Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 25th February, 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

Quite an interesting week. Cyber security seems to be managing to lift its awareness which can only be a good thing.
The second article reporting on the lack of Government transparency will seem rather apt and relevant to the e-health space I suspect.
For the rest we have the MJA covering information use in the health sector and, we are still seeing reporting on the patent issue - with some interesting reporting on who is doing what with whom.
Until next week.

Hackers threaten pharmacy IT

18 February, 2013 Nick O'Donoghue  
Pharmacy owners are being urged to increase their IT security in the face of a new threat from foreign computer hackers.
Speaking to Pharmacy News, Paul Naismith, CEO of Fred IT, expressed concern about the potential for hackers to hold pharmacies ransom, following reports that a number of Australian health professionals’ IT infrastructure had been attacked recently.
Mr Naismith said the problem would be the number one IT security trend to watch out for in 2013.
“It’s an ongoing thing that pharmacists need to be reminded of,” he said.

Openness policy stymied from the top

Date February 23, 2013

Marc Moncrief

A THREE-YEAR-OLD policy to revolutionise transparency in government is struggling from a lack of leadership at the highest levels, the federal information commissioner has warned.
A review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner calls for political leaders to force cultural change in the public service or risk being left behind by peer countries with more open governments.
It says the government should require, rather than just suggest, that so-called ''high value'' information be published openly on the central website created for the purpose more than two years ago,

Frustration mounts on e-health

18th Feb 2013
THE national clinical lead advising on the e-health program has revealed frustration at not being able to access the system that he helped introduce.
The admission comes as two senior academics take aim at what they call a “lack of compulsory basic standards for e-health records in general practice”.
National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) national clinical lead and GP, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, who is also the chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) Council, told Fairfax newspapers at the weekend that he was one of the few doctors linked into the complete e-health service and went live with it at his Melbourne practice in mid-December to test the system.

E-health tour goes on the road

19th Feb 2013
AUSTRALIA'S chief clinical adviser on e-health has been touring the country to discuss the beleaguered electronic medical records program with GPs, with a message for those who have had problems using the system.
National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) national clinical lead and GP Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, who is also the chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) Council, told MO he had already been to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth and would be in Sydney tomorrow as part of the tour in collaboration with various AMA state entities.
“I have been talking about the e-health system and how people can participate in e-health,” he said.

E-health patents tangle NEHTA in global patent litigator web

Australia’s National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is the latest health authority to be approached by medical patent holder MMRGlobal, which claims that the government’s PCEHR system has breached its Australian patent.
In a press release issued last week, MMRGlobal announced it would investigate the potential breach, and also stated it had begun legal action against US online pharmacy Walgreens for patent violation. 
NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming told the Senate Estimates committee last week that the company had not contacted NEHTA.
However the former CEO of MMRGlobal’s Australian subsidiary, Probir Dutt, claims to have had a number of meetings with NEHTA staff before Mr Fleming joined the organisation.

NEHTA contacts US firm over patent breach allegations

THE National E-Health Transition Authority has reached out to the US e-health software firm investigating it over patent infringement allegations.
According to MMRGlobal chief executive Robert Lorsch, lawyers from NEHTA had contacted the firm to discuss the matter.
"The company has spoken with an attorney for NEHTA," Mr Lorsch told The Australian.
"MMR suggested entering into an agreement to exchange documents to facilitate an informal resolution to this matter for the benefit of all parties. 

Twist in e-health patent claim

MELBOURNE law firm Davies Collison Cave has dropped MMRGlobal as a client just days after the latter said it was investigating alleged patent infringements by the National E-Health Transition Authority.
Robert Lorsch, the Los Angeles-based MMRGlobal chief executive, claims Davies Collison Cave told him that his company would have to be dropped from the client roster due to a "conflict".
"We used Davies Collison Cove (for patents) and one of the reasons that they're not involved right now is they have a conflict because they're also representing the government," Mr Lorsch told The Australian.

Robotic prostate surgery cuts readmissions

20 February, 2013 Antonio Bradley
Controversy looks set to continue over funding for high-tech robotic prostatectomies, despite a study claiming they drastically reduce readmission rates and reduce costs in the long-term.
The research, comparing 100 robotic prostatectomies performed at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital against 100 conventional open procedures, found robotic surgery slashed total readmission costs by 90% — from $70,000 to just $7000.
Patients also had much shorter hospital stays, averaging only 1.2 days, compared with 4.4 days with conventional surgery, researchers wrote in the ANZ Journal of Surgery (online).

