify for meaningful use incentives as of 2012, along with a few other requirements.

Q&A: It's crucial for organizations to value their data, says Larry Ponemon

By Tom Sullivan, Editor, Government Health IT
Created 12/07/2012
Three out of five healthcare organizations are not allocating enough resources to protect patient data – and among the reasons is a simple fact that the industry has no way to place a value on that information.
That’s according to Rick Kam, president and co-founder of ID Experts, which sponsored the Ponemon Institute’s third annual benchmark "Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security," published on Dec.6. 

Comments Sought on Privacy/Security of Stage 3-Certified EHRs

DEC 6, 2012 4:10pm ET
The HIT Standards Committee is seeking public comment on Stage 3 privacy and security criteria that should be required of certified electronic health records in 2016.
The standards committee and its partner HIT Policy Committee advise federal officials on health information technology initiatives. The stakeholder-populated committees have substantial influence over development of meaningful use criteria.

U. of Texas launches unique health info exchange lab

Posted: December 6, 2012 - 1:45 pm ET
University of Texas at Austin officials are touting their first-in-the-country learning laboratory for health information exchange, the newest addition to the school's nine-week health IT certification program.
The health information exchange laboratory, launching this week, gives students hands-on training with information exchange software and allows them to watch real-time transfers of patient records in a simulated environment, Leanne Field, the university's director of public health, medical laboratory science and information technology programs, said in an interview.

4 top trends that will shape digital health

November 29, 2012 11:31 AM ES
This was a big year for digital health transformation, especially for advances in personalized and connected care. Looking back at 2012, these are the four trends that I think will ultimately have the greatest impact on the future.
Proliferation of personalized mobile health technologies.
Many will remember 2012 as the year when mobile health apps and sensors took off. In 2012, the FDA approved the first iPhone-enabled blood glucose meter for sale at retail stores in the United States. Another 2012 FDA approved mobile technology is a sensor that sits atop inhalers for people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Every time the inhaler is used, the sensor transmits data to a companion app on the user’s mobile phone that tracks information like the location of each medication discharge. This environmental data can be used to help patients and care providers better understand what triggers a patient’s asthma.
Friday, December 07, 2012

Caregivers Turn to Internet for Health Care Information, Support

by Lisa Zamosky, iHealthBeat Contributing Reporter
The United States is becoming a nation of caregivers. Roughly 42 million people -- 30% of the U.S. adult population -- provide care to a spouse, parent or child.
Caregivers often are placed in the stressful position of having to make major health care decisions on behalf of a loved one or manage an aspect of care that requires knowledge that most people simply don't have.
So it's perhaps little surprise that a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project report found that family caregivers go online in search of health information at rates that far exceed other groups.

Doc use of EHRs up 24 percent

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor
Created 12/06/2012
A new report issued by the National Center on Health Statistics (NCHS) found that in 2012, 72 percent of office-based physicians used electronic health records, up from 48 percent in 2009. That represents an increase of 24 percent.
EHR use ranged from 54 percent in New Jersey to 89 percent in Massachusetts, the NCHS study found.
Compared with the national average (72 percent), the percentage of physicians using any EHR system was lowest in Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey, according to the report, and higher in Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

Data breaches cost healthcare entities $7 billion annually

December 6, 2012 | By Dan Bowman
A pair of reports published this week by the Ponemon Institute and the Health Information Trust Alliance reveal that the healthcare industry continues to play catch up in when it comes to curbing data breaches.
Ponemon's third annual study on patient privacy and data security determined that a whopping 94 percent of the 80 participating healthcare organizations experienced at least one data breach that they were aware of in the past two years; 45 percent of those organizations said they experienced more than five incidents during that time. According to the report, such breaches cost organizations a total of $6.78 billion annually.

