Monday, February 22, 2016

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 22nd February, 2016.

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

E-Health has made it to the front page of the Saturday Financial Review - which I suppose can only be a good thing!
Elsewhere we have the Government propaganda winding up on the opt-out Trials and lots of new apps while we seem to have ongoing issues with SA and WA Health IT.

My Health Record News - a digital bulletin for providers

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Below is the text only version of the My Health Record News digital bulletin.

Issue 1 - February 2016


Welcome to the first digital bulletin for My Health Record, bringing you the latest news on the relaunch of My Health Record (originally called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record).

What is My Health Record?

My Health Record commenced on 1 July 2012. Like many similar initiatives around the world, it is a secure, online summary of an individual’s health information. It can be viewed by treating healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists across Australia.
  • Feb 19 2016 at 6:00 PM
  • Updated Feb 19 2016 at 7:09 PM

Former Vic health minister calls for 'carrot and stick' incentives for e-health

There must be a "carrot and stick" approach to drive GPs and other healthcare providers to use electronic health records and online consultations to reach more patients at lower cost, says a former Victorian health minister.
New figures released by the Federal Department of Health show only 2.59 million Australians – just over 10 per cent of the population – and 7836 healthcare providers have signed up to the government's struggling My Health Record e-health system.
The number of patients is double the 1.3 million signed up in December 2013, just after the Coalition won government in Canberra, but the numbers are still well below the critical mass needed for healthcare providers to have a strong interest in signing up.
The call comes as tight budgets and a swarm of reviews into the rapidly growing $155 billion healthcare sector have put the big players on edge, with pathology companies and GPs threatening to launch an election year campaign against budget cuts from their waiting rooms. 
  • Feb 20 2016 at 12:15 AM
  • Updated Feb 20 2016 at 12:15 AM

'Heart-sink' patients: tech pioneers battle healthcare inertia

In economic terms we have got a system that's entirely captured by producer interests.

Shelley Kleinhans, chief operations officer of Brisbane North PHN, wants the 1000 GPs in the area to bring their "heart-sink patients" to her organisation.
"We describe them to the GPs as: 'These are your heart-sink patients – when they come into your consult room, your heart sinks,'" she says.
"You think 'what is she going to present with today?' and 'how am I going to solve her problems in the 15 or 20 minutes that I have to treat her?'"
These patients have chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and smoking-related shortness of breath – often compounded by social problems such as isolation, frailty and poor access to transport.
  • Feb 20 2016 at 12:15 AM
  • Updated Feb 20 2016 at 12:15 AM

Telstra technology may save community nurses millions of kilometres on the road

by Ben Potter
Nurses employed by Victoria's Royal District Nursing Service drive 10 million kilometres a year, often just to watch an elderly patient take their medicine.
Now using MyCareManager a nurse can video call a patient on a wireless tablet at their home, watch the patient take their medicine or test their blood pressure or glucose. Results upload automatically.
If a patient's test results breach safe limits, an alarm goes off at the local Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) station, and the nurse can call the patient, who just hits a green button to take the call.
The results are on the patient's tablet, so she can have a say in care planning. Family members can also be looped in.

'Appalling cock-up': Morton lashes ePIP change

17 February 2016
THE new eHealth PIP change is premature and prone to failure because of the lack of consultation with doctors, according to the AMA General Practice Council chair Dr Brian Morton.
And the Department of Health has foreshadowed further changes after a spokeswoman says consultations will start on a tiered performance-based incentive this month.
The current incentive change, which came to light in mid-January and begins on 1 May, requires practices to show meaningful use of the My Health Record (MyHR).
In the first instance, this means practices must upload shared health summaries (SHS) for 0.5% of the standardised whole patient equivalent (SWPE) per quarter to stay ePIP eligible. In real terms, that is five SHS per full-time equivalent GP.

My Health Record opens up to advance care directives

Consumers will soon be able to upload a PDF of advance care planning documents to their My Health Record (formerly PCEHR), the Department of Health has confirmed.
Consumers have always been able to add the name of the custodian of their advance care directive or other legal document but the ability to upload a PDF is a new, unexpected development.
The capability for individuals to upload a copy of their advance care planning documents, such as an advance care directive or a substitute decision maker, will be available in April. Healthcare providers will be able to do so through their clinical software later in the year, she said.

