Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 30th March, 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

What an interesting week for a change!
It seems NSW is to have more money in e-Health with the Baird win in the State election a day or so ago.
It also seems the PCEHR is again in the news and that Telstra buying e-Health entities continues.
Among other things it was also noted that doctors spend too much time on forms. What news is that?

Baird government pledges $300 million for NSW e-health

March 26, 2015
New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner has said the Coalition will invest $300 million in electronic health initiatives over the next four years if it is returned to office in Saturday's election.
Mrs Skinner said the upgrades would include work to upgrading its electronic medical records system by adding voice recognition capacity, and widely rolling out an electronic medications management system, which helps NSW Health store information more efficiently and safely.  
She said the Baird government had made a record investment in information technology during its first term. It had funded new technologies across the state's 15 local health districts and two speciality networks, with new clinical systems, including HealtheNet, which connects hospitals, GPs and community health providers; electronic medications management and electronic medical records.

NSW government vows to invest $300M in e-health

Promises $48 million for e-health in the bush
The Baird government has vowed to pump $300 million over the next four years into e-health projects if it is re-elected on Saturday.
Health minister, Jillian Skinner said on Thursday that the NSW government had made a record investment in IT in its first term, rolling out new projects across the state’s 15 local health districts and two specialty networks.
If re-elected, the government said it would spend $48 million to expand e-health programs across rural and remote areas; $4 million to deploy an extra 100 tele-health sites, adding to the 1000 sites already in operation; and $4.9 million to rollout HealtheNet to a further 11 local health districts.
HealtheNet provides NSW Health clinicians with access to a consolidated view of a patient’s clinical information from across NSW Health and a patient’s National eHealth Record through the NSW Clinical Portal.

GPs labelled ‘meat inspectors’ in e-health gaffe

26th Mar 2015
AN EMBARRASSING fault that labelled PCEHR users “Meat Inspectors” has raised questions of transparency and accountability in the eHealth system.
The issue is understood to have affected a number of GPs who uploaded shared health summaries to the PCEHR over a period of around a fortnight in February. 
The Department of Health today blamed an unidentified medical software vendor.
But e-health experts told MO they believe a government gaffe is responsible for the peculiar fault.
Medical Observer can reveal that representatives of the medical software company Zedmed met in February with a GP who raised the issue.

The $1 billion e-health record that calls doctors meat inspectors

  • March 26, 2015
  • Sue Dunlevy
CONFIDENCE in the government’s troubled $1 billion e-health record is under further question after a GP found the system was identifying his job as a “meat inspector”.
Former AMA president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal who helped the government design the system before resigning in despair said it was the latest evidence the system wasn’t working.
“If the system is allowed to get roles so wrong, how do we know what it is doing to our health information?” he asks.
Australian Medical Association GP spokesman Dr Brian Morton said he too was disheartened when he tried to access a patient’s e-health record recently.

Upgrade at NSW Health reveals overpay glitch

Fran Foo

A payroll system upgrade has uncovered multiple cases of workers being overpaid at NSW Health over many years, with the department now pursuing restitution.
It is understood that Health discovered the irregularities after a new Oracle payroll system was implemented late last year.
Several unions and medical groups The Australian spoke to said that while the situation was unfair, the government could go back into “an unlimited number of years” if there was overpayment.
One source said that about 18 months ago the department had discovered a misallocation of certain allowances. “This has been going on for years. It’s not uncommon for workers not to realise they’re being overpaid.

Telstra buys UK firm Dr Foster

Mitchell Bingemann

Telstra notched up its 15th investment for its growing Health division after the telco acquired British-based health analytics business Dr Foster in the latest step towards turning its stand-alone health unit into a billion-dollar-a-year business.
The company paid about $15 million to acquire the Dr Foster business, which works with public and private healthcare organisations to improve internal care processes by measuring variations in hospital errors.
“It can be used to identify areas where patient mortality or patient length of stay or patient readmission is more than it should be given the complexity of the individual patient,” Telstra Health managing director Shane Solomon told The Australian.
“It identifies areas of strength and weakness adjusting for the risk of the patients. Hospitals use this to look at areas where they are doing better than average … and conversely they can identify where they are doing badly and identify which areas they need to pay attention to.”