Toys for the boys?

16 June, 2011 Paul Smith
I’M standing in the corner of a room that has all the trappings of a state-of-the-art operating theatre.
There’s a huge, flat-screen TV high on the wall, halogen lighting systems, and an operating table stuffed with numerous hydraulic gadgets. And a couple of metres away, its four large arms raised like a spider about to envelop its prey, is a robot.
In front of me, next to a bank of computers and machines that go ‘ping’, is a grey console — the control system for the robot.

RACGP urged to update privacy rules

18 February, 2013 Paul Smith
The RACGP is facing calls to review its privacy standards after a 14-year-old said she was cyber-stalked by a man who overheard her name being called out in a GP waiting room.
The My Family Doctors practice in Townsville said a 31-year-old man befriended the teenager on the social networking site late last year.
The girl's mother alerted the surgery and was told to report the incident to the police.
The man, when contacted by the practice, said he had mistaken the girl's age and assumed she was over 16.
In the wake of the incident, the practice introduced a ticketing system to alert patients when to see their GP.

Obstacles on the information highway

Ruth Armstrong and Ann Gregory
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (3): 123.
doi: 10.5694/mja13.c0218
The concept of monitoring and reporting on safety and quality in health care is not new. As Diane Watson, CEO of Australia’s National Health Performance Authority reminds us in this issue of the Journal (doi: 10.5694/mja13.10097), as early as 1860, Florence Nightingale called for the uniform collection of hospital statistics, so that outcomes could be compared “by hospital, region, and country” (Evid Based Nurs 2001; 4: 68-69).
In 2013, we are more able than ever to collect, interpret, share and act on such information, yet significant obstacles, some of which are explored by contributors to this issue of the Journal, remain.

Ruth Armstrong & Ann Gregory: E-health obstacles

THE concept of monitoring and reporting on safety and quality in health care is not new.
As Diane Watson, CEO of Australia’s National Health Performance Authority reminds us in the latest issue of the MJA ADD LINK, as early as 1860, Florence Nightingale called for the uniform collection of hospital statistics, so that outcomes could be compared “by hospital, region, and country”.
In 2013, we are more able than ever to collect, interpret, share and act on such information, yet significant obstacles, some of which are explored by contributors to this issue of the MJA, remain.
Clinical registries of patient treatment and outcomes provide vital information to improve care, but they will only be credible if they are as complete as possible.

Lack of e-health standards “unacceptable”

THE absence of compulsory basic standards for electronic health records in general practice is an “unacceptable” situation and its resolution is very much overdue, according to two experts involved in collecting GP data.
In an editorial in this week’s MJA, two senior members of the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program, which collects information about clinical activities in general practice, have called for the urgent development of “nationally agreed standards for the electronic health record (EHR)”. (1)
“We now have a variety of EHR systems with inconsistent structures, data elements and terminologies”, Associate Professor Helena Britt and Associate Professor Graeme Miller, director and medical director of the Family Medicine Research Centre, wrote.

Numbers for eHealth lagging

Date February 17, 2013

Tim Barlass

THE federal government's controversial eHealth system to get the nation's medical records available online has had a dismal uptake from the public and the medical profession.
The scheme has been compared to the government's bungled roof insulation system by the Coalition's eHealth spokesman, Andrew Southcott, who called it ''Pink Batts on steroids''.
The eHealth scheme was launched with fanfare in July, with an advertising truck touring Australia to encourage 500,000 people to register in the first year. The Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, declared: ''We estimate eHealth will save the federal government around $11 billion over 15 years. That's pretty good bang for your buck.''

Financial, health data dumped in Sydney rubbish bins

Survey of bins in the CBD found 11 per cent contained bank account details and legal documents.
Documents showing a customer's cardholder account details and address were found in a rubbish bin used by a bank branch in Sydney.
Some Sydney bank branches, lawyers' and doctors' offices have been found guilty of not properly disposing of personal information in rubbish bins which could be used by criminals for the purposes of fraud or identity theft following a private investigation.

