Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 20th May, 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 Budget came this week and we saw the funds committed to e-Health last year continue and then an apparent drop of in 2014/15 and deeper drops following .
Other than that we learn that we have just over 150,000 people registered to the PCEHR, some trials of secure messaging between differing providers and Tasmania looking for some new systems.
Hopefully a quiet week.

Budget 2013: eHealth round-up

The 2013 Federal Budget, delivered by Treasurer Wayne Swan last night, will deliver new spending of around $13 billion and make savings of an estimated $44 billion over the next four years.
Despite an unexpected $18 billion deficit, big-ticket social welfare programs such as the Gonski education reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme have been funded.
The Medicare levy will rise from 1.5 to 2 percent from 2014 and promised spending increases and tax cuts linked to mining and carbon taxes (eg lifting the tax-free threshold and raising family tax benefits) have been abandoned. 

‘Dumbing down the health system’ – doctors dissect budget

15th May 2013
FREEZING Medicare rebates, targeting MBS double-dipping, and capping tax-deductible CPD costs claimed by doctors are all part of sweeping savings measures in the federal budget.
The government is set to reap $644.4 million over four years by freezing Medicare rebate indexation at current levels until 1 July 2014, and the raising of the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) threshold from $1221.90 to $2000 has been forecast to save $119.9 million over the same period.
MBS rebates had been due for indexation from 1 November this year.
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton and RACGP president Dr Liz Marles both reiterated pre-budget warnings that the measures would lead to greater out-of-pocket expenses for patients, as doctors were forced to increase fees to cover the costs of quality health services.

PCEHR Registrations starting to snowball

The rate of new registrations for the personally controlled electronic health record is starting to snowball, a DOHA spokesperson said today, with registrations increasing by 28 percent in just over a fortnight.
There were 158,847 people registered as at midnight on May 16 - an increase of more than 25,000 since April 30, when registrations were at 124, 090.
However, the Federal government's target of 500,000 registrations by July 1 2013 still looks unlikely, particularly when the Department’s low-key promotion continues and clinicians remain disinterested.

The PCEHR – an update for emergency physicians: Stuart Stapleton

Note: The video is available from the link at the top of the entry.

Opinion: Why national e-health is not for everyone

Australians not affected by poor health are less likely to register for a national health record than those with chronic illnesses, argues Brett Avery
The national e-health initiative is missing its take-up targets. According to a report last month in The Australian, the federal government hoped to see 500,000 Australians with a personally-controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) by July, but as of early March there were only 73,648 consumer registrations.
For those registered with a PCEHR, there were only 108 shared health summaries and 51 discharge summaries uploaded into the PCEHR system that consumers could share with their healthcare providers.
There has been a big focus on hitting targets for the PCEHR but quite frankly, Australians who are in good health are unlikely to have the same need for a PCEHR than those who require ongoing care.

NBN rollout ‘essential’ for rural pensioners

  • 14th May 2013 8:06 AM
ROCKHAMPTON'S Jim Lawler is holding his breath in anticipation to see if tonight's Federal Government Budget will include ongoing eHealth care for regional Queensland.
The National Union of Retired Workers regional secretary said the National Broadband Network rollout for the region, he hoped, was an absolute priority for the government because it gave residents in rural areas, away from major cities, the chance to be on top of their health.

BUDGET 2013: CSC applauds healthcare investments

Identifies three top healthcare and technology initiatives leading into the Federal Election
Solutions and services provider, CSC has welcomed the Federal Government's Budget announcement regarding health and technology.
CSC general manager for global healthcare, Lisa Pettigrew, said, in a statement, that CSC, In particular, applauded the ongoing investment in the NBN which was crucial to Australia's future in the digital economy and underpinned the future of eHealth for Australian consumers.
"We are also pleased at the investments being planned for DisabilityCare and the bi-partisan support for the DisabilityCare conceptual proposals," she said.

Human Services ups the ante in IT

  • by: Fran Foo
  • From: Australian IT
  • May 15, 2013 12:00AM
A SLEW of IT initiatives have been earmarked at the Department of Human Services as the government seeks to increase productivity and efficiency.
As part of Budget 2013, $30 million will be provided over two years to enhance call centre services and reduce waiting times.
"This measure will provide DHS with greater capacity to answer calls during the peak period for customers in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit and/or claiming the Child Care Rebate (July through September)," budget papers revealed.
The improvements will come from a number of initiatives, including callback options; improving interactive voice response messaging; increasing the use of mobile phone applications for customer interactions with the department and improving business processes.

Scientists take data approach to beat disease

Date  May 14, 2013

Brad Howarth

It's an unusual match, but computer scientists, mathematicians and geneticists are joining forces across Australia to improve the lives of thousands of sufferers of conditions ranging from epilepsy to prostate cancer.
New advances in the emerging field of health bio-informatics (also known as computational biology) are giving clinicians the ability to fight diseases more accurately by combining advanced computer hardware and programming with genetic sequencing tools.
These tools are being used at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) at the Royal Children's Hospital to sequence the entire genome of patients to identify the source of ailments including epilepsy, heart disease and neuromuscular conditions.

