Monday, June 09, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 9th June, 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 surprisingly active week with Qld investing more in Health IT in its recent budget and all sorts of commentary on the move by Apple into Health IT.
Also of great interest is the progressive drip-drip of information on just how bad the roll out of the NBN has been and just how badly the previous Government was at large scale project implementation. The worry is, of course, that the current Government will not be much better!

Still no date for e-Health review response: take-up remains in single digits

The take-up of electronic health records in Australia is still languishing in single digit percentages among eligible recipients — with no immediate plans for publicity or education campaigns to boost voluntary take-up numbers, a Senate Estimates hearing has been told.
Department of Health Chief Information and Knowledge Officer Paul Madden told an Estimates hearing this week that just 1.66 million Australians have so far registered themselves for an e-Health record.
Based on Australia’s population of 23 million, the Estimates committee heard that this amounted to around eight per cent.
The critically low figure will be of serious concern to all sides of politics across state and federal jurisdictions given attempts to introduce a national electronic patient record have now been going for around a decade and have consumed more than $1 billion.

$200m for Queensland health service IT upgrades

Summary: The Queensland government has committed almost AU$200 million for health services IT software and hardware, in its latest budget, delivered today by Treasurer, Tim Nicholls.
By Leon Spencer | June 3, 2014 -- 07:32 GMT (17:32 AEST)
Queensland's state budget, delivered today by Treasurer, Tim Nicholls, will see almost AU$200 million ploughed into IT hardware and software for the state's health services, over 2014-2015.
This year's budget sees a 6.4 percent increase in spending for the Department of Health, with the department receiving AU$199.8 million to fund the provision of ICT equipment and software in a bid to continue the replacement, upgrade and state wide rollout of information and technology equipment to support the eHealth strategy and the national Health Reform agenda.
According to the budget papers, AU$139.9 million will be invested in IT equipment to replace, upgrade and provide future capability to support the eHealth strategy's asset replacement program.
Meanwhile, AU$59.9 million will be invested in the continued state-wide rollout of eHealth clinical and administrative support systems, including integrated electronic Medical Records (ieMR) and delivering systems for results reporting, order entry, medications management, clinical notes and discharge summaries.

QLD to splurge $200M on health systems

$457.3 million also allocated over the next 15 years for integrated wireless network to support public safety and emergency staff
Byron Connolly (CIO) on 03 June, 2014 16:17
The Queensland government has earmarked $199.8 million for ICT equipment and software to improve the state’s health services in its 2014-15 Budget handed down today.
The government said $139.9 million will be spent this year to replace and upgrade information and communication technology equipment to support its e-health strategy and reform agenda.
A further $59.9 million will be invested in the continued roll out of e-health clinical and administrative support systems including integrated electronic medical records and systems for results reporting, order entry, medications management, clinical notes, and discharge summaries.
Queensland Health will outlay $81.1 million this financial year to continue the $327 million, four-year Backlog Maintenance Remediation Program to address high priority and critical operational maintenance, life cycle replacements and upgrades, according to budget papers.

Apple's first step into health tracking small but powerful

Date June 3, 2014 - 10:21AM

Samantha Murphy Kelly

Apple has marked its first steps into the health and fitness-tracking market with the introduction of its new Health app for iOS, which will debut to iPhone owners this fall.
Although Apple mentioned daily tracking capabilities and partnerships with companies like Nike and the Mayo Clinic, there wasn't anything revolutionary included in the announcement (which was already slim on details) that isn't on the market now.
But that's not to say something big isn't coming. Apple is likely just getting started.
"The app is a good move for Apple because anything that can simplify healthcare is smart, but what they did today was just make an entrance into the space," said Skip Snow, a healthcare analyst at Forrester Research. "There are many apps out there that already offer what they plan to do, but we know there's a lot more to come."

Apple iOS 8 to offer health and home features, work more closely with mac

Date June 3, 2014
Apple has introduced new health and connected-home features for the software powering the iPhone and iPad, laying the groundwork for a busy second half of the year as the company seeks to rev up its growth.
The company announced the new mobile software, iOS 8, at its annual developer conference in San Francisco. The update, which Apple expects to release between September and November this year, includes HealthKit, which lets people monitor their health and acts as a data hub for fitness apps, and HomeKit, which includes home-automation elements so people can control locks, garage doors and lights from their devices.
Apple also showed new mobile search features that give direct links to relevant web pages if users are making certain common queries, letting people avoid Google. The company added new text messaging features, including a predictive typing tool, and a new feature to help people store more photos on their iPhones.