Patient Data Breaches: Future Looks Grim

Inadequate security funding, tools and expertise could cost healthcare industry billions of dollars annually, finds Ponemon/ID Expert's third annual study.
A majority of organizations polled for Ponemon and ID Expert's third annual benchmark study on privacy and security don't have the technologies, resources and trained personnel in place to take on modern-day privacy and data security risks.
Since beginning the benchmarking in 2010, Ponemon and ID Experts have found that threats to healthcare organizations have increased. The organizational costs for dealing with breaches are climbing as well, with the average price tag increasing from $2.1 million in 2010 to $2.4 million in 2012. The report projects that eventually the annual cost of continuous breaches for the industry "could potentially be as high as $7 billion." AdTech Ad

IHE, ICSA labs team for interoperability

By Bernie Monegain, Editor
Created 12/05/2012
IHE USA, a nonprofit organization that drives adoption of standards-based interoperability to improve patient care, and ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon, today unveiled a new certification program aimed at assuring the security and interoperability of health information technology.
The program will provide industry-accepted certification to complement existing conformance testing to IHE integration profiles to ensure that different software and systems can securely connect. 

Report: Healthcare Analytics Market to See Double-Digit Growth

December 4, 2012
A new report from the Rockville, Md.-based research and consulting firm, MarketsandMarkets indicates that the healthcare analytics market is set for double-digit growth over the coming years thanks to the emergence of big data and the advance of analytical technologies. The report, "Healthcare Analytics/Medical Analytics Market - Trends & Global Forecasts to 2017, says that by 2017 the healthcare analytics industry will be worth $10.8 billion.

Big Data, EHR Driving Healthcare IT Innovation

– Brian Eastwood, CIO
December 05, 2012 
Healthcare IT adoption in the United States today is largely defined by requirements to demonstrate the meaningful use of electronic heath record software by 2014.
Gartner says that EHR adoption is a "trigger" for data analytics, improved care management and other innovations. However, these initiatives will take time, the analyst firm notes in a recent report, "Hype Cycle for Healthcare Provider Applications and Systems."

Big Data Benefits Depend on EHR Systems Evolution

This type of innovation is not necessarily unique to the healthcare industry, says Vi Shaffer, a Gartner analyst and the hype cycle report's primary author. Retailers, for example, are also placing an increased emphasis on customer engagement and data processing technology. The difference, she says, is both the complexity of the data—think of an intensive care unit (ICU), where information about patient vital signs, drug dosages and even room temperature is constantly updated and sent to the computer at the nurses' station—and the fact that, until recently, all this information was only on paper.

CMS, ONC propose tweaks to EHR regs

Posted: December 5, 2012 - 2:45 pm ET
A proposed federal rule nips and tucks previously issued regulations governing the testing, certification and use of electronic health-record systems.
The proposed rule, issued jointly by the CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, tweaks several of the meaningful-use criteria that healthcare providers must meet to qualify for payment under the federal EHR incentive program.
For example, it adds an alternative meaningful-use criterion for the electronic transmission of structured lab results from hospitals to ambulatory-care providers who ordered the lab test.

Next ten Lorenzo adopters each get £1m

3 December 2012   Jon Hoeksma
The next ten NHS trusts that commit to take Lorenzo from CSC under the firm’s new National Programme for IT in the NHS deal will each get a signing-on bonus of £1m for implementation expenses.
The £1m would be in addition to up to £4m that eHealth Insider understands each trust that takes Lorenzo can call on for deployment and training costs under the new interim agreement between the Department of Health and CSC. This would mean that ten trusts could claim up to £5m each.
CSC believes the new incentive programme, open to trusts in the North Midlands and East of England, will be fully subscribed and result in some trusts axing current procurements to take advantage of the offer.
  • December 3, 2012, 10:14 PM ET

UMass Memorial Tests Software to Curb Hospital Readmissions

Clint Boulton - Reporter
Stung by a multimillion-dollar penalty for failing to meet new patient readmissions standards set by Medicare, UMass Memorial Health Care is using transaction analytics software to reduce frequent and costly readmissions for patients with heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. UMass Memorial CIO George Brenckle, who declined to say how much the hospital was penalized, said the software will help stave off future non-compliance penalties. The software tracks people who are admitted to UMass Memorial’s five community hospitals and prompts care givers to follow-up with those patients, decreasing the chances that they will be readmitted.