New app helps people with neurological conditions practise speech

February 17, 2016 3.22pm AEDT
People with neurological disorders sometimes need to practise speech daily. from


  1. David Ireland
Electronic Engineer and Research Fellow at the Australian E-Health Research Centre, CSIRO
  1. Christina Atay
Postdoctoral research fellow, The University of Queensland
  1. Jacki Liddle
Quality of life researcher and occupational therapist, The University of Queensland


  1. Daniel Angus
Lecturer, The University of Queensland
Researchers at CSIRO and University of Queensland have developed an app called Harlie that is designed to chat with humans. Unlike Siri and Google Now – which are designed to answer specific questions – Harlie is designed for small talk. Its purpose is to help the user and health professionals understand the impact of neurological conditions on communication and well-being.
People with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia can have trouble finding the right words and may lose track of their message mid-sentence.
Users of the app have a conversation with the chat-bot, which then analyses aspects of the health of the user’s voice and communication. This includes how well vowels are articulated, vocabulary and duration of mid-sentence pauses.

GP software detects FH patients in 10 mins

Alice Klein | 17 February, 2016 |
A new Australian software tool allows GP practices to identify patients at high risk of familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) in as little as 10 minutes.
The electronic screening tool, TARB-Ex, is being mooted as a way to bring the detection and management of FH into primary care, instead of leaving it to hospitals.
Only about 10% of patients with FH are currently identified, largely due to the lack of practical population-based screening tools.
According to the developers, the new tool works by scanning patients' electronic medical records for possible FH indicators such as high LDL-cholesterol (corrected for statin use), tendinous xanthomata, arcus cornealis and family history of cardiovascular disease.

Why this app is a must have for GPs caring for the elderly

19 February 2016
ESSENTIALLY a text book in an app, Geriatrics at Your Fingertips has been produced by the American Geriatrics Society and is most suited to physician trainees and GPs caring for the elderly population. 
On opening the app, a table of contents directs the user to information on topics ranging from antithrombotic therapy to women’s health. 
There is basic information on the assessment and approach towards elderly patients, as well as on prescribing, specifically directed to the issues of polypharmacy and deprescribing. 
A tool section provides assessment instruments. For example, a mini-cognitive assessment tool and calculators that are general in nature, including for temperature conversion, BMI and creatinine clearance. 

WA Health facing inquiry over bungled Fujitsu IT contract

Staff sacked, case referred to corruption watchdog.

By Allie Coyne
Feb 19 2016 11:45AM
The WA Department of Health is facing a potential corruption investigation after the state's auditor-general referred the department's mammoth centralised computing contract with Fujitsu to the WA anti-corruption body.
In a damning report released earlier this week, acting auditor-general Glen Clarke found the four-year contract - signed in 2010 for four years and for $45 million - had blown out by $81.4 million thanks to numerous weaknesses in oversight and controls.
The audit office had been alerted to the problem in late 2014 by the then-head of the Health department Bryant Stokes following his concerns about the contract.
The Fujitsu deal was signed to provide primary and secondary data centres as well as ongoing management and support of the infrastructure in the facilities.

Broken bone? Soon you will be able to 3D print a new one

Date February 17, 2016

Rae Johnston

US scientists have created a prototype 3D bioprinter capable of creating human-scale, structurally stable tissues in any shape. Their study explores the capabilities of the new bioprinter for fabricating bone, cartilage and skeletal muscle using human as well as animal cells. And they've succeeded in making the printouts human-sized.
3D bioprinters are machines that print cells in layered patterns with the aim of creating a functional tissue or organ. However, the resulting constructs are often structurally unstable and too fragile for surgical implantation. And because they lack blood vessels, their size is constrained by the diffusion limit for nutrients and oxygen, which is around 200 micrometers — too small to make most human tissues and organs.

NSW Health on track to deliver as-a-service hybrid infrastructure

NSW Health has entered the third stage of its transformation project, and said it will continue to work towards shutting down all its datacentres in favour of GovDC.
By Aimee Chanthadavong | February 18, 2016 -- 05:27 GMT (16:27 AEDT) | Topic: Cloud
NSW Health has just entered into the third phase of its transformation project that will involve migrating its existing services and systems into a hybrid as-as-service IT model.
Speaking at Criterion's Implementing an As-a-Service Model conference in Sydney on Wednesday, NSW Health director of infrastructure Andrew Pedrazzini explained the department is just at the start of migrating existing operations onto an as-a-service infrastructure by utilising the capabilities the department has since established.
The move comes after NSW Health started to overhaul its IT infrastructure back in 2009, when it recognised that all of its entities were operating separately.

