Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 10th March, 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

A very quiet week - other than the comments from Mr Dutton outlined below.
Other than this we have an eclectic mix of items which are relevant to e-Health - most especially the outcomes and consequences that are now flowing from the data breach at the Immigration Department.
Of most fun to me was the Medicare Locals - facing oblivion - talking their own book and pointing how wonderfully effective and useful the Medicare Locals are. Oh how true I am sure that is!

PIP payments for teaching set to double

6th Mar 2014
A DOUBLING in PIP payments for GP teaching promised by the Coalition before the election last year looks likely to be included in the upcoming federal budget.
Health Minister Peter Dutton told the Future of General Practice Conference, held by General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) in Canberra today, that the government was “implementing that promise”.
And while there remained some “serious flaws” in the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, Mr Dutton remained optimistic about its potential.
He told the conference he was considering the findings of a review he commissioned into the billion-dollar system but said problems relating to the availability of reliable medication and allergy information needed to be made a priority.
By improving these areas and allowing greater uploading of patient discharge summaries, GP and hospital clinician engagement could be significantly increased, Mr Dutton said.

Orion Health Wins Frost & Sullivan 2014 Growth Excellence Award for Healthcare IT

The Australia Healthcare Awards honour companies that have demonstrated best practices and exemplary levels of excellence.
Sydney, 3 March 2014 - Orion Health, a global e-health technology leader, has now been recognised as a leader in the Australian healthcare IT market by Frost & Sullivan Australia. The company was awarded the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Growth Excellence Award for Healthcare IT for 2014.
The Australia Healthcare Awards are part of the Frost & Sullivan Australia Excellence Awards which were founded in 2006, and honour companies that have demonstrated best practices and exemplary levels of excellence. Market participants were judged according to research conducted for Frost & Sullivan’s latest research on the Australian and global healthcare market.

Global PC shipments fall 10%

Date March 6, 2014 - 10:40AM

Brandon Carte

Global shipments of personal computers fell 9.8 per cent last year and are likely to decline by 6.1 per cent in 2014 due to lacklustre demand in developing countries, according to market research firm IDC.
The results in the fourth quarter of 2013 were slightly better than expected. IDC predicted a 10.1 per cent decline, but last year's 9.8 per cent decline has been the largest drop since IDC began tracking the data in 1994.
Unit volume of PCs is predicted to slip from 315.1 million units worldwide in 2013, to 291.7 million in 2018. IDC defines PCs as: "desktops, portables, mini notebooks and workstations." This means the figures include netbooks but exclude tablets with detachable keyboards.

Ineroperability and Safety: Testing your healthcare integration

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Grahame Grieve
Testing is is critical both early and often. Please learn from others failures. The Apple “goto fail”provides a chance to learn testing governance lesson. It is just one in a long line of failures that one can learn the following governance lesson from. Learning these lessons is more than just knowing the right thing to do, but also putting it into practice.
Starting with the Apple Goto Fail: I was personally astounded that this bug existed for so long. John notes that this is an open-source library, though I think of this as “published source” not “open source”. And btw, NSA, thanks for letting Apple know about the bug when you found out about it – I’d hate to think that you preferred for us all to be insecure…
Anyway, the key thing for me is, why isn’t this tested? Surely such a key library on which so much depends, it’s surely tested every which way until it’s guaranteed to be correct?  Well, no, and it’s not the only security library that has problems - even very similar ones. Though it’s probably properly tested properly by Apple now – or soon anyway (in fact, I figure that’s probably how they found the issue).

Medicare Local myths busted

4th Mar 2014
IT BEGGARS belief that Australia’s primary healthcare system stirs up misleading myths about its performance and purpose.
Sean Rooney 
Chief Executive Officer, AML Alliance
For a system that is actively organising primary healthcare, reducing bureaucracy and improving service access and equity, the naysayers are starting to look like they are crying wolf.
So let’s look at some of the myths surrounding Medicare Locals (MLs) and set the record straight.
Myth #1 — GPs not happy: Recent press reports that assert an “overwhelming majority of doctors think their ML has done nothing to improve healthcare” are just plain wrong. The facts are that the survey quoted was not exclusive to GPs. It attracted just over 1200 respondents, of whom 75% provided the negative feedback. Of approximately 30,000 GPs Australia-wide, 900 is not the majority of doctors. Spot the myth. Furthermore, MLs that have surveyed GP satisfaction levels are reporting positive responses.

