Monday, January 06, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 6th January, 2014.

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

Welcome back - a few interesting things happening both in e-Health and slightly more broadly.
As you will note during the week we are all being softened up for major funding changes and drops in health sector funding from the Federal Government. I suspect e-Health is squarely on the hit list.
Watch this space!

What Doctors Really Think Of The Billion Dollar Portal

in Blog
on 27 November, 2013
Since the change in government a few months ago, there have been a number of media releases around the failure of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records or the PCEHR.
The main point of discussion has been the lack of patient data uploaded to the portal. Only 5000 patient summaries uploaded to the billion-­dollar portal. 5000 patient records from a population of over 23 million is without a doubt a justifiable reason for calling the project outcome a failure.
The main reason for failure, which has been touted around the media by many prominent health personalities, has been the difficulty for the doctors to use the system and access the data.
I agree that this is one of the reasons BUT it turns out it’s not the main reason for the low usage of this platform. The main reason is much simpler and obvious, turns out that the high majority of doctors have never had exposure to the platform and as such, have never been able to understand how it could help them or their patients.

FHIR DSTU Candidate Posted & Version Question

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Grahame Grieve
So today, to mark the end of the year, we’ve posted the final DSTU candidate version of FHIR.
This is not the DSTU itself: it’s the editors draft, which is now undergoing several weeks of QA review for ballot completion, technical errors, layout issues, and spelling mistakes etc.
Our intent is that we won’t be making substantiative changes to the DSTU any more, but if there’s changes that really are justified, we’ll still make them – we have one last connectathon to test everything out. Btw, early registration for that connectathon closes today.
Today’s version of FHIR is the product of 100′s of hours of review, argument, and work., and many people have contributed to the process. We (the FHIR project team – myself, Lloyd, and Ewout) would like to thank all of the contributers (they are named in the specification). We decided to turn FHIR into a real standard very nearly 2 years ago. We originally targeted the end of this year, but earlier this year we reset to the end of January, to give us one more meeting to work on it. I’m pretty pleased that we’ve pretty much stuck to the schedule, though it’s certainly been a grind.
24 December 2013, 8.14am AEST

2013, the year that was: Health + Medicine

TThe first election year since the launch of The Conversation didn’t have a massive impact on the Health + Medicine page. Sure, we ran quite a few stories on the subject and some of them were avidly read…


The first election year since the launch of The Conversation didn’t have a massive impact on the Health + Medicine page. Sure, we ran quite a few stories on the subject and some of them were avidly read but, for the most part, it was a steady diet of general pieces and articles linked to the news cycle.
But election year it was and it’s ending with a new government in office. We haven’t heard much from minister Peter Dutton yet, but combining the health and sport portfolios could mean good things for both.
Perhaps we’ll see less linking of sport with alcohol, gambling, and junk food. This triumvirate of sins undermines any health messages transmitted through professional sports. And it means bad things for the nation’s well-being.
Perhaps we’ll even see some “sin taxes” to help health funding, an area in which I expect much activity next year.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt's tech predictions for 2014

Date December 31, 2013

Seth Fiegerman

This post was originally published on Mashable.
It's that time again when everyone makes a few bold predictions for the year to come. This year, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is joining in on the fun.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV about 2014 trends, Schmidt highlighted the growing importance of big data for businesses and the rise of personal genetics. But the key trend, according to Schmidt, boils down to one word: mobile.
"The trend has been that mobile was winning. It's now won," he said. "There are more tablets and phones being sold than personal computers. People are moving to this new architecture very fast." For that reason, he believes we will see a "new generation of applications" emerge to fill changing needs for entertainment, social networking and more.

Bendigo makes the most of eHealth records

By Hannah Knight

Dec. 28, 2013, 3:40 p.m.
BENDIGO health professionals are embracing the eHealth record initiative.
The federal government initiative is a secure online summary of your health information designed to enable doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to view and share your health information to provide patients with the best possible care.
Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local has teamed up with St John of God Hospital Bendigo to help people register their eHealth records.
LMMML trained 11 of the hospital’s volunteers to help staff, patients and visitors register for an eHealth record.
LMMML eHealth co-ordinator Katrina Law commended St John of God Hospital Bendigo for embracing the eHealth initiative.

How to make hospital wards smarter

Jessica Gardner
Rob Ferguson was lunching with some mates at Centennial Vineyards in Bowral when he first met Matt Darling.
“He approached us nervously,” Ferguson says. “He wasn’t brazen about it. He sort of said his piece in about two sentences.”
For an introverted suburban Dad, Darling’s approach to a table of strangers in winter 2010 was out of character but he was feeling equally anxious and downtrodden. The founder of health software start-up SmartWard had just been knocked back by some Sydney venture capitalists. Travelling with his wife and two children, Darling had stopped in Bowral on the drive back to Canberra. Darling told the group he was developing software for hospitals but wasn’t sure what to do next. “Would any of you be prepared to give me some advice?” he asked.
Ferguson, the chairman of Australia’s largest medical centre operator, Primary Health Care, offered his notepad for Darling to write down his details and said he would call on Monday.

Computer failure adds to ambulance patients' pain

Date January 4, 2014

Louise Hall

Court Reporter

The Ambulance Service of NSW was forced to seek a cash bailout from the government after its new electronic billing system malfunctioned, meaning $7.5 million in invoices could not be sent out.
The new billing system was designed to allow paramedics to enter patient details into an electronic medical record that would automatically generate and track invoices. However it was suspended in July 2013, nine months after it was introduced.
Imagine getting a bill three months after a loved one has died 
The NSW Ministry of Health has had to subsidise the ambulance service's cash flow while the system was offline for three months and has continued to plug the revenue hole created by the delay in creating 105,000 invoices worth $7.5 million.