How Qld Uni removed the IT headache for genome scientists

Inside the Genomics Virtual Laboratory.

By Allie Coyne
Feb 17 2016 12:25PM
Modern genome research is incredibly data-intensive, using big pools of experimental data against catalogues of already available information in many different stages of work to perform genetic mapping.
It's a highly important area of research - scientists analyse genomes (the entire DNA content with a cell) to help them understand disease.
So it goes without saying that to undertake genomics research, these scientists need significant computational and storage resources.

Telstra Corporation Ltd not just a retail telco anymore

By Mike King - February 18, 2016 | More on: TLS
Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is known by many as Australia’s largest retail telecommunications provider, offering mobile services, home phone and broadband connections, but its other businesses are growing much faster.
Given the telco’s dominance of the retail mobile market with 16.9 million customer services and 3.3 million fixed data services, it’s surprising that the telco can continue to keep adding new users – but it did in the six months to end of December 2015.
Retail customers
Another 235,000 domestic retail mobile services were added, another 121,000 retail fixed broadband subscribers and 163,000 retail fixed bundle customers. 500,000 customers have also registered with Telstra Air – the telco’s nationwide Wi-Fi network, including 120,000 mobile customers. Telstra also has 329,000 NBN connections.

Peter O'Halloran wins Healthcare CIO of the year

Peter O'Halloran

Second year in a row.

By Staff Writer
Feb 18 2016 6:00AM
The National Blood Authority’s CIO Peter O’Halloran has been named Healthcare CIO of the year in the Benchmark Awards for the second year in a row.
After impressing judges and peers alike with an app that allowed sufferers of bleeding disorders to better manage blood inventory in 2015, O’Halloran has taken home another gong in recognition of the innovative and ambitious work he is doing on BloodNet.
BloodNet is the NBA’s nationwide effort to link all of Australia’s pathology labs to its central database to create a single, real-time view of the whole country’s critical blood inventory.
The project is being driven by a need to better manage live-saving blood supplies through shortages and health crises, so Australia’s hospitals are never left in the lurch.

Four futures for the health care system

Enrico Coiera
February 20, 2016
That healthcare systems the world over are under continual pressure to adapt is not in question. With continual concerns that current arrangements are not sustainable, researchers and policy makers must somehow make plans, allocate resources, and try to refashion delivery systems as best they can.
Such decision-making is almost invariably compromised. Politics makes it hard for any form of consensus to emerge, because political consensus leads to political disadvantage for at least one of the parties. Vested interests, whether commercial or professional, also reduce the likelihood that comprehensive change will occur.
Underlying these disagreements of purpose is a disagreement about the future. Different actors all wish to will different outcomes into existence, and their disagreement means that no particular one will ever arise. The additional confounder that predicting the future is notoriously hard seems to not enter the discussion at all.

Translational medicine boost good for patients

Tim Lindsay and Harley Myers
Monday, 15 February, 2016
IN the lead-up to Christmas the Australian translational medicine community was given an early present as the federal government announced the formation of the $250 million Biomedical Translation Fund.
The fund, part of an overall package designed to promote innovation and entrepreneurialism, represents a welcome step towards making Australia a more hospitable place for bio-entrepreneurs. However, while the scheme is a good start, challenges remain.
For those unfamiliar with the term, biomedical translation refers to the process of converting ideas into tangible products. In essence this involves developing a base, scientific or clinical discovery, into a treatment, device, test or drug available in the clinic.

Fintech, health tech driving interest in APIs

In Australia it is still early days for the discussion around APIs as a business tool but interest is growing, says the organiser of the local APIdays conference
The increased profile of the fintech and health technology sectors in Australia is helping drive the conversation around APIs as a business tool, according to Saul Caganoff, an organiser of the local APIdays conference.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in things that are happening in the financial sector, so fintech has gained a fair amount of visibility, particularly in the local Australian environment,” said Caganoff, who is also CTO of Sixtree.
“We’ve seen a lot of initiatives coming out of federal and state government focussed on the post-mining economy and innovation,” Caganoff said.