Apple takes app-based approach to health tech with HealthKit

Summary: Don't expect Apple to come out with a FitBit of its own anytime soon. The iPhone maker is focusing on health from the inside of iOS.
By Rachel King for Between the Lines | June 2, 2014 -- 18:33 GMT (04:33 AEST)
In contrast, Apple is taking more app-centric approach in promoting its healthcare tech strategy to consumers.
Introduced during the opening keynote of the iPhone maker's annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, HealthKit functions as a dashboard for a number of critical metrics as well as a hub for select third-party fitness products.
Users can input information about their diets and how they sleep while tracking calories burnt and blood pressure, among other body stats.

What's in a name? Aussie 'HealthKit' firm unhappy with Apple

But anyone who thinks this is the start of a serious legal fight is simply wrong
Ryan Faas (Computerworld (US)) on 07 June, 2014 01:46
An Australian company has made a big deal this week of taking umbridge with Apple's use of the name HealthKit. That company, whose chief product is an app and service that allows users to aggregate health data from a variety of sources and send that data to their doctors, is named HealthKit.
It's obvious why the company's co-founder, Alison Hardacre, has -- intentionally or not -- started a media firestorm about Apple's use of the name. Apple's HealthKit, unveiled during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote on Monday, is based on what appears to be the same concept and uses the same name.
Stories about the brouhaha have spread throughout the tech and mainstream media. Most of them include comments from Hardacre originally published in Australia's Business Spectator, as well as a statement that she's considering legal action against Apple.

Department of Health takes IBM outsourcing agreement to tender

Agency looking for a new approach to outsourcing
Byron Connolly (CIO) on 02 June, 2014 10:52
The Department of Health has gone to tender for a new IT outsourcing service provider, more than 14 years after an original $350 million contract was signed with IBM Global Services.
Since 1999, IBM has maintained its grip on the Health outsourcing deal, winning several contract renewals with the latest extension granted in 2010. But in a new tender, the department has invited other suppliers in the industry to tender for the lucrative contract.
Health said it was looking for a “new approach for the provision of ICT infrastructure and support services and the associated management and governance services”.

Sick, vomit, diarrhea: key words on the social media radar of food safety authorities

Date June 3, 2014 - 12:15AM

Matthew Hall

Australian health authorities are tracking a New York City initiative that uses social media and restaurant review websites to investigate cases of food poisoning.
A collaboration between the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Columbia University and popular review site Yelp resulted in the discovery of previously undocumented cases of food-borne illness originating in restaurants.
The project was initiated after an investigation by New York City authorities into an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease linked to one particular restaurant. It was discovered in that particular case customers had reported illness on Yelp but not to the department of health.

George Brandis is blocking path to better online security: Labor

Paul Smith
Labor has accused the Coalition government of failing to take online security threats to Australian consumers seriously, by stalling legislation it previously supported to govern the way companies must disclose details of privacy breaches.
In March, parliamentary secretary to the shadow attorney-general Lisa Singh proposed legislation to make it ­compulsory for corporations and ­government to notify people if their ­privacy was breached and personal details compromised, but she said a lack of government support meant it was unlikely to succeed.
Laws to mandate data breach disclosure were up for approval in the previous Parliament, but never made it through before the federal election.
Senator Singh said the recent breach of customer information at online giant eBay had highlighted the potential ­damage of data breaches, and accused Attorney-General George Brandis of obstructing the passage of legislation, which was widely acknowledged to be needed.

Robotic surgery can cut the cost divide

It is still the experience and skill of the surgeon, rather than the technique, that is paramount in achieving good results, although robotic surgery is gaining popularity. 
Jill Margo
Robotic surgery has come of age and is mature enough to deal with men’s ­private business in public hospitals.
It is widely available in the private sector and now there’s a push to make it equally available in the public sector.
In public hospitals, most men have open surgery, which is some $4000 cheaper, but a new analysis has shown that robotic operations can be as cost effective.
Funded by the Department of Health, a group of urologists from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre audited all radical prostatectomies in Victoria over the past three years. There were more than 5000 cases.

