Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 28th January, 2013.

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

The countdown has begun and it looks like less than ½ of the practices who are receiving ePIP payments up until Feb 1, will not be ready by that date for the new regime. Not that, of course, we will have any statistics on all this for a year or two. That will result in some grumpy and frustrated GPs to say the least.
Otherwise it is interesting to see how ‘apps’ are now part of the routine health environment. This change seems to have happened over the last few years and is only apparently accelerating. You can gauge the importance of all this by fact we now have legislation being drafted in the US to regulate them! 

PCEHR chaos - have your say on just4docs

21 Jan 2013
The PCEHR scheme is in chaos with thousands of practices due to miss out on PIP payments. The issue has generated heated debate on Australian Doctor’s new secure online network for doctors.

GP practices invited to ‘seed’ PCEHR

24 January, 2013 Sam Lee
GP practices are now being invited to become ‘seed organisations’ for the PCEHR system, with the release of new guidance on how to sign up and participation agreements tailored for different practice structures.
A new registration guide, released by the Department of Health and Ageing, suggests that most independent GP practices will be suited to sign up to the PCEHR program as a single ‘seed organisation’.  The more complex category of network organisation will be more suited to such as pathology departments within major hospitals.
However, the guidance warns that patients with ‘seed organisations’
may not be able to use access flags to restrict access to other providers within the same organisation.
The guide says GP practices will have to nominate a “Responsible Officer” such as the practice manager, and at least one IT-savvy “Organisation Maintenance Officer’ who will deal with the day-to-day operations of the eHealth record system.

Internet poses risk to GP reputations

24 January, 2013 Kate Cowling
Online forums and search engine autocompletes have the potential to “irreversibly sully” the reputation of Australian doctors, the AMA’s president says.
And any potential solution is not clear-cut, he said, with costly legal pursuits unlikely to “overturn untruths”.
His comment came after it was revealed a Port Macquarie doctor was suing Google for defamation after auto-correct correlated his name with “bankrupt”.

Jane McCredie: Keeping family secrets

THE sequencing of the human genome promises unparalleled opportunities to fight disease, identifying the genetic variants that predispose us to various illnesses or protect us from them.
In support of that noble endeavour, thousands of people around the world have donated their de-identified genetic information to free, publicly accessible databases such as those held by the 1000 Genomes Project.
Such projects are an invaluable resource for researchers but, in an age when so much information is available online about all of us, can the donors be assured their genetic information will remain private?
The answer, according to researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in the US, is definitely not.

Second opinion

Katie Hafner
The man on stage had his audience of 600 mesmerised. For 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. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, 39, a self-effacing associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is considered one of the most skilful clinical diagnosticians in practice.

App may solve photo legal risks

A NEW smartphone app aimed at making clinical photography legally safe for doctors, patients and practices is just weeks away from release, according to the surgeon involved in its development.
Dr David Hunter-Smith, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with Peninsula Health in Victoria, said the app would address the legal and security issues inherent in the booming use of smartphones in clinical situations.
News of the app coincides with an article published in this week’s MJA warning clinicians of their legal obligations regarding consent and privacy with clinical photography. (1)

Doctors cautioned on taking patient pics

21st Jan 2013
DOCTORS have been advised to be vigilant about their legal and ethical responsibilities to patient privacy and consent when taking digital images of physical conditions on smartphones or other devices.
Authors of an article in the recent MJA have warned that with the increase of the practice by clinicians, and the resulting possibilities for these visual records to be used for patient management, medical education or research, doctors should be fully aware of their legal obligations.
Lead author Dr Patrick Mahar, of Melbourne’s Skin & Cancer Foundation, wrote that indemnity providers in both Australia and the UK had identified the “use or misuse of clinical photographs as an emerging medico-legal risk for the medical profession”.

UNSW project spotlights text mining, language analysis

New Text Mining Collaboration project at the University of NSW aims to increase awareness of textual analytics tools
An interdisciplinary group of researchers at the University of NSW is seeking to promote a higher profile for text mining and automatic language analysis among academics.
The group has launched a UNSW-funded project, which went public late last year, that seeks to make it easier to use text mining tools for research and help prevent researchers from reinventing the wheel when it comes to extracting information from unstructured data.
The Web-based Text Mining Collaboration portal, which operates under the auspices of UNSW's Kirby Institute, offers access to online tools as well as bringing together related resources such as case studies and tutorials in an effort to make the technology easily available to the university's community of researchers.
"It's a mixture of our UNSW research outputs as well as commonly used text mining frameworks from around the world," says project lead Dr Stephen Anthony, Research Fellow at the Faculty of Medicine.