The role of APIs in the evolving healthcare sector—Jonathan Stern, Regional VP ANZ, MuleSoft

February 14, 2016
The combination of an aging population and longer average life spans is putting increasing pressure on healthcare systems around the world. Existing facilities are struggling to cope with demand, while healthcare-related spending is consuming growing proportions of national budgets.
Advances in medical technology are contributing to the challenge with new procedures and medicines allowing treatment options that did not exist just a few years ago. While this trend is improving the quality of life for patients, it’s also adding to rising healthcare budgets and putting strains on hospital facilities.
The need for change
Confronted with these challenges, healthcare providers are looking for more efficient ways to deliver services that maximise patient outcomes while keeping spiralling costs under control.
-----, Australia’s online jobs platform for the healthcare and medical industry announced today that it has formed a partnership with HealthEngine, Australia’s largest online booking system and health marketplace, to provide medical practices access to competitive recruitment and employment services. The partnership will provide over 10,000 health practices currently registered with HealthEngine access to HealthcareLink’s platform, which has over 10,000 healthcare and medical professionals and a partnership with over 25 healthcare and medical recruitment companies nationally. The aim is to help medical practices leverage HealthcareLink’s network to find the best suited candidate for their practice as efficiently as possible. Dr Marcus Tan, CEO & Medical Director of HealthEngine, said “We are excited to bring this innovative recruitment solution to our clients, as it gives them a choice in how they source and recruit candidates for their growing practices.”
Dear colleague,
Free FPM Opioid Calculator App is here
We are writing to share with you the launch of an exciting new tool that will revolutionise your opioid prescribing practices. The Faculty of Pain Medicine, ANZCA has developed a smart phone application designed to calculate dose equivalence of opioid analgesic medications.  
The FPM Opioid Calculator app is a functional adaptation of the Opioid Dose Equivalence Table recently researched, developed and endorsed by the FPM Education Committee. Therefore you can be assured that the calculations are accurate and safe. The app provides easy accessibility and consistency to facilitate research, improve education and fill a void in availability of reference conversion data in clinical practice.  

Get a sickie note online

A new online service will issue medical certificates and repeat referrals all for the low fee of A$19.99.
The most common reasons for sick notes are heavy migraines, diarrhoea, periods, back pain, and the flu. Dr Sicknote was created to help those most in need by offering a quick, easy and simple solution to get a medical certificate for work.
Melbourne based Dr Sicknote is staffed by general practitioners (GPs) and registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA).
It’s web site stresses that it is not about people ‘chucking sickies’ in fact it actively discourages it.

My Health Record fast tracks pathology

STATE & territory health departments want to fast-track a project which would allow reports from hospital pathology labs to be uploaded to the My Health Record.
Northern Territory Health ceo Stephen Moo said this was a new initiative agreed to recently in association with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA).
NEHTA may use the Healthcare Identifiers and the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record Services technology that has been used to get specialist letters and diagnostic imaging reports into the system from Northern Territory hospitals.

EPAS Project Manager

SA, Adelaide
Posted on 17.02.2016
Peoplebank is a preferred supplier to SA Government for professional ICT contract staffing. With ongoing opportunities available in leading SA Government organisations, you will have the unique opportunity to be part of some significant projects at a state wide level.
We are currently seeking highly experienced Project Manager for a prestigious State Govt. ICT project. To be considered for this cutting edge opportunity, it is imperative that you display the following expertise…

Helping clinicians connect with patients

The MedicalDirector Clinical and PracSoft 3.16 Connect release will enable clinicians to better engage with their patients more cohesively with features that will enhance patient care and ease administrative pressures on practices.
This release is the latest addition to MedicalDirector’s annual release schedule and ensures that clinicians are provided with the most up to date features to support their practices. 
 “We are excited to be able to provide our customers with innovative features that will support the increasing demands on clinicians within the Australian health sector”, said MedicalDirector CEO, Mr Phil Offer. “Through continuous stakeholder engagement, we have built this release to further help our customers”.
The key features across both products that will help customers include:
Revamped Recalls:  A streamlined recalls and reminders workflow has reduced the number of steps required to complete this task by over 50%. This improved process also automatically records the action taken in the patient record. “Customers have reported the revamped recall process is saving their practice over 2 hours a week”, said Mr Offer.

NBN talks up ‘game-changing moment’ for HFC

NBN CTO holding discussion with CableLabs about Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1
NBN chief technology officer Dennis Steiger has hailed as a “game-changing moment” an announcement from CableLabs that it has proved the viability of full duplex communication over hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) connections using the DOCSIS 3.1 standard.
CableLabs is a US-based R&D consortium responsible for developing cable broadband standards.
“Existing technologies mostly use either Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) or Time Division Duplexing (TDD),” CableLabs said in its announcement.
With FDD upstream and downstream data is transmitted over different frequencies, while TDD involves upstream and downstream traffic taking turns over the same spectrum.

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