Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 25th July, 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

Finally we seem to have settled who is the Government and who is in that Government. Mr Ley comes back as Health Minister and I am sure will continue on as expected. Whether we see some improvements in the e-Health domain we need to just wait and see!
Other than this there is quite a bit going on so it is worth scanning down the headlines.

Appointment as Minister for Health, Aged Care & Sport

It is an honour to be reappointed as Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport.
Page last updated: 19 July 2016
18 July 2016
It is an honour to be reappointed as Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport.
The Turnbull Government has developed a bold and ambitious health reform agenda needed to deliver a first-class, universal health system and I thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to continue this important work.
This includes protecting the future of Medicare and ensuring it remains universally accessible to all Australians, as well as tackling the growing burden of chronic disease through our Health Care Homes.

Terror review to consider giving spy agencies access to mental health records, Malcolm Turnbull says

July 22, 20169:53am

Man under guard after police station attack

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he’s considering giving Australia’s spy agencies access to mental health records to help curb terrorism.
But he claims any such move would be carefully considered, acknowledging it would be a huge change to our mental health privacy system.
Mr Turnbull has asked counter-terrorism co-ordinator Greg Moriarty to conduct a review into what further measures Australia can take to protect itself in the wake of the deadly Nice attack, The Herald Sun has revealed.
Speaking to 3AW today, the Prime Minister said allowing spy agencies, including ASIO, to access mental health records was being looked at.

Ready or not here comes telehealth

Walid Jammal
Monday, 18 July, 2016
ON a recent visit to the US, it was brought home to me again how technology is transforming medical practice in a way that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.
Colleagues, professional associations and indemnity providers I spoke to were grappling with the provision of health care via telehealth and the changes that are being embraced by patients.
Imagine being able to communicate directly with patients via a secure patient portal, or electronically writing repeat prescriptions which are transmitted direct to the pharmacist. Imagine also doing a “virtual” home visit, and using a device which can transmit heart and breath sounds, and looking into the patient’s ears and throat using an adaptor attached to a smartphone.

Telehealth might be great, but you may need a soundproof room

Antony Scholefield | 19 July, 2016
The upgrade of a mental health telehealth system in SA has highlighted the reality of technology in everyday general practice; better tech is great but it may not solve all perceived problems, and may even create a few extra ones along the way.
In 2012, Country Health SA, invested $5 million to upgrade its 15-year-old analog teleconsult service that links rural patients to city-based psychiatrists.
It then asked Flinders University to investigate the benefits of the new Digital Telehealth Network (DTN) system, located in local hospitals that GPs can refer to.
The research, based on interviews and focus groups with more than 40 health worker users, found the upgrade had boosted the quality of teleconsults as it allowed for better video and audio, fewer dropouts and less lag.

Digital health: Priorities for the new ADHA

Jul 25
The new Chair for the Australian Digital Health Agency, Jim Birch AM will discuss the operation, governance as well as responsibilities and priorities for the new agency in bringing our health system into the digital century.


Jim Birch AM, Chair, Australian Digital Health Agency  
 Trustee only
 NAB Boardroom, VIC
 Lunch (12:00pm to 2:00pm)
    Contact us

Event overview

The new Australian Digital Health Agency was formed by the Australian Government to lead and provide direction in developing digital health. The agency formally opened on 1 July 2016 and will replace the National E-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA).

A suggestion to improve the tracking of stray medicines

19 July 2016

The issue

MANY patients are using medicines for which no prescription has been written within the practice.  
These might include S3, S2 and non-schedule  medicines that the GP advised the patient to use, medicines prescribed or advised outside the practice, and medicines being taken as part of a clinical trial.  
All of these types of medicines should be added to the patient’s list of current medicines to have as complete a record as possible and to facilitate quality use of medicines.  
Patients often stop taking long-term medicines for which no prescription was written.

Vic Health using Defence algorithm to predict flu outbreaks

By Paris Cowan on Jul 18, 2016 6:43AM

Fresh application for anti-bioterrorism tool.

An analytics tool developed by the Department of Defence's science and technology branch to guard against bioterrorism has found a new home in public health, thanks to a collaboration between its creators and Victoria’s health department.
EpiDefend is an algorithm created by Defence scientist Tony Lau and his team. It uses a ‘particle filtering’ technique of statistical analysis to crunch through historical data on lab-confirmed flu cases, anonymised patient data from GPs, and collections of environmental data records to predict the spread of naturally occuring influenza.
Up until now it has been used to identify organic disease outbreaks in order to differentiate them from more sinister causes, such as maliciously distributed viruses or bioterrorism.

New National Clinical Terminology Service website

Created on Thursday, 21 July 2016
The new website for the National Clinical Terminology Service (NCTS) is scheduled to launch early August 2016 and will be available at
The NCTS, operated by the Australian Digital Health Agency, is responsible for managing, developing and distributing national clinical terminology solutions such as SNOMED CT-AU and the Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT).
The NCTS also provides a range of tools and services to support the digital health requirements of the Australian healthcare community in their adoption, use and maintenance of terminology.

Reality check - reliable national data from general practice electronic health records

Deeble Institute Issues Brief No. 18
14 July 2016
Since 1998, data about general practice activity in Australia has been collected, analysed and disseminated through the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program. BEACH has provided valuable information about how general practice has changed over time, the impact of policy on practice and general practitioner (GP) professional development, and is the most reliable national source of data on GP activity. However, its cross-sectional design precludes comparison of outcomes of different approaches to care.
It is estimated that 96% of GPs currently use computers for clinical purposes. However, some GPs only use Electronic Health Records (EHR) for part of their clinical work, such as prescribing or ordering pathology tests. Others are paperless and only use EHRs, but even in these circumstances the EHRs themselves lack the structure to reliably link management actions to a patient problem. There are at least eight EHRs used in general practice, each developed independently and structured differently.