Push for funding to be doubled

19th Feb 2013
THE Australian Medicare Local Alliance has asked for an almost doubling in Commonwealth funding for Medicare Locals, calling for an extra $610 million to fund two ambitious new programs — targeting chronic disease and early childhood.
The first federal budget submission from the AML Alliance — since its establishment last year — asks for $130 million per year over four years for a chronic disease prevention and management program plus another $92 million over three years for an early childhood development program.
The proposed additional $160 million per year, described by alliance chair Dr Arn Sprogis as “tiny” compared to the overall health budget, would be on top of the $171 million originally allocated to the 61 primary healthcare organisations when they were created from general practice divisions.

Bionic hand that gives back patients their sense of touch

Date February 18, 2013 - 11:47AM

Nick Collins

The bionic hand that will let those who can't sense touch 'feel' again.
A bionic hand that allows patients to feel sensations as well as control its movements with their mind is to be fitted to an amputee's arm for the first time.
The prosthetic uses electrodes to relay messages to and from the brain via nerves in the arm, meaning the patient can direct it with their thoughts.
It transmits sensory feedback from all five fingers as well as the palm and the wrist, meaning it feels lifelike and allows the patient to grasp objects accurately.

Scientists sense breakthroughs in dark-matter mystery

Date February 19, 2013

Jean-Louis Santini

For decades, the strange substance called dark matter has teased physicists, challenging conventional notions of the cosmos.
Dark matter holds together our galaxy and the rest of the universe. 
Michael Turner, University of Chicago
Today, though, scientists believe that with the help of multi-billion-dollar tools, they are closer than ever to piercing the mystery – and the first clues may be unveiled just weeks from now.

US 'explorers' to don Google internet glasses

Date February 21, 2013
Google on Wednesday invited "explorers" with creative vision and $US1500 to spare to be part of a select group of people who get to experiment with glasses synced to the internet.
A video intended to capture what it feels like to use Google Glass was posted online along with information about what the eyewear does and how to be among those putting them to the test.
"We're looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass," said a message at the website.


Anonymous said...

THE national clinical lead advising on the e-health program has revealed frustration at not being able to access the system that he helped introduce.

He took the money and got well paid. His naivety about ehealth knew no bounds.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he will give the money back for services not rendered. Maybe if they had paid him more he wouldn't have been able to have brought the organisation into disrepute.

Anonymous said...

CEO MMRGlobal interview with Histalk talks PCEHR infringment: "We currently have four matters that are of interest. Approximately two or three weeks ago, we filed a lawsuit against Walgreens. Last week, we filed a lawsuit against WebMD. We currently have identified in Australia that the Australian government actually built a $1.1 billion personal health record system that blatantly, we believe – and I would appreciate it if you would always qualify it with “we believe” – infringes on our patents almost totally. The irony of the whole thing is that the government actually appears – and I want to say “appears” – to have used our attorneys who got us the patents in Australia to review and give them an opinion on the intellectual property. We have found the same thing in Singapore, where the health department in Singapore and other companies — including a very, very large company out of China — are infringing on our patents there. We have begun the process of pursuing Australia. We would hope to settle it very, very quickly, because they have a billion-dollar system that is basically given away to everybody who lives in Australia, which completely, completely destroys the ability for us to sell our product. We would hope that they will be objective in entering to some type of licensing agreement with us. Our patents go far back before they ever actually looked at the system that they built subsequent to the issuance of the patents, which we believe they were aware of."

Anonymous said...

It might be hard to defend as where is the evidence that Nehta have ever had a Original idea worth anything??

Anonymous said...

Even harder to defend, regardless of whatever patent infringements are being contested, when the evidence suggests that giving the PCEHR to everybody who lives in Australia has made no difference to its adoption.

Indeed the evidence points to the fact that people are not adopting the PCEHR either because it doesn't work or they do not want it.

That being the case the market is wide open to MMRGlobal because if they have, as they claim, a superior system then everybody who lives in Australia should want to adopt it. Maybe MMR will have to offer it free of charge but that would completely, completely destroy their ability to sell their product and if nobody took it up it might be because it isn't suited to the Australian Health System or because it doesn't work or because nobody wants it (heaven forbid).