Telstra just bought a health analytics company in a deal reportedly worth up to $50 million

Alex Heber Mar 27, 2015, 9:17 AM
Telstra has acquired a health analytics company in a deal reportedly worth $40-50 million as it builds out its health tech division.
UK-based Dr Foster was snapped up by Telstra Health after it previously secured distribution rights to the company’s software, which is used by healthcare providers to rank and compare performance of hospitals and staff.
Telstra has not disclosed the terms of the deal but the AFR reported industry sources indicated the telco had paid between $40 million and $50 million for the company.
Part-owned by the UK Department of Health, Telstra Health will continue to build out the Dr Foster business in Australia and the UK, as well as pursue international opportunities. The company already has contracts in place at 15 hospital services in Australia.

Telstra's eHealth push continues with Dr Foster buy

Telstra is continuing its aggresive push into the eHealth space, announcing it has acquired UK health analytics firm Dr Foster.
Heath analytics firm Dr Foster uses risk adjusted methodologies to compare the outcomes of individual hospital patients, allowing adjustment for individual factors such as medical history, age or other background factors.
Telstra said the deal is part of its strategy to become a leading provider of integrated eHealth solutions. Its health division had previously secured the exclusive rights to provide Dr Foster products and services in Australia in December 2013.
Telstra Health’s managing director Shane Solomon said the Dr Foster acquisition was a natural one for Telstra’s health analytics stream.

Doctors orders: agencies asked to ‘keep it simple’

by Harley Dennett

Standard Business Reporting cut red tape for businesses, now medical practitioners are asking benefits agencies to offer the same in their medical forms. The time GPs spent on bureaucracy could instead be spent providing essential medical care, and agencies could get a boost in the efficiency of their programs.
The Australian Medical Association is asking government agencies to rethink the complexity of the forms they require to determine patient entitlements, and convert forms to digital formats.
Accuracy is important, AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis says, but the demands have become a costly “red tape headache” for doctors:
“We understand that organisations depend heavily upon the accurate completion of medical forms to determine patient entitlements. Unfortunately, many organisations fail to appreciate the real time implications for doctors having to complete these forms. Doctors prefer spending time on patient care, not bureaucracy. Inefficiencies and excessive red tape can become a heavy burden on doctors, diverting their time away from providing essential medical care for patients.”

Senate passes controversial metadata laws

Date March 27, 2015 - 8:14AM

Elise Scott

Australians will have two years of their metadata stored by phone and internet providers after the Abbott government's controversial data retention laws passed parliament.
But it's still unclear how much will be added to internet users' monthly bills.
The latest suite of national security legislation passed the upper house on Thursday evening with bipartisan support.
The government believes the laws, which allow about 85 security and policing agencies to access two years of an individual's metadata, are crucial to thwart terrorism attacks and prevent serious crime.
The scheme is expected to cost up to $400 million a year, but the government won't reveal its share until the May budget.
A government-commissioned review found the scheme would cost about $3.98 per customer each year if no taxpayer assistance was provided.
Metadata includes the identity of a subscriber and the source, destination, date, time, duration and type of communication.
It excludes the content of a message, phone call or email and web-browsing history.

Curtin’s project to help injury rehabilitation

Jennifer Foreshew

Curtin University researchers have been trialling low-cost, portable technology to assist rehabilitation for joint injuries and mobility disabilities.
The project, led by Curtin’s department of electrical and computer engineering, involves embedding sensors into normal rehabilitation equipment worn by patients. The West Australian-based team uses inertial measurement units to read acceleration in three dimensions and angular velocity.
“We embed these into the normal braces or casts people have on the limb in question,’’ Curtin University senior lecturer Iain Murray said.
“We can then log and examine how the person is moving.

Coroner calls for real-time drug monitoring

23 March, 2015 Chris Brooker
Renewed calls have been made for a national real-time prescription drug monitoring scheme to reduce the “alarming number” of prescription drug related overdoses.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) made the call for a real-time prescription drug database following the release of data revealing high rates of fatalities linked to prescription drugs.
Speaking at the International Medicine in Addiction Conference in Melbourne, Victorian Coroner Audrey Jamieson said prescription drugs were found to have contributed to 82% of 384 deaths attributed to drugs and alcohol in Victoria in 2014.
RACGP president Dr Frank Jones said the group was advocating a national Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system to help reduce prescription drug overdoses.

The luminous girl’s guide to killing snails

Tim Boreham

Narhex Life Sciences (NLS) 0.9c
Perth is instilling its new-found reputation as the home of tech stocks with a steady flow of announcements — with nary a mention of assays and drill-stem tests.
In the case of Narhex, the dormant biotech is adopting a new charter as developer of a e-health tool called ResApp.
An algorithm developed by the University of Queensland, ResApp enables the diagnosis of asthma and pneumonia via a cough into a mobile app. Narhex has signed a deal to buy ResApp from its private owners and institute a $2.5m capital raising. ResApp can’t even wait for the ink to dry and has launched a 150-patient trial at Joondalup Health Campus in northern Perth (the biggest emergency ward in the southern hemisphere).