Pressure mounts on healthcare system

When Robert Mackey, 70, was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, his urologist recommended robotic surgery that would cut his recovery time but was rarely used in public hospitals. The cost: up to $20,000.
Fortunately for Mackey, a retired instrument maker, the Victorian government agreed to pay.
“It was imperative that I keep working to support the family and I needed to return to employment as quickly as possible,” Mackey says.
His experience exemplifies the pressures on Australia’s health system. As doctors push for the best care available for their patients, state governments are stuck with the ever-growing bills.

Invisible barcode can trace bomb makers

John Ross

SCIENTISTS have developed an invisible barcode that can be used to trace bomb makers and detect fake drugs.
American biomedical engineers say the “nanoparticle barcodes” can be secretly added to solid and liquid drugs without any measurable side-effects.
They can be added to DNT, an organic compound which is used to produce TNT, allowing investigators to trace where explosives were made by analysing “thermal signatures” in bomb debris.
The new approach “will greatly enhance forensic investigation by its technical readiness, structural covertness and robustness”, the researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

Graph databases find answers for the sick and their healers

The Neo4j graph database is proving to be popular in the medical community for connecting different entities
Joab Jackson (IDG News Service) on 07 June, 2014 04:53
A novel form of database that focuses on connections between entities, called a graph database, is finding a home in the health care industry.
"In health care, it turns out, there are quite a number of problems that involve understanding the connections between things," said Philip Rathle, vice president of products at Neo Technologies, which sells support subscriptions to its open source Neo4j graph database.
Diseases may have multiple symptoms. Doctors may belong to multiple heath care networks. There are also relationships between different types of organizations, such as insurance companies and hospitals. In the realm of bioinformatics, multiple connections exist among genes and proteins.
"There are a lot of connections happening, and graphs are good at matching connections," Rathle said.

Joint OpenEHR / FHIR review of Allergy-related Resources

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Grahame Grieve
I’m really pleased to announce a new initiative as part of the ongoing development: we’re going to do a joint review of the FHIR resources for Allergy/Intolerance (AllergyIntolerance and AdverseReaction), and the openEHR archetype for the equivalent content (openEHR-EHR-EVALUATION.adverse_reaction.v1). The review is going to be done on the openEHR CKM, on a newly prepared archetype that shows the essential content models of the existing archetypes and resources (they’re quite different)
The review will open in the next week or so (final details still being nailed down) and will be open to everyone – the openEHR community, the HL7 community, and anyone else interested in representing allergies in clinical systems, or exchanging records of them between systems.
Note that OpenEHR and FHIR have different a purpose with regard to why resources and archetypes are defined and differing philosophy about how things are done, so we’re not expecting to get exactly the same content models at the end of this process, but we are intending to get consistent content models between the FHIR and openEHR communities. Note for the HL7 community: any changes proposed to the FHIR resource are then subject to the HL7 ballot process, and we are hoping that we can work with the openEHR community when we resolve the ballot content, so that we can continue to have aligned models.

The Australian Association of Practice Managers (AAPM) and NEHTA are hosting webinars commencing in June

Created on Monday, 02 June 2014
The Australian Association of Practice Managers (AAPM) and NEHTA are hosting a series of webinars commencing in June.
Opportunity to gain CPD Points
These webinars are free for AAPM members and presentations will be available on both the AAPM and NEHTA websites following the webinars.

An app to eyeball in emergencies

20th May 2014
Dr Rosemary Atkinson  
DEVELOPED by ophthalmic and emergency clinicians in NSW as a guide for medical staff in EDs across NSW, this app is the modern form of the hardcopy and online manual which has been available for NSW Health junior doctors for many years.
It provides a quick guide to recognising the important signs and symptoms of common eye emergencies as well as providing basic management and a referral guide.
Key features
The common eye emergencies are divided into Trauma, The Acute Red Eye and Loss of Vision. Under each of these headings are the potential differential diagnoses. Each condition includes information on immediate action (if any), history, examination, treatment and follow-up including when to refer to an ophthalmologist.

Online pharmacies 'may endanger patient health'

Date June 3, 2014

Beau Donelly

Online prescription services are undermining GP and pharmacy standards and can put patients at risk, health experts warn.
Doctors selling drugs over the internet without meeting patients face-to-face have come under fire for writing prescriptions without seeing their medical records.
Critics say the services make it easier to self-diagnose and discourage patients from going to their doctor to ensure medications are not causing adverse reactions.
There are also concerns about confirming patient's identities and that some imported drugs may not meet Australian standards.