Researchers testing tiny ear computer

Date March 3, 2014

Miwa Suzuki

A tiny personal computer that is worn on the ear and can be controlled with the blink of an eye or the click of a tongue is being tested in Japan.
The 17-gram wireless device has Bluetooth capability and is equipped with a GPS, compass, gyro-sensor, battery, barometer, speaker and microphone.
Wearable computing is thought by many commentators to be the next big thing in technology, with products such as Google Glass at the forefront.
The device, known at the moment as the "Earclip-type Wearable PC" has a microchip and data storage, enabling users to load software, said engineer Kazuhiro Taniguchi of Hiroshima City University.

Asylum seekers across Australia launch legal appeals following data breach

Government faces slew of federal court appeals after details of every asylum seeker on the mainland was accidentally published
Asylum seekers across Australia are lodging court appeals following the inadvertent disclosure of almost 10,000 asylum seekers’ personal details, claiming the breach has exposed them to persecution from authorities in their home countries and therefore they are entitled to automatic protection.
Guardian Australia revealed in February that the names, dates of birth, countries of origin, arrival date and location of every asylum seeker in a mainland detention facility was accidentally published on the department’s website.
A letter, which detainees say has been signed by more than 50 asylum seekers in Villawood detention centre in western Sydney, also claims Immigration Department staff have intimidated asylum seekers who have indicated they will lodge claims, and are inviting “vulnerable” detainees to waive their privacy rights.

Medical board’s online fine backflip

7th Mar 2014
THE Medical Board of Australia has made a swift U-turn on threats to fine doctors for failing to police online reviews of their services.
Under the recent directive, due to come into effect on 17 March, practitioners faced a $5000 fine for not requesting the removal of unsolicited online reviews of their clinical services. 
GPs reacted angrily to the move, claiming it amounted to censorship of freedom of speech.
But MBA chair, Dr Joanna Flynn, has now said the policy was only ever intended to apply to proactive advertising or promotion of a regulated health service.

AHPRA’s guidelines: Can someone tell me what just happened?

For those who haven’t followed the lively debate about the revised advertising guidelines for Australian health professionals, this post from last week explains it all. In summary, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency now says in its new guidelines that practitioners can be fined if patients post online testimonials praising the clinical care they received.
Last Friday, it seemed as if AHPRA had backed down on the harsh regulation. But is this really the case?
What does AHPRA say?
First of all, here’s a quote from the current guidelines:
a review (…) that states ‘Practitioner was quick to diagnose my illness and gave excellent treatment’, is a testimonial which references clinical care and is considered in breach of the National Law.
The guidelines also state that health practitioners must take steps to remove unsolicited testimonials appearing on any (social media) website not under their control. However, last Friday the medical board put out a media statement on the AHPRA website saying this:
The advertising guidelines apply to testimonials in the context of advertising (…) there is a clear difference between advertising - which requires an intent to promote the health services - and unsolicited online comment over which practitioners do not usually have control (…). The Board recognises that practitioners are unable to control what is written about them in a public forum.
The full statement can be found here.

Are we raising a generation with digital dementia?

Date March 7, 2014 - 5:33PM

Mary Ann Roser

The obsession with all things digital, from smartphones to online games, has some health experts worried about kids today - especially their brains.
The two-year-old who can nimbly use an iPad or kill a gazillion monsters playing a video game isn't necessarily a genius, says Manfred Spitzer, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist. That child could be en route to trouble with memory and thinking, a condition Spitzer and others call "digital dementia".
"When you use the computer, you outsource your mental activity," Spitzer said. While computers can be fine tools for adults who are using their minds all day long, they're poison for kids, he said.
Spitzer is author of the 2012 book Digital Dementia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds.