Electronic Health Records Breed Digital Discontent For Some Docs

By Eric Whitney, Colorado Public Radio
Dec 04, 2012
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes Colorado Public Radio,  and Kaiser Health News.
Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge. One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape this summer 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.
Dr. Mary Wilkerson is one of those doctors. Her small family practice in Denver made the leap to an electronic health record five years ago, with some pretty high expectations.
"We were told by sales people that we would make more money, because we'd be more efficient, and you'd be able to see more patients," says Wilkerson. "We'd be able to bill faster, get the money in the bank at the push of a button. And none of that panned out."

mHealth industry 'in learning mode' for privacy and security

By Mike Miliard, Contributing Editor
It's no wonder that physicians and clinicians have taken to mobile devices in a big way. The convenience of having near-limitless knowledge, from medical journals to patient records, at one's fingertips is unprecedented. Docs love their smartphones.
But for CIOs and chief privacy officers, the relationship is more complicated. As mobile devices become ever more ubiquitous in hospitals and other clinical settings, the threat they pose to sensitive patient information grows.
Privacy and security is hard enough when dealing with stationary client-server EHRs. Try keeping tabs on dozens, or hundreds, of Droids and iPads, each one just waiting to be left in the back seat of a taxi or get hacked.

Mobile apps changing healthcare

By Jeff Rowe, Editor, EHRWatch
Created 12/04/2012
New mHealth technology is continuing to spread across the healthcare sector, and it’s going to change dramatically the way healthcare services are delivered in the future.
That was the core takeaway from a session at the 2012 mHealth Summit Monday that unpacked the findings of the HIMSS 2012 Mobile Technology Survey. Co-sponsored by HIMSS and Qualcomm Life, the survey collected responses from 180 C-Suite level healthcare executives through October and November.
According to Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics, and Anthony Shimkin, senior director of marketing for Qualcomm Life, the survey’s primary goals were to gauge how mHealth technology use has changed since a similar study was conducted in 2011, as well as how federal regulations have impacted the development of mobile health policies at healthcare organizations.

Brain wellness technology market set to top $1B by end of 2012

By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
Created 12/04/2012
The market for brain health technology will surpass $1 billion by the end of 2012, and is set to grow at a brisk thereafter, to between $4 and $10 billion by 2020, according to SharpBrains, a San Francisco-based market research firm.
The industry report, "The State of the Digital Brain Health Market 2012-2020 – Transforming Health with Digital Tools to Assess, Monitor and Enhance Cognition across the Lifespan," offers insights into the digital revolution transforming brain health and heath overall, officials say.
Such software includes computerized Web-based and mobile cognitive assessments, cognitive training and cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as biometrics-based monitoring and brain training tools that measure physiological responses such as heart rate variability and electroencephalography.  

Mobile technology use by docs on the rise

December 4, 2012 | By Julie Bird
Clinicians are rapidly adopting mobile health technology into patient care, according to a new survey unveiled this week at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C., by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. 
Among findings of the 2nd Annual HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, clinicians using mobile technology to collect data at the bedside rose to 45 percent, up from 30 percent last year. Additionally, clinicians using mobile technology to monitor medical-device data increased to 34 percent from 27 percent. Those using bar code readers on mobile devices rose to 38 percent from 23 percent.

ONC committees discuss verification of patient identification

December 4, 2012 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
The healthcare industry is beginning to tackle just how patients should access the information in their electronic health records, with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's federal advisory committees holding a hearing last week to garner suggestions from stakeholders in the industry regarding how to verify a patient's identity before allowing that access.
The hearing, "Trusted Identity of Patients in Cyberspace" held jointly by the HIT Policy Committee Privacy and Security Tiger Team and the HIT Standards Committee Privacy and Security Workgroup Nov. 29, sought to address the need for patient authentication, such as misuse and fraud, as well as the usability of patient authentication methods, such as passwords and biometrics.

