Monday, February 09, 2015

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 9th February, 2015.

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 with all sorts of other news overwhelming anything going on in e-Health.
As far as I can tell the present Health Minister is both sitting on the fence as far as the Spill is concerned as well as e-health given the lack of comment in the area!

Ley sitting on leaders fence

Feb. 7, 2015, midnight
FARRER MP Sussan Ley has called for “strong and stable government” in the wake of the federal government’s leadership crisis — but refused to answer direct questions on who she was backing.
The Health Minister issued a brief statement late yesterday but avoided the issue of whether or not she supported a spill.
“Continuing strong and stable government is an imperative for me, vital for the people I represent, and something we need to display to keep the confidence of those who elected us,” she said.
Ms Ley was promoted from the junior ministry in December by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Even worse Ms Ley can’t choose her own staff….

No Sussan, she’s not on

Feb. 5, 2015, midnight
Health Minister Sussan Ley’s first choice as top adviser was knocked back by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin.
Fairfax Media has confirmed with three sources — including one familiar with the inner workings of the “star chamber” that vets government staff — that Rowena Cowan was knocked back by Ms Credlin in recent weeks.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister denied the story, declaring it was “wrong”, but would not elaborate.
I wonder how long it will be before any progress becomes apparent?

Graham Jones: Pathology power

Graham Jones
Monday, 2 February, 2015
MY colleagues in general practice tell me there are few things more certain to make your heart sink than a patient presenting with reams of potentially misleading information from the internet on their possible diagnosis.
So I was pleased to see the relaunch of the Lab Tests Online AU, a website that explains in plain English what a patient’s pathology tests mean.
Overseen by an editorial board of members from the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), Lab Tests Online covers nearly every pathology test on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and details of many of the conditions associated with the tests.
The site explains the purpose of specific tests as well as describing how testing is conducted. Before its relaunch, the website was generating more than 88 000 unique Australian visitors every month.

Health group visits Hervey Bay to see digital hospital

Carlie Walker | 6th Feb 2015 3:46 PM
Delegates visited St Stephen's Hospital to learn more about their digital systems. Contributed.
A NATIONAL health group has visited St Stephen's Hospital in Hervey Bay to learn about the systems in place in Australia's first digital hospital.
The Health Informatics Society of Australia, a not-for profit digital health community dedicated to the advancement of e-health, brought a group of delegates to the hospital on Friday.
Executive Director of UnitingCare Health Richard Royale said about 80 people had attended the event at St Stephen's Hospital to hear from individuals who have helped implement the system in the hospital.
The hospital was chosen to host the event because it is the country's first full integrated digital hospital.

Cancer research goes digital with top-level domain

Date February 4, 2015 - 12:15AM

Hannah Francis

Technology Reporter

While some charities beg for cash on the kerb, a leading cancer non-profit is courting young philanthropists in cyberspace by becoming the first charity to register a top-level web domain (TLD).
Moving away from the tired old formula of .com or .org, The Australian Cancer Research Fund (ACRF), now in its 30th year, has launched nine websites ending in .cancerresearch to raise funds and promote the cause of finding a cure for cancer.
The World Cancer Day launch coincides with a selfie-inspired interactive fundraising campaign at, which invites visitors to upload their profile picture and become part of "The One Who Will End Cancer".

Rheumatologist slams biologics approval process

5 February, 2015 Rachel Worsley
A rheumatologist has criticised the “archaic” approval process for rheumatoid arthritis biologics and says it’s about time the system is moved online.  
Dr Paul Kubler, a rheumatologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Queensland, says it’s quite surprising that in 2015, getting authority for biologic scripts has to be done via traditional mail.
“The process is you have to see the patient, complete the forms which generally take 30-45 minutes, send them to Medicare in Hobart and then the script comes back and you get it to the patient,” he says.
The total turnaround time is 2-3 weeks, he says, but occasionally it blows out to four weeks. Sometimes scripts get lost in the mail, adding to the overall delay.

Hackers steal millions of US health records

  • Anna Wilde Mathews and Danny Yadron
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • February 05, 2015 4:05PM

Organised crime moves online

Anthem, the US’s second-biggest health insurer, said hackers broke into a database containing personal information for about 80 million of its customers and employees in what is likely to be the largest data breach disclosed by a healthcare company.
Investigators are still determining the extent of the incursion, which was discovered last week, and Anthem said it is likely that “tens of millions” of records were stolen.
The health insurer said the breach exposed names, birthdays, addresses and US social security numbers but doesn’t appear to involve medical information or financial details such as credit-card or bank-account numbers. Nor are there signs the data are being sold on the black market.
Anthem, which offers Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in California, New York and other states, said it doesn’t know precisely how many people may be affected. So far, it appears that the attack detected last week is the only breach of Anthem’s systems, and it isn’t yet clear how the hackers were able to obtain the identification information needed to access the database said Thomas Miller, the insurer’s chief information officer.