Pro anorexia, bulimia social media posts on the rise

Date March 6, 2014

Katie Cincotta

The young girl's collarbone juts forward, her ribcage taut and exposed like the withered bones of a sunken vessel, more threatening than sensual in this body display known as the ''bikini selfie''.
Social networks have acted to try to minimise harmful behaviours by their users, but comb sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr for hashtags such as #thinspo and #thinspiration and you'll find thousands of gaunt, underweight victims documenting their quest to achieve their version of beauty.
Social media, with their global proliferation and instant provision of validation in the form of a ''like'', have drawn dramatic new focus on ''skinny'', acting as an intimate tabernacle of gaudy body shots where the anorexic come to worship.
According to an Internet Trends study, the number of pro anorexia and pro bulimia - or ''pro mia'' - sites increased 470 per cent between 2006 and 2008.

Coalition on hunt for Labor’s NBN secrets

THE federal government has commissioned its fifth audit of the National Broadband Network and appointed the former head of the Productivity Commission, Bill Scales, to oversee an independent investigation into the process that led to the formation of Labor’s NBN policy.
The genesis of the policy has been steeped in controversy since it was originally devised in March 2007 by then opposition leader Kevin Rudd as a $4.7 billion publicly funded subsidy to build a fibre-to-the-node network.
In 2008, as the world’s economy was rocked by the global financial crisis, the original proposal was scrapped and replaced with a $43bn proposal for the government to go it alone and build a fibre-to-the-premise network. At the time the official reason given by an expert panel overseeing bids for the $4.7bn subsidy was that none of the bids presented “value for money”.

Turnbull asks how the NBN got that way

Former Telstra official to lead audit of NBN policy process under Labor
The Coalition will deepen its probe of the National Broadband Network, with the government announcing the appointment of a former Telstra official to investigate the public policy process behind Labor’s NBN.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the appointment of Bill Scales to perform the audit. Scales was previously in charge of regulatory matters at Telstra as group managing director for regulatory and corporate affairs.
Scales also served as chairman of the Industry Commission and secretary of Victoria’s department of premier and cabinet.
“The independent audit will investigate the advice, decisions and policy processes that led to the National Broadband Network policy and establishment of NBN Co,” Turnbull announced today.

NBN should be made a monopoly

  • Business Spectator
  • March 04, 2014 12:00AM
THE government must either legislate for the National Broadband Network to be a monopoly or ditch it. There's no other alternative.
To allow Telstra and TPG, and perhaps others, to compete against it would turn a marginal infrastructure proposition into a financial disaster, and Malcolm Turnbull couldn't blame Stephen Conroy either: Conroy's NBN was going to be a monopoly.
Turnbull is the one who, in opposition, talked airily about allowing competition against the NBN, and now both TPG and Telstra are taking him up on it. TPG has announced plans to lay the fibre to the basements of apartment buildings, and last week David Thodey of Telstra said, in effect, that if TPG is allowed to do that, then so will Telstra.
Here is what Thodey is reported to have said a few days ago: "If they (the government) are going to continue with what was the original intent, to have no infrastructure-based competition, then they need to plug the hole.

ANU astronomers want to fire lasers at space junk

Date March 7, 2014

Henry Belot


Astronomers at the Australian National University want to fire lasers at space junk orbiting Earth in an effort to avoid scenes depicted in the Oscar-winning movie Gravity.
The astronomers will be based at the $20 million Cooperative Research Centre at Mount Stromlo.
Cooperative Research Centre chief executive Ben Green said scientists estimated more than 300,000 pieces of space junk were orbiting the Earth and they posed serious risks to satellites and space exploration.
"There is now so much debris that it is colliding with itself, making an already big problem even bigger. A catastrophic avalanche of collisions that would quickly destroy all satellites is now possible," he said.

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