Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 26th October, 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 quieter week, with ongoing stuff happening behind the scenes.
The Senate Estimates did show us how detached the DoH is with its e-Health expectations etc.

Your safety can't be guaranteed in the use of IT for healthcare

Monday 19 October 2015 5:30PM (view full episode)
When you think of medical risk you might assume that the most harm would arise from surgery or multiple x-rays.
But what if the use of IT systems was causing you more harm than any visit to the GP?
Farah Magrabi says that this area of healthcare needs to be more thoroughly researched.
She has advised governments on IT-related patient harm in the US, UK and Australia.

It’s all elementary for IBM supercomputer Watson

Chris Griffith

IBM’s supercomputer Watson became famous in 2011 after it beat humans in the US quiz show Jeopardy! but we can rest assured it’s unlikely to make us redundant anytime soon. If anything, we are increasingly putting Watson’s immense powers to greater use.
Peter Haggar, an IBM master inventor and technical leader of the Watson runtime platform, says it’s unlikely Watson would become more intelligent than ­humans in the near-term.
“I know that with Watson, some people have raised that concern but I don’t know if that’s likely in our lifetime and the way we’re positioning it is as a partner, as an enhancer,” Dr Haggar told The Australian. “Is Watson going to be making decisions about my health? The answer is ‘no’.”
Dr Haggar’s involvement began after Watson’s triumph at Jeopardy!. With the super computer pushing the boundaries of natural language processing and computer science at the time, Dr Haggar’s main job was to commercialise the technology, taking it out of the realm of pure research and into IBM’s product groups.

Will doctors' diagnoses be obsolete in 20 years?

Paul Smith | 16 October, 2015 | 
The diagnostic skills of doctors will be obsolete in 20 years according to a politician responsible for the UK’s National Health Service.
While the debate rages in Australia over the future of Medicare, the UK's health minister has taken the argument one-step further by suggesting that it’s the future of doctors that is at stake.
Jeremy Hunt has claimed that doctors of the future will not have to make diagnoses due to increasingly powerful diagnostic tools, and the NHS must position itself to be ready for the technology when it becomes available. 

Former e-Health chief dismisses privacy concerns

16 October 2015
THERE is no foundation to concerns that automatically signing up patients to the personally controlled e-health records scheme risks breaching human rights laws, says former eHealth policy chief and ex-AMA president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal.
The Melbourne GP, formerly Chief Clinical Lead at the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), says privacy safeguards are some of the strongest elements of the existing system.
Dr Haikerwal, a harsh critic of the progress of the e-Health uptake, says the unique Health Identifier fundamentally protects individuals and their health data.
“Of all the negativity around the tragic PCEHR – and a name change doesn’t help – the changes to the laws of privacy to allow the still poorly used but excellent ‘unique Health Identifier’ are very strong and protective of the rights of all Australians, and are the most robust aspect,” he says.

Hundreds could be victim of identity theft scam targeting Medicare system, estimates hears

By political reporter  Stephanie Anderson
Posted yesterday at 11:29pm
Hundreds of Australians could have had their identity stolen as part of a scam targeting the Medicare system, Senate estimates has heard.
There have been 369 cases of potential identity theft in the two years to June 2015, prompting the establishment of a police strike force to investigate whether the personal information of customers had been accessed and altered to obtain the sham payments.
No confirmation on any cases has been given by the Department of Human Services.

New website empowers patients

16 October, 2015 Clare Pain 
A new website from Arthritis Australia aimed at patients aged 18-49 with inflammatory disease should be a boon to patients and doctors alike.
Professor Michelle Leech, who was not involved in the development of the website, told Rheumatology Update: ”The EMPOWERED website has only just launched, but I’ve already recommended it to many patients.”
It provides information for patients at various stages of inflammatory arthritis, with much of the content as video interviews. The site is aimed at people with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.   
Prof Leech says she has treated many young patients. “I think young people with arthritis are deeply fearful and worried that they are going to be crippled and that they are going to lose their livelihood, their function and their relationships.”
She says patients who might get arthritis in their 30s are fearful of how they will be in their 70s and imagine they will be in a wheelchair.

Online medical workers change the way we see, hear and feel

A Melbourne company has combined audiology and information and communication technology in a service selling do-it-yourself hearing aids online.
The iHearYou service — offered by Blamey Saunders hears — bypasses audiology clinics, saving clients thousands of dollars, the company’s executive director, operations Peter Blamey says.
He says: “iHearYou reduces common barriers to getting hearing aids, such as cost and distance from service providers.”
Blamey and his team have made the finals of the Health category of The Australian Innovation Challenge awards with iHearYou.