Device implants will push the boundaries of what it means to be human

Date December 27, 2013 - 8:09AM

Steve Johnson

It's likely the world in the not-so-distant future will be increasingly populated by computerised people like Amal Graafstra.
The 37-year-old doesn't need a key or password to get into his car, home or computer. He's programmed them to unlock at the mere wave of his hands, which are implanted with radio frequency identification tags.
The rice-size gadgets work so well, he says, he's sold similar ones to more than 500 customers through his company Dangerous Things.
The move to outfit people with electronic devices that can be swallowed, implanted in their bodies or attached to their skin via "smart tattoos" could revolutionise health care and change the way people interact with devices and one another.
Critics call the trend intrusive, even sacrilegious. But others say it ultimately will make life better for everybody. Some researchers and executives envision a day when devices placed in people will enable them to control computers, prosthetic devices and many other things solely with their thoughts.

Government puts key talks on health reform on hold for six months

FEDERAL, state and territory health ministers earlier this year resolved to have a high-level advisory committee explore "possible future directions for future reform of Australia's health system".
The committee was to look at how this could be done through a closer working relationship between GPs and hospitals, better e-health solutions and improved co-ordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, including cancer.
The NSW government was then tasked with reporting on the progress of the existing National Health Reform Agreement, including the performance of various bodies established by the Rudd and Gillard governments, and with developing a framework and timeline for further reform work.

NSA researching quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption

Date  January 3, 2014 - 11:17AM

Steven Rich, Barton Gellman

In room-size metal boxes, secure against electromagnetic leaks, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build "a cryptologically useful quantum computer" – a machine exponentially faster than classical computers – is part of a $US79.7 million ($89.5 million) research program called "Penetrating Hard Targets". Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Maryland, in the United States.
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA's code-breaking mission. With such technology, all forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure websites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

SA Health defends omission of $95m worth of late bills from annual report

30 December, 2013
SA Health says there is nothing suspicious about the omission of millions of dollars worth of late bills from its annual report.
The department paid $95 million worth of bills more than 30 days after the due date in the 2012-13 financial year, but that figure was left out of the report.
A spokeswoman says it was a "complete and accidental oversight" and the department has improved its account payments since the introduction of new software in May.

Your Australian broadband results may vary

Summary: Two days out from Christmas, the Australian government has released the summary of its broadband availability and quality report, but the detail and methodology will wait until 2014.
By Josh Taylor for Gen Why? | December 23, 2013 -- 05:28 GMT (16:28 AEST)
It is part and parcel of the IT journalism industry that several times a week, we'll be handed the results of some "amazing" new survey commissioned by a vendor seeking to push a product that just happens to answer all of the desires of the survey respondents.
When the methodology is there, you can usually see whether the results can be relied upon and reported, but even then, we're often hesitant to report on them, because the company that commissioned the report clearly wants you to buy its new product.
These sorts of surveys usually rise in frequency around quiet times in the year, so it is not surprising to see one land on our desks today, two days out from Christmas. What is unusual is that this time, the vendor happens to be the Australian government.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull today delivered the Department of Communications' Broadband Availability and Quality report, as expected, but the presents were a little light, with just the summary of the report being released.

Australian broadband speeds inconsistent, patchy: study

Date January 2, 2014 - 11:46AM

Lucy Battersby

More than a third of the Australian premises with access to fixed broadband never get more than moderate speeds of 9 megabits per second (Mbps), according to a summary of broadband availability and quality released by the government.
However, about 65 per cent of 9.9 million premises with access to DSL technology could theoretically get up to 21 Mbps, and about 28 per cent of Australian premises already have access to high speeds of more than 25 Mbps, including those connected to the national broadband network (NBN).
The study was one of four promised by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull into broadband and the NBN during the election. A five-page summary was released on December 23 to meet the minister’s 90-day deadline, but the full report will not be available for some weeks.

10% of desktop PCs now run Windows 8

Date January 3, 2014 - 2:28PM

Pete Pachal

This post was originally published on Mashable.
Microsoft's bold attempt to redefine the PC as a touch-enabled, cloud connected machine – otherwise known as Windows 8 – is slowly but steadily spreading to more of the world's PCs. However, its predecessor, Windows 7, is still the version of choice for most Windows users.
PCs running Windows 8 and 8.1 now compose 10.49 per cent of the PC market, according to data from Net Applications. The two versions of Windows gained a combined 1.19 per cent in the month of December.
Those gains weren't at the expense of Windows 7, though, which rose by 0.88 per cent, or even Windows Vista, which rose 0.04 per cent. Windows XP was the big loser, dropping 2.24 per cent, sliding on the news that Microsoft would sunset the 13-year-old operating system in 2014.


Dr Ian Colclough said...

David, you suggest the main reason doctors are not using the PCEHR Portal is because the majority of doctors have never had exposure to the platform and as such, have never been able to understand how it could help them or their patients.

While that is true I believe there is a still more fundamental explanation.

The sales process has been deeply flawed. A full working demonstration of the PCEHR PORTAL is required to underpin any compelling sales pitch. ppt slides are useful to convey concepts but without a convincing demonstration the sceptical will remain sceptical and show no interest in adopting the system regardless of any financial inducements on offer.

Dr David More MB PhD FACHI said...

Hi Ian,

It was the article author who talked about the portal. I just made it available.

As far as the PCEHR is concerned - it is not sale-able being conceptually utterly flawed. Not a problem any inducement can fix.