Patient ID proofing for EHR access must be easy, HIT policy committees say

By Mary Mosquera
Some healthcare organizations are already verifying the identity of patients and other authorized users to access their information, even though privacy and security experts are still wrestling with which methods may be the most effective and easy to use so they will be widely adopted.
For example, the Veterans Affairs Department uses the Defense Department service member enrollment system to conduct identity verification for the MyHealtheVet portal, the VA’s personal health record system. When a veteran logs on to MyHealtheVet, it automatically links to the DOD system, according to Elizabeth Franchi, director of the Veterans Health Administration data quality program.
“Patients have to be able to do that identity proofing remotely and easily. We defer that to the Defense system because veterans have had a prior relationship with DOD and are known by the system that is going to authenticate them and provide that level of credential assurance,” she said at a Nov. 29 hearing hosted by the privacy and security panels of the federal advisory Health IT Policy and Standards Committees.

mHealth Trials Are Happening, Without the Clinic

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , December 4, 2012

HIMSS' mHealth Summit began yesterday in Washington, D.C., and runs through tomorrow. Because it's in the capital, government policymakers are likely to be dazzled by slick vendor presentations and lofty statements about what mobile health technology can do now and will be doing soon.
Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, healthcare providers ponder all the promise and peril of putting sensitive patient information on an ever-proliferating array of gadgets, the vast majority of which merely have garden-variety security, authorization, and authentication controls. After the petabytes of data breached by lost or stolen laptops is subtracted, the good news is that so far, mHealth doesn't seem to account for very many scary stories of health data exposure. But that could change.
Looking over the mHealth Summit agenda, I was struck by the fact that the elephant in the room—government regulation—has no session devoted to it.

For Second Opinion, Consult a Computer?

SAN FRANCISCO — The man on stage had his audience of 600 mesmerized. Over the course of 45 minutes, the tension grew. Finally, the moment of truth arrived, and the room was silent with anticipation.
At last he spoke. “Lymphoma with secondary hemophagocytic syndrome,” he said. The crowd erupted in applause.
Professionals in every field revere their superstars, and in medicine the best diagnosticians are held in particularly high esteem. Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, 39, a self-effacing associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is considered one of the most skillful clinical diagnosticians in practice today.
The case Dr. Dhaliwal was presented, at a medical  conference last year, began with information that could have described hundreds of diseases: the patient had intermittent fevers, joint pain, and weight and appetite loss.

Vision-Restoring Implants that Fit Inside the Eye

A coming generation of devices promise clear, high-quality vision for the blind.

Why It Matters

Sophisticated retinal implants point to a future in which more of the human body can be repaired with technology.
A coming generation of retinal implants that fit entirely inside the eye will use nanoscale electronic components to dramatically improve vision quality for the wearer, according to two research teams developing such devices.
Current retinal prostheses, such as Second Sight’s Argus II, restore only limited and fuzzy vision to individuals blinded by degenerative eye disease. Wearers can typically distinguish light from dark and make out shapes and outlines of objects, but not much more.
The Argus II, the first “bionic eye” to reach commercial markets, contains an array of 60 electrodes, akin to 60 pixels, that are implanted behind the retina to stimulate the remaining healthy cells. The implant is connected to a camera, worn on the side of the head, that relays a video feed.

Nurses using smartphones to fill IT gaps

By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
Created 12/03/2012
More than two-thirds of hospitals surveyed for a new study reported that their nurses use their personal smartphones while on the job for personal and clinical communications. Still, IT support for those devices is lacking.
The report, from Spyglass Consulting Group, showed 69 percent of hospitals indicating that their nurses use their personal mobile devices. They're often used to fill in communication gaps with the technology provided by hospital IT departments – which some nurses find difficult to use and complain has limited functionality, researchers found.
"Hospital IT is concerned that personal devices on the hospital’s network pose a significant security threat to patient health information stored on the device or the network," said Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group. "Supporting nursing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ initiatives would require hospital IT to define comprehensive mobile governance strategies and to deploy enterprise-class tools to centrally monitor, manage and protect mobile devices, apps and data."