'No bungle' over PCEHR rebrand, declares Govt

Serkan Ozturk | 22 October, 2015 | 
Only months after its high-profile rebranding of the PCEHR, the Federal Government is denying it has been involved in another “bureaucratic bungle" over its new name.
The name of the moribund PCEHR has been changed to myHealth Record as part of a multimillion dollar attempt to breathe life into a system that most doctors do not use.
It was dubbed the myHR for short, but it turned out the acronym had already been trademarked 15 years ago by AON Hewitt, one of the world’s largest financial services firms.
Last December, the government launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to use the letters as part of its e-health revamp.
Media release
Tuesday 20 October, 2015

eHealth can deliver better health, and protect privacy

An effective national eHealth system would deliver significant benefits to patients and taxpayers and it would be concerning if solvable concerns over privacy created unnecessary hurdles to the full development of eHealth, the Consumers Health Forum says.
Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has raised concerns about “limitations” to the right to privacy under the Government’s proposed change to an “opt out” system.  The opt out change would ensure all Australians were automatically included in national electronic patient records system unless they requested not to be part of the system.
Currently the eHealth system is based on an opt-in approach under which individuals have to take active steps to sign on to the system.  “The result has been lacklustre, with only about 10 per cent of Australians joining over the past three years ” says CHF Chief Executive Officer, Leanne Wells.
“We would be concerned if the new MyHealth Record project was weighed down over concerns with privacy of the kind raised by the Committee in such a way as to hinder progress of this long-awaited reform..
“”Patient and system benefits far outweigh privacy concerns although that is not to say that patient privacy does not need active management safeguards.  The choice to opt out of the scheme would remain available for people who have privacy concerns.

App Review: Evidence-based information on tap

20 October 2015
DYNAMED is a point-of-care reference tool aimed at the primary care practitioner. Founded by a family physician, Dr Brian Alper, it is a direct competitor to the better known UpToDate. It covers more than 3200 topics and monitors more than 500 journals.
DynaMed is available online and now as an app which comes free with the online subscription. I road-tested the new DynaMed Plus app, which is an upgrade from the basic DynaMed app, which is still available.
The main page of the app has a search function which is the key to unlocking the extensive information available in the app. The search function can also be used to search for images and calculators, as well as drug information.

Case study - ACT Health’s use of IHIs to reduce duplicate records

Created on Wednesday, 21 October 2015
The Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service and National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) are key foundations of the national eHealth system.
The HI Service ensures that individuals, healthcare providers and healthcare organisations are identified consistently and securely, despite changes in demographic details over time.
NASH enables secure transfer of electronic health information and authentication of senders and receivers of information.
An issue of growing concern for jurisdictions and healthcare organisations is duplicate patient records.  A duplicate patient record occurs when a single patient is associated with more than one patient record. The ability to associate patient records to the correct patient has become increasingly complicated as healthcare organisations use multiple systems for clinical, administrative, and specialty services.

Turnbull promises national digital identity, fintech committee

Government tables long-awaited response to FSI report.

The federal government has adopted the majority of recommendations made in last year's financial systems inquiry report, promising to deliver a national federated digital identity framework and a public-private sector innovation committee for the financial sector.
In its long-awaited response to the December 2014 report, tabled today [pdf], the federal government also said it would ask the Productivity Commission to review options to improve data-sharing within the sector, and remove regulatory impediments to modern product information disclosure.
By the end of next year, the government also intends to consider how to amend priority areas of regulation to make it technology neutral.

Orwell returns: Government promises to implement digital ID for all

COMMENT: After being returned to office in 1987, Prime Minister Bob Hawke triumphantly announced that he now had a mandate to introduce an ID card for all Australian residents. Such was the outcry, that Hawke backed down and talk of the card disappeared into the ether. In 2015, the Orwellian Australia Card has returned in the form of a digital ID.
Buried deep in the bowels of the 32 page Government Response to Financial System Inquiry report by former Commonwealth Bank CEO David Murray, were some chilling sentences that confirmed the Government’s intentions to figuratively stamp the biblical mark of the beast’ on every Australian residents’ foreheads.
In actual fact, the ‘mark of the beast’ happens to be a national system to implement a digital identity for all individuals, which was recommended by Murray in his report.

The 'uberisation' of medicine is underway

John Kron | 21 October, 2015 |
Tech experts claim healthcare is ripe for 'disruption'. And it is already happening. Australian Doctor investigates.
At his first press conference as Prime Minister that Malcolm Turnbull made his statement about "disruption".
"We cannot be defensive, we cannot future-proof ourselves," he said. "We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility and change is our friend ... if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it."
This volatility has been seen everywhere — as friend and foe — in the media, in the travel business, in publishing, and even in the taxi business.
And if you have been hit by the blizzard of medical media stories with a tech theme in recent months, you'll know that now it's hitting general practice.