Death wishes to be on EHR in Australia

The Australian government is pushing forward the plan to allow citizens to record their dying wishes on the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, and ensuring them to have control over their end-of-life care, said Australian Minister for Health Tanya Joan Plibersek.
The announcement came late last week as part of an additional AU$ 10 million (US$ 9.97 million) Commonwealth allocated to develop this capability to store so-called ‘Advance Care Directives’ on their PCEHR.
The funding is as part of the amount of AU$325 million (US$ 323 million) already allocated to Tasmanian Health Assistance Package announced last June, which was used to assist the Tasmanian government and the Cradle Coast eHealth site to develop an advance care directive repository.
“Most families want to be true to the wishes of their loved ones as they approach the end of their lives, and Advanced Care Directives allow that to happen,” Plibersek said.

Australian eHealth a step closer with successful trial of Secure Message Delivery

Created on Friday, 17 May 2013
The Australian healthcare industry is one step closer to fully adopting technology in health (‘eHealth’), with healthcare providers successfully trialling electronic information transfer and sharing.
Five healthcare messaging vendors - Argus Connect, Global Health, Healthlink, LRS Health, and Medical Objects - collaborated with General Practices, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and associated government agencies to develop Secure Message Delivery (SMD) capabilities.
According to NEHTA’s Head of Clinical Leadership and Stakeholder Management, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, the success of the Project[1] represents an opportunity for improved effectiveness and better health care.

Australian eHealth messaging trial a success

Healthcare providers to securely exchange clinical information
A successful eHealth trial of secure message delivery means Australian healthcare professionals will soon be able to share clinical information through online messaging.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) trial included five healthcare messaging vendors: Argus Connect, Global Health, Healthlink, LRS Health and Medical Objects. The vendors successfully sent and received secure messages from each other, showing the interoperability of the messaging system.
“The progress that has been achieved by this project will mean any medical practitioner–be they a public or private GP, specialist or surgeon–will be able to share information over time through online secure messaging,” NEHTA head of clinical leadership and stakeholder management said in a statement.

Health technology trial paving way for e-health adoption

The Australian healthcare industry has moved closer to full adoption of health technology, with healthcare providers successfully trialling electronic information transfer and sharing.
The successful e-health trial has just been completed by five of Australia’s healthcare messaging vendors - Argus Connect, Global Health, Healthlink, LRS Health, and Medical Objects – in collaboration with General Practices, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and associated government agencies.
The trial tested the use of Secure Message Delivery (SMD) capabilities.
According to NEHTA’s Head of Clinical Leadership and Stakeholder Management, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, the success of the project represents an opportunity for improved effectiveness and better health care in Australia.

Tasmania searches for $1.8 million health information system

Summary: Tasmania is searching for a contractor to take on the task of creating a single, state-wide information system for the emergency departments across four hospitals, while delivering the five-year contract within $1.8 million.
By Michael Lee | May 13, 2013 -- 07:04 GMT (17:04 AEST)
Tasmania has gone to market to find a contractor that can replace the information systems responsible for four of its public hospitals.
A large part of the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services' tender revolves around the accurate collection of data, processing it through the newly envisioned state-wide information system, migrating the data from three disparate systems into one, managing the project, and providing all the necessary testing and training required.
The requirements of the new system are quite high, with possibly technically challenging requirements, including the ability for more than one user to access a patient record at the same time (without locking out other users), regardless of the device being used; providing notification and reporting of patient status and wait times; managing complete patient billing; and tracking all patient movements, all while supporting 600 simultaneous users.

What to expect in IT for Budget 2013

Health expenditure & scope creep
Structurally the Government’s IT budget strategy needs to respond to the spending increases in health and welfare (including NDIS) supported by health technology and systems such as eHealth and the PCEHR.
Last year’s Budget sought to promote the eHealth implementation program, with a key performance indicator of achieving 500,000 for its PCEHR program, with a further million consumers to sign up in 2013-2014, with 2.2 million by 2014-2015.
In practice, PCEHR may miss its initial target, with only 109,000 records registered less than a month ago.
Some 2000 health care practitioners had access to the system, and 90 percent of GPs had access to the software deployed by the National E-Health Transmission Authority.
While the government allocated an extra $233 million over three years to continue the implementation of the national eHealth program over the $466 million allocated two years ago to build the PCEHR, its investment may be spread over a longer period than suggested by its forward estimates.
The eHealth system is subject to some recent scope creep. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek revealed last week that her department would invest a further $10 million to enable “advance care directives" to be stored on the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.
“Because it’s online, the advance care plan will be easily available,” Ms Plibersek said.