Confusion over requests for patient data

25 March, 2015 Tessa Hoffman
Doctors may be handing confidential medical information to the courts unaware of laws giving them the right to refuse, a medicolegal expert warns.
With confidentiality a cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship, MDA National medicolegal services manager Dr Sara Bird said many states had laws that let doctors claim privilege for patients’ files to be kept confidential.
Last year, a report in Australasian Psychiatry described how solicitors had started issuing subpoenas to psychiatrists for records in an attempt to "dig up dirt" in family court battles.
According to Dr Bird (pictured), the issue was growing. Almost one in 10 calls to MDA National was from doctors seeking advice on court processes, including dealing with subpoenas.

The rise of low cost medical tech

Open source medical technology has a long way to go. Yet, it has a lot of potential. In this guest post US-based tech writer Nicholas Filler describes alternatives to the often-expensive IT systems used in healthcare. 

According to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance website, home care in the US costs on average US$29,640 per year. This is an outrageous number when it comes to basic care within your home. But there is technology on the rise that could help patients at a very low cost, and it’s coming from the open source community.
Open source is defined as ‘any program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit – open source software is usually developed as a public collaboration and made freely available.’ This means that anyone can download or modify the code as they see fit for any project that they are working on.

#FHIR DSTU ballots this year

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Grahame Grieve
Last week, the FHIR Management Group (FMG – the committee that has operational authority over the development of the FHIR standard) made a significant decision with regard to the future of the FHIR specification.
A little background, first. For about a year, we’ve been announcing our intent to publish an updated DSTU – DSTU 2 – for FHIR in the middle of this year. This new DSTU has many substantial improvements across the entire specification, both as a result of implementation experience from the first DSTU, and in response to market and community demand for additional new functionality. Preparing for this publication consists of a mix of activities – outreach and ongoing involvement in the communities and projects implementing FHIR, a set of standards development protocols to follow (internal HL7 processes), and ongoing consultation with an ever growing list of other standards development organizations. From a standards view point, the key steps are two-fold: a ‘Draft for comment’ ballot, and then a formal DSTU (Draft Standard for Trial Use).
  • Draft For comment: really, this is an opportunity to do formal review of the many issues that arose across the project, and a chance to focus on consistency across the specification (We held this step in Dec/Jan)
  • DSTU: This is the formal ballot – what emerges after comment reconciliation will be the final DSTU 2 posted mid-year

The AMT v20150331 March 2015 release is now available for download

Created on Friday, 27 March 2015
The AMT v20150331 March 2015 release is now available for download from the NEHTA website.

A snapshot of changing roles

March 23, 2015
Orion Health announces Australia Country Manager
Population health management specialist Orion Health™ has announced the appointment of Darren Jones as its new Senior Vice President Australia. Based in Melbourne, Jones will be responsible for leading operations in Australia, and will leverage his healthcare management experience to enable the team to effectively deliver Orion Health solutions and products. Jones joins Orion Health with more than 25 years of healthcare information technology experience during which time he has worked both globally and across the Asia Pacific region to implement large-scale projects.  

Earth emerged from ashes of Jupiter’s interplanetary pinball game

John Ross

Earth and its neighbours formed after an out-of-control Jupiter trashed their predecessors in a bout of planetary dodgem cars, ­astronomers believe.
Californian researchers say the rocky planets closest to the sun — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — formed from the dust left after the gas giant Jupiter “swept through the early solar system like a wrecking ball”.
The theory, outlined this morning in the journal PNAS, builds on a NASA hypothesis that a nascent Jupiter remodelled the early solar system by spiralling towards the sun.
The death dive, which may have lasted millions of years, stopped when the gravity of ­neighbouring gas giant Saturn pulled Jupiter back into its present orbit.

NASA's Curiosity Rover finds nitrogen on Mars, an element needed to sustain life

Date March 26, 2015
Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find aliens on Mars, but do hope to find signs of the key elements to life are present.
NASA's Curiosity rover has found nitrogen on the surface of Mars, a discovery that adds to evidence the Red Planet could once have sustained life.
By drilling into Martian rocks, Curiosity found evidence of nitrates, compounds containing nitrogen that can be used by living organisms.
The Curiosity team has already found evidence that other ingredients needed for life, such as liquid water and organic matter, once existed at the site known as Gale Crater.

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