Poor security left Anthem customer records exposed

Summary: Were millions of records stolen from the healthcare insurance provider encrypted?
By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | February 6, 2015 -- 13:06 GMT (00:06 AEDT)
Lax security is suspected of exposing Anthem's customer records and making them more valuable to hackers, reports suggest.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the healthcare insurance provider did not encrypt the Social Security numbers of both former and current employees -- 80 million records of which were potentially stolen in a crippling cyberattack.
A person familiar with the matter told the publication that no encryption was in place due to a "difficult balancing act" in protecting information -- and making it useful to the company.
The decision not to encrypt the data could hit Anthem hard. If the data was scrambled, the customer records would have been less valuable -- taking time to decrypt and potentially more difficult to access in the first place. The source also said encryption would have "made it harder for Anthem employees to track health care trends or share data with states and health providers." However, encryption makes data management slower, which could have influenced Anthem's decision, if the data was indeed left exposed.

Overseas second-opinion service sparks fears

3 February, 2015 Tessa Hoffman
Hundreds of Australian patients have sought second opinions from overseas doctors through a controversial online service.
Best Doctors pays overseas physicians up to $1000 to give a second opinion without ever having contact with the patient.
Under the program, doctors from leading teaching hospitals in the US, Japan and Europe are chosen by Best Doctors to review patients’ medical files and treatment plans, making new diagnoses in 14% of cases and alternative treatment recommendations in 29% of cases.
Access to the service is currently only available to the members of select life and health insurance companies.
Best Doctors managing director Darren Reynolds said the service was designed to reduce medical diagnostic inaccuracy by providing a  fresh perspective that could feed into a treating doctor’s plan.

Apple's HealthKit gets a checkup at top hospitals

The service is being trialed or considered at 14 of the 23 leading hospitals polled by Reuters, though implementing it poses some challenges.
Apple new HealthKit technology is getting its own examinations at some top hospitals to see if it can successfully monitor patients remotely and thus help trim medical costs.
Among 23 of the leading hospitals questioned by Reuters, 14 have launched a pilot program of HealthKit or are in discussions to do so, Reuters reported on Thursday. The goal of the program is to see if doctors can monitor patients with chronic ailments such as diabetes and hypertension looking for early signs of medical problems so they can step in before a problem becomes more serious.
Ultimately, such monitoring could help hospitals save money by cutting down on repeat admissions, which earn them penalties from the government, Reuters said.
Unveiled last year, Apple's HealthKit is a framework designed for developers to create apps that can gather and share medical information about its users. Via Apple's Health app, the data collected from third-party apps can then be sent remotely to doctors and hospitals. Apple is competing with Google and Samsung, which have launched similar services. Those services are only now starting to roll out for testing, which means Apple is ahead of the game. But many of the hospitals say they also want to test the Google Fit service since most smartphones run Android.

Six smart medical devices that could improve your health

Date February 6, 2015 - 2:40PM

Sylvia Pennington

The fact Queensland start-up Medic8 Health put on hold a crowdfunding drive for its smart stethoscope last month, doesn't mean smart medical devices don't deserve a chance.
Despite having raised $528,000 from backers in more than 100 countries towards a $700,000 Kickstarter target for a wireless home version of the traditional doctor's staple, Medic8 Health decided to seek medical approval before accepting the funds.
It was a nice idea – the Stethee could be linked to a smartphone or tablet and used to track and analyse vital health signs and share them with others – but it isn't the only DIY medical aid to come off the digital drawing board in recent times.

PCEHR: The Journey Towards National eHealth Adoption


Melbourne Theatre Company Welcomes New Board Members

February 4
11:19 AM 2015
Chair of Melbourne Theatre Company Terry Moran AC today announced four new members to join the MTC board - Tony Burgess, Patricia Faulkner AO, Jane Hansen and Janette Kendall.
Patricia Faulkner AO is Chair of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Board, the National Health Performance Authority, Jesuit Social Services, Deputy Chair of St Vincent's Healthcare Australia, and a Commissioner of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. She has served on, and chaired, several boards including the Prime Minister's Social Inclusion Board and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute Board. Patricia has held health and social policy roles, including Secretary for the Department of Human Services, Victoria, where she was instrumental in establishing the National e-Health Transition Authority and was its first Chair. More recently, Patricia was a partner at KPMG, leading the firm's global health care business and the state governments sector. In 2008 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her services in health and human services.

Humans Account for Less Than Half of Global Web Traffic

February 6th, 2015
Global web traffic has increased sharply over the past few years. However, the majority of today's website traffic is not actually human traffic.
According to Incapsula's Global Bot Traffic Report, 56% of website traffic can be traced back to bots that automatically browse websites for different purposes. Roughly half of all automated traffic comes from good bots, e.g. search engine crawlers that index a website’s content. The other half of automated traffic is malicious though, caused by impersonators, content scrapers or other hacking tools that are used to steal data, spam websites or simply bring them down.

Why 3D printers are 'the sewing machine for the 21st century'

Date February 5, 2015

Yuzuha Oka

While there are plenty of industries that can benefit from 3D printing, and a large number of enthusiasts already making everything from computer parts to kitchen gadgets, one fan of the technology is evangelising its use in a more everyday context.
April Staines, co-founder of Melbourne-based company Girl Geek Academy - which aims to increase the number of women with tech skills - sees 3D printing machines as a potential boon for independent craftspeople and engineers.
A huge fan of Star Wars and Hello Kitty, Staines first met a 3D printer at a pop culture expo.
"I make costumes and props for cosplay", Staines says. "But it can be very expensive, particularly because Australia is so far away [from the US]."

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