Experts warn of dangers of online drug renewals

Date June 5, 2014

Beau Donelly

An online service that offers prescription drugs without a visit to a GP has been launched amid warnings it could put patients at risk.
Health experts have expressed concern that doctors are selling drugs on the internet without meeting patients face to face or without access to their medical records.
NSW-based prescription service Doctus promotes itself as a convenient and safe alternative to visiting the GP. It offers 450 medications that have ''minimal potential for abuse or adverse side effects'', including drugs for blood pressure, cholesterol, emphysema, asthma, STDs and non-narcotic pain relief.
Patients complete an online questionnaire that is reviewed by a doctor. If approved, they are charged $25 for the prescription plus the cost of buying the drugs and postage.

Palliative care in the spotlight

2 June, 2014 Amanda Davey
Linked with inadequate care for dying patients, the widely popular Liverpool Care Pathway (LPC) has been given the boot in the UK, a development that could have implications for doctors here.
Used to develop end-of-life care pathways (EOLCPs) in Australia, the LCP was found to be fraught with legal, ethical, safety and clinical practice difficulties, along with poor diagnosis of dying in clinical care.
Now with its demise, there is an urgent need to examine current palliative guidelines, according to Dr Raymond Chan, a cancer researcher at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
SmartWard Pty Ltd Selects AdaCore Tools for Hospital Information System Development
AdaCore has announced the adoption of its GNAT Pro Ada Development Environment and CodePeer static analysis tool by the Australian healthcare informatics companySmartWard Pty Ltd for use in implementing its state-of-the-art patient care management system. The SmartWard system needs to be highly reliable and secure from unauthorized access, it has to provide real-time response and 24×7 availability, and it also must be easy to use by hospital staff. After evaluating alternative potential approaches, the company selected the Ada language and AdaCore software development tools as the best solution for meeting these requirements. The SmartWard system replaces a paper-based, manual approach that is time-consuming and error prone.

The NBN's ballooning fibre repair bill

The latest figures on the rollout of the National Broadband Network are a bit of a mixed bag for NBN Co and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The construction process is showing signs of stability but getting people on the fibre to the premises (FTTP) footprint connected is still proving to be a problem. It’s a legacy issue that NBN Co needs to get on top of lest it end up sinking the entire project.
One hurdle, it would seem, is defective fibre connections, which have reportedly stopped about 118,000 premises from getting connected.

A third of NBN not working, figures reveal

Date June 6, 2014

David Ramli and James Hutchinson

Sources close to NBN Co said it would cost more than $100 million to fix the buildings already passed, ­including up to $40 million in extra fees to contractors. Photo: Rob Homer
About 118,000 homes and businesses that should be connected to the national broadband network can’t use the service because of defective fibre connections.
The government-owned company building the network is set to pay ­contractors tens of millions extra to fix the problems and resolve a two-year negotiation stalemate.
Figures obtained by Fairfax Media reveal that more than 118,338 premises counted as covered by the NBN as of last week need millions of dollars of repairs.
The underground pipes that connect the buildings to fibre cabling on the street are damaged or missing.

Emotional robot for sale in Japan next year

Date June 6, 2014
Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.
A cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son who says robots should be tender and make people smile.
Son's mobile phone company Softbank said that the robot it has dubbed Pepper will go on sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen. Overseas sales plans are under consideration but undecided.
The machine, which has no legs, but has gently gesticulating hands appeared on a stage in a Tokyo suburb, cooing and humming. It dramatically touched hands with Son in a Genesis or ET moment.

This Is the Richest, Most Colorful Picture of the Universe Ever

By Chris Taylor1 hour ago
Gaze upon the vastness of creation, ye mighty, and despair.
The Hubble telescope may be on its last legs — it's expected to cease functioning sometime between 2014 and 2020 — but for now, the trusty 24-year old orbital camera is still sending back scenes of unsurpassing beauty in the heavens. Such as this picture NASA released Tuesday, a photograph 11 years in the making:
What are we looking at here? Some 10,000 galaxies. Light that goes back 12 billion years, almost all the way to the beginnings of the universe (take that, Creationists). And an image that, for the first time, stretches across the full spectrum of light, from infra-red to ultra-violet, catching what looks like just about every frequency in between.

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