New openEHR Whitepaper – for an open platform future

Posted on by wolandscat
Today saw the release of a new openEHR whitepaper, which provides a nice summary of open platforms thinking for e-health. From the executive summary:
The key elements of openEHR’s strategic value to future development are:
  • Technically it is a platform approach, rather than a ‘set of standards’ or monolithic specification or product;
  • It offers the most comprehensive semantic framework available in e-health, combining formal clinical modelling, terminology, and a services infrastructure;
  • It deals directly with the very difficult challenges of e-health, including semantic scalability – handling complex and constantly changing information and clinical workflows, forever;

The device that stops diabetics dying in their sleep

October 21, 2015 5:39am
Sue Dunlevy News Corp Australia Network
DANIELLA Meads-Barlow died in her sleep in the week she was to start the HSC because she couldn’t access technology that would have managed her diabetes and saved her life.
Now her mother Donna is fighting to get a government subsidy for a $5,000 continuous blood glucose monitoring device for the 130,000 Type 1 diabetes patients at risk of dying in the same way.
“She went to bed a happy, healthy 17 year old with a blood sugar level of 12.2, which is safe to go to bed,” says Ms Meade Barlow.
“When I went to wake her at 6.30am to go to school she had passed away during the night.”
Daniella’s blood glucose level had dropped so quickly she had experienced a seizure and gone into a coma.

Health Informatics New Zealand Conference, Christchurch

Tuesday, 20 October 2015, 10:18 am
Speech: New Zealand Government
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Health
20 October 2015
Health Informatics New Zealand Conference, Christchurch
Thank you for inviting me here today to open the 2015 Health Informatics New Zealand conference – the most important fixture on the health IT calendar.
It’s great to be in the South Island – the first time in 14 years the conference has been held here.
I’d like to acknowledge Liz Schoff, HiNZ chair, and David Meates, chief executive of Canterbury DHB.
Attending the HINZ conference in Auckland last year was one of my first speeches as a Minister of Health. I am pleased to be part of your conference again this year. You have chosen a highly relevant and important theme - Collaborate: Share. Solve. Achieve. Measure.

E-health records in Government's sights again after 2014 target missed

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says information technology has a 'crucial role' in making the health system more 'sustainable'.
Electronic health records are back on the Government's agenda after it missed a target of introducing them by 2014.
A government source said without electronic health records, patients could not assume healthcare providers would always have access to key clinical information about them, such as whether they were allergic to a common drug such as penicillin.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman told a conference in Christchurch that the Government had commissioned consultants Deloitte to undertake a study into the benefits of electronic health records.

NZ announces plan for single national e-health record

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 14:21
The New Zealand government has announced plans to build a single, national electronic health record (EHR) able to be accessed via portals and apps running on a variety of devices.
Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman said a report on the benefits of an electronic health records had been commissioned from consulting firm Deloitte which found that there is growing international support for adopting a “Hybrid/Best of Suite strategy for Electronic Health Records, where a ‘single’ EHR is introduced to join up information held in a smaller number of Electronic Medical Record systems.”
The Deloitte report will be published shortly on the Ministry of Health website

Social media usage linked to kids’ mental health

  • AAP
  • October 22, 2015 12:00AM
Children who spend more than three hours a day on social media websites are twice as likely to suffer mental health issues, according to a new study.
The websites were blamed for higher levels of emotional problems, issues with other children and hyperactivity.
A report from Britain’s Office for National Statistics found 37 per cent of children spent no time on social networking websites while 56 per cent spent up to three hours. About 8 per cent of schoolchildren spent more than three hours on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat on a typical day in 2012-13.

New skin to give amputees full range of touch

John Ross

Researchers have moved bionics to the next level with an electronic “skin” that could be pasted on to prosthetic limbs, giving amputees the full range of touch.
Stanford University scientists have developed an organic electronic circuit that mimics the sensory mechanisms of living skin.
The breakthrough, reported in  Science, could overcome a key ­failing of artificial limbs. Lack of tactile feedback ­limits what people can do with their prostheses.
The new technology could also remove the need for convoluted wiring as well as eliminate the traumatic phantom limb pain that afflicts about four out of five amputees.

NSW government signs Microsoft for cloud services

Five state government departments will gain access to Microsoft Office 365 and the tech giant's other cloud and mobility services under the deal.
By Corinne Reichert | October 22, 2015 -- 01:19 GMT (12:19 AEDT) | Topic: Cloud
The New South Wales government has announced a cloud computing contract for an undisclosed amount with Microsoft, aimed at digitising services and improving efficiency and productivity across agencies.
The agreement, announced by the state government on Thursday morning, will see Microsoft provide cloud and mobility services including Office 365 through its local datacentres to 130,000 employees across five departments: The Department of Health; the Department of Finance, Services, and Innovation; the Department of Family and Community Services; the Department of Planning and Environment; and the Department of Justice.
According to NSW Minister for Finance, Services, and Property Dominic Perrottet, using the suite of collaborative technologies will break down agencies' silos, encouraging departmental information sharing, as well as improving efficiency.

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