Smartphone app helps fight fat

  • From: AFP
  • May 13, 2013 9:33AM
USING a simple smartphone application to photograph meals is a useful slimming aid for the overweight, doctors say.
The app, designed by British doctors, aims at promoting "food memory" so people recall what they have eaten and are encouraged not to snack on high-calorie treats.
The app has three parts:
* before eating food or drinking a beverage, the user snaps a picture of what is about to be consumed;
* after finishing the meal or drink, the user then looks at the picture that was taken, and answers questions about the consumption experience "Did you finish it all?" and "How full are you now?";
* before further meals, users also look back at the file of pictures that have been taken in the course of the day and get a text message urging them to remind themselves of what they have already eaten.

Measuring vaccine confidence online: new tool used to analyse public concerns

Date May 13, 2013 - 9:12AM

Melissa Davey

Health Reporter

A surveillance tool developed by an international team of researchers can track anti-vaccination sentiment online, allowing them to respond to vaccine concerns as they emerge.
Researchers have been monitoring 144 countries using the tool, in the hope public health officials can respond quickly to a loss of confidence in vaccines before vaccination refusal and disease outbreak occur.
The research, released Online First in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Monday, found there were 10,380 reports on vaccines between May 2011 and April 2012. Nearly 70 per cent of the reports were positive or neutral towards vaccination, while just over 30 per cent were negative.
Of the negative reports, almost half were associated with vaccine suspension and refusal, belief systems that opposed vaccination, and risk perceptions.

Is big data all it's cracked up to be?

Date: May 14, 2013 - 8:02AM
Kate Crawford of the MIT Centre for Civic Media goes behind the numbers to debunk five myths about big data.
"With Enough Data, the Numbers Speak for Themselves."
Not a chance.
The promoters of big data would like us to believe that behind the lines of code and vast databases lie objective and universal insights into patterns of human behaviour, be it consumer spending, criminal or terrorist acts, healthy habits, or employee productivity. But many big-data evangelists avoid taking a hard look at the weaknesses. Numbers can't speak for themselves, and data sets - no matter their scale - are still objects of human design. The tools of big-data science, such as the Apache Hadoop software framework, do not immunise us from skews, gaps, and faulty assumptions. Those factors are particularly significant when big data tries to reflect the social world we live in, yet we can often be fooled into thinking that the results are somehow more objective than human opinions. Biases and blind spots exist in big data as much as they do in individual perceptions and experiences. Yet there is a problematic belief that bigger data is always better data and that correlation is as good as causation.
For example, social media is a popular source for big-data analysis, and there's certainly a lot of information to be mined there. Twitter data, we are told, informs us that people are happier when they are farther from home and saddest on Thursday nights. But there are many reasons to ask questions about what this data really reflects. For starters, we know from the Pew Research Centre that only 16 per cent of online adults in the United States use Twitter, and they are by no means a representative sample - they skew younger and more urban than the general population. Further, we know many Twitter accounts are automated response programs called "bots," fake accounts, or "cyborgs" - human-controlled accounts assisted by bots. Recent estimates suggest there could be as many as 20 million fake accounts. So even before we get into the methodological minefield of how you assess sentiment on Twitter, let's ask whether those emotions are expressed by people or just automated algorithms.

Free Windows 8 update to address confusion

Date May 15, 2013 - 11:49AM

Anick Jesdanun

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.
A planned Windows 8 update to address complaints and confusion with Microsoft's new operating system will be made available for free this year, the company says.
Not charging extra for Windows 8.1, previously code named "Windows Blue", is consistent with the company's practice of offering "decimal point" updates to operating systems for free. But when Microsoft announced the update last week, it didn't say that it would be free.
Tami Reller, the marketing and financial chief for Microsoft's Windows business, said the company wants to assure customers that they can buy Windows 8 now and still get the benefits of Windows 8.1 later.
Déjà vu.

Individual Health Identifiers For Doctors and Patient Imminent

Friday, 17 May 2013 12:12 June Shannon
Ireland’s new eHealth strategy is expected to recommend that all doctors and hospitals are allocated an individual health identifier (IHI) or number, which will allow for improved data collection and tracking across the heath service, IMN understands.
The yet to be published eHealth Strategy is also expected to recommend that all patients are assigned an IHI, which will be linked to the new public service cards currently being rolled out by the Department of Social Protection.
Speaking to IMN last week at the World of Health IT conference, the Head of ICT at the Department of Health Mr Kevin Conlon explained that work on the introduction of IHIs was at an advanced stage; however, it would need to be backed by legislation under the new Health Information Bill.


Anonymous said...

David, I couldn't find a way to send you this info so thought I'd post a comment. Are you aware that ASPEN are currently attending a primary school state sports carnival in Adelaide to perform assisted registration?
Now, I don't know too many 14+ primary school kids so either the rules have been relaxed again or Aspen are doing something dodgy.

Anonymous said...

ASPEN are currently attending a primary school state sports carnival in Adelaide to perform assisted registration ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

It is incomprehensible that a pharmaceutical company would be permitted by DOHA or NEHTA or any other authority to be involved in any form of assisted registration.

Paul Fitzgerald said...

I think you will find that Aspen is a medical services company, not a pharmaceutical company. Either way, it would seem rather odd that they would be attending a school carnival - smacks of desperation by DoHA to me - and I can't imagine that Aspen is doing it for free!