Most providers now using patient portals

By Erin McCann, Associate Editor
Created 12/03/2012
More than half of all healthcare providers in the U.S. are now using patient portal technology, according to a new report conducted by KLAS.
After interviewing providers from health systems, hospitals and clinics, authors of "Patient Portals: the Path of Least Resistance" found that 57 percent of providers are currently using a patient portal solution.
Officials say the numbers come in the wake of the anticipation surrounding Stage 2 meaningful use requirements released August 2012.

Docs less enamored with portal diabetes management than patients

December 3, 2012 | By Susan D. Hall
Physicians viewed diabetes management through use of a patient portal less favorably than patients in a Canadian study published last week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
The research involved open-ended interviews with 17 diabetes patients and with 64 healthcare providers, including general practitioners, nurses, dietitians, diabetes educators and others. 
Overall, the patients said the portal improved their knowledge of their disease and helped them better manage it. However, patients used the portal primarily to log blood-sugar readings and rarely accessed other features, such as the health library.

Voters want to cut federal investment in health IT

November 30, 2012 | By Julie Bird
More than four out of 10 voters said the government should reduce its investment in health IT to help rein in healthcare costs, according to a post-election survey conducted by PwC's Health Research Institute.
The results suggest government and the health IT industry should join forces to educate the public about the long-term benefits of health IT, PwC says, including the anticipated return on the $28 billion taxpayer investment driving healthcare's technology revolution.
Reducing federal investment in health IT ranked second among priorities for cutting healthcare costs among the 1,202 voters surveyed. While 50 percent say reducing payments to hospital and doctors should be one of two top priorities, 42 percent cite reducing health IT investment as one of their top priorities.

Recruiting HIT Workers is Tough

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media , December 3, 2012

With healthcare information technology deadlines looming, providers are eager to quickly find and hire qualified workers. But numerous forces present challenges to rapid IT staffing. Among them: Healthcare is competing not only within its own industry, but across the economy, for IT workers that are already in short supply.
According to the 2012 College of Healthcare Information Management Executives survey, chief information officers are seeing an 8% increase in the shortage for health IT staff over the last two years. This year, 67% of respondents reported a shortage versus 59% two years ago.
This is good news for IT workers, who can be choosy about where to sign on, but for healthcare CIOs, recruiting and retaining IT staff presents challenges.
Monday, December 03, 2012

25-Bed Henry County Health Center Shows Meaningful Use Achievable for Small Facilities

by Fred Bazzoli
Many critical access and small rural hospitals are worried about the carrot-and-stick approach that undergirds the federal program to encourage implementation of electronic health records. The incentive program offers additional payments for providers that demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs, but it eventually penalizes providers that lag behind.
That's a concern because there's growing evidence that most of the nation's smaller facilities are falling behind in installing EHR systems and meeting meaningful use requirements. In late September, officials from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT outlined a challenge to get 1,000 critical access and small rural hospitals to meaningfully use certified EHR technology by the end of 2014. ONC promised to work with nearly 1,500 small and critical access hospitals, committing additional funds to Regional Extension Centers to help facilities achieve meaningful use.

A Gadget that Makes You the Doctor

Scanadu hopes its tricorder-like device and a smartphone will help people track their health and diagnose problems.

Why It Matters

A device that can accurately track vital signs would make it easier to detect and treat illnesses and make doctor visits less necessary.
Point and scan: A non-working model of Scanadu’s Scout, expected to go on sale by the end of next year for about $150, can scan for a number of vital signs, including temperature and heart rate.
For most of us, checking our health or diagnosing an illness means a trip to the doctor’s office. For Walter De Brouwer, it involves holding a little square up to his temple or spitting onto the edge of a blue plastic square, snapping a photo with his iPhone, and then reading his diagnosis on the small, glowing screen.