Calvary takes the ehealth plunge

Published on Tue, 22/01/2013, 11:04:10
Little Company of Mary Health Care - officially Calvary Care - is seeking IT partners for its first three tiered ehealth initiative project in the Hunter region of NSW, just north of Sydney, according to a report in the Australian newspaper’s IT section today.
The article says the organisation, with a turnover in excess of $1 billion, is in discussions with both multi-national and local IT companies with a view to rolling out “a range of cutting edge tele-health services across its nationwide network.”
According to the article by Damon Kitney, Little Company of Mary CEO, Mark Doran said hospital groups would need to establish three-tier systems (home care, hospital care and aged care) to address the country's increasing ageing population, make available more hospital beds and tackle the growing public hospital waiting-list problems.

Twitter more informative for health info than search engines

The research included analysis of more than 4700 tweets from 114 government health-related organisations.
University research has found that social networks like Twitter have a more powerful role in disseminating public health information than search engines.
The research was carried out by Professor Robert Steele and PhD candidate Dan Dumbrell at the University of Sydney.
“Using new communications technologies to allow people to directly receive relevant and up-to-the-minute public health information could benefit the health of millions and change the paradigm of public health information dissemination,” Steele, head of discipline and chair of health informatics at the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences, said in a statement.

Practice 2000 Health Identifiers has been granted access in Production to the HI Service

January 9, 2013
We are pleased to inform that Practice 2000 has been certified by Medicare Australia to a Production access to HI Service. Currently, Practice 2000 has been listed on the PIP eHealth Register of Conformity. For more information, please refer to
A new version of Practice 2000 that is compatible with eHealth is available to download via

Twitch in time saves nine as speech solution expands Stephen Hawking'a universe

  • From: The Times
  • January 23, 2013 12:00AM
STEPHEN Hawking is to take a quantum leap in the world of communication thanks to new technology that will allow him to write faster.
For the past decade, the 71-year-old physicist has composed sentences one letter and word at a time by using a twitch of his cheek muscle to stop a cursor moving across text on a screen. His sentences are then read out by a speech device, producing his distinctive robotic voice.
But the degenerative motor neuron disease from which he suffers has made it harder to control the twitch, and one of science's quickest minds had been reduced to typing only one word a minute.

DNA used as data storage device

24th Jan 2013
A GENETIC storage device has been used to ‘download’ all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets onto strands of synthetic DNA.
British scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.
The same technique made it possible to store a 26-second excerpt from Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.

PIP eHealth Incentive registration support available

18 January 2013.  The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) eHealth Incentive aims to encourage General Practices to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in eHealth to assist in improving administration processes and enhancing the quality of patient care by, for example, supporting the capacity to share accurate electronic patient records.  From 1 February 2013, the PIP eHealth Incentive eligibility requirements change. 

Organisations Offering Registration Workshops

Organisations providing workshop registration support to support General Practices registering for ePIP can use these materials to plan and deliver registration workshops.
The workshop has been designed specifically for General Practices registering for ePIP, however the forms and guides can be used by other providers to support them in registering for their NASH PKI certificates and the personally controlled electronic eHealth record (PCEHR).

Health apps win NSW awards

  • From: AAP
  • January 23, 2013 3:53PM
SMARTPHONE and tablet apps are set to take over outdated magazines in doctors' waiting rooms as health providers update the way they manage data.
Four developers have won the NSW government's apps4nsw competition, which this year focused on e-solutions for health.
"I love apps. I use apps to do everything," NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said at an awards ceremony at NSW parliament.
"These ideas have the potential to help the people of NSW make better choices about their health."

Australian internet speeds fall to 40th place globally

Date January 25, 2013 - 12:27PM
Australian internet speeds have fallen again compared to the rest of the world, says a new survey.
Average Australian connection speeds fell 2.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 as the country sank to 40th in the world, according to Akamai Technologies' third quarter "State of the internet" report.
Australia dropped from 39th position globally in the second quarter of 2012, being beaten by five countries in the region. Australia came out on top of New Zealand, however, which ended up in 46th place.

Google working on password alternatives

Date January 21, 2013

Samantha Murphy

The topic of passwords has made headlines in the past year — from high-profile hacks to web users repeatedly not picking the right ones — but Google has its sights set on making the login-process much more secure in the future.
How secure, you may ask? Consider logging into Gmail with a high-tech ring worn on your finger or a key card that plugs into your computer's USB port.
As detailed in a research paper in IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine and reported on by Wired, Google is already looking into password alternatives in the form of passdevices. The initiatives have also been confirmed by Mashable.

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