GPs double e-record uploads after PIP changes

18 July, 2016 Tessa Hoffman 
The stick-over-carrot plan to save the MyHealth Record system appears to have resulted in twice as many practices uploading shared health summaries since new e-health PIP incentives were brought in.
In April, a month before practices were required to upload shared health summaries for 0.5% of their full-time equivalent patient workload, 798 practices uploaded almost 11,000 of the documents.
In May, this had almost doubled to 1520 practices uploading some 23,000 summaries.
Dr Chris Pearce, vice-president of the Australasian College of Health Informatics (pictured), said most of these documents would be coming from GPs uploading the summaries for the first time.
Last month, the AMA called for the e-health requirements to be shelved, saying that they were an unfair impost on GPs.

From wearable technologies to digitised dissection on the internet: so many questions

Editor: Melissa Sweet Author: Deborah Lupton on: July 20, 2016In: digital technology, health and medical education
What are the implications for culturally and linguistically diverse communities of the burgeoning range of activity trackers, smart watches, health apps, and personal heart rate monitors?
These and related questions will be discussed at a seminar and consultation on Thursday, July 28, to be held in Melbourne by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, the Research Unit in Public Cultures, School of Culture and Communication at University of Melbourne and the Better Health Channel.
Journalist Marie McInerney will cover the seminar for the Croakey Conference News Service; please join her about 2pm today for a preview via a Periscope interview with Dr Ruth De Souza, the Stream Leader, Research, Policy and Evaluation at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health.

My Health Record Statistics – at 17 July 2016

Published 17 July 2016
Over 3.9 million people have a My Health Record, with an average of 1 new record being created every minute
A further 1 million people have had a My Health Record automatically created for them during the participation trials.
Over 4 million prescription and dispense records have been uploaded.
Over 8,800 healthcare providers are connected, including GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, aged care residential services, allied health.
Over 744,000 clinical upload documents.

Dashboard display of My Health Record statistics

This page contains My Health Record statistics to 17 July 2016.
Media release
Monday, 18 July 2016

Medicare: time for positive reform free of hip pocket pain

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia congratulates the Coalition Government on its re-election and welcomes the re-appointment of Sussan Ley as Minister for Health.  
“We are encouraged by Prime Minister Turnbull’s commitment to Medicare.  But we urge the Government not to shy away from the reasonable reforms needed to ensure Australia’s universal health system is sustainable in the 21st century,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said.
“In responding to the “Mediscare” campaign, the Prime Minister has said that consumers will not pay more to see their GPs because of the freeze on Medicare benefits.  He has reaffirmed ‘the faith of the Australian people in our commitment to health and to Medicare’. And a government spokesperson has also said that a GP co-payment will not be put back on the table.
“These are signals the Consumers Health Forum warmly welcomes.

Researchers more than double the number of identified brain regions with 'HD' scan

July 21 2016 - 10:37AM
·         Amy Ellis Nutt
​Scientists like to say the human brain is the most complex object in the universe — a kilogram and a half of fluid and tissue, about which we understand only a fraction.
That fraction just grew dramatically.

97 new regions of the brain discovered

Researches in the US have released the most detailed map of the human brain.
In a study published online in Nature, a team of researchers more than doubled the number of distinct areas known in the human cortex, from 83 to 180. This new map of the brain combines data from four different imaging technologies to essentially bring high-definition to brain scanning for the first time.
The immediate implications, say those familiar with the results, include the possibility of identifying biological markers for a host of neurological diseases and mental illnesses, and the new knowledge may aid neurosurgeons who need to know exactly what sort of tissue they are operating on.

No body-worn cameras for Qld paramedics

By Paris Cowan on Jul 19, 2016 11:50AM

Ambulance workers prioritise patient privacy.

Queensland Health has no plans to equip the state’s paramedics with body-worn video cameras despite serious concerns about increasing violence against ambulance workers, health minister Cameron Dick has revealed.
The Ambulance Service’s stance on the technology is in contrast to its colleagues in the Queensland Police, who are in the midst of a force-wide rollout intended to provide cops evidence gathering benefits while also discouraging violence against officers.
In an answer to a question on notice, the health minister said the technology had been investigated by a paramedic safety taskforce formed to come up with practical strategies to reverse an increase in attacks on ambulance workers, but decided against it.

How the ABS plans to use your Census name data

By Allie Coyne on Jul 22, 2016 6:43AM

Linking datasets for better policy-making, but is it legal?

In just over two weeks, Australia’s citizens will once again pick up their pens to enter their personal details in the country’s national headcount, except this time, things will be a little bit different.
For the 2016 Census on August 9, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has reversed its long-held policy not to use people’s names and addresses for the datasets it produces from the count in the hope it will be able to better inform national policy-making and decisions.
The move was met with concern by privacy advocates after it was quietly announced late last year, with even the ABS’ former statistician Bill McLennan labelling the plan “the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated on Australians by the ABS” [pdf].
But despite the pushback from sections of the community, the ABS is persevering.

Calls to put specialist fees on public website

Clare Pain | 22 July, 2016 | 
The Federal Government is sitting on masses of Medicare data that would show patients and GPs the out-of-pocket fees charged by specialists.
There are growing calls for specialist fees to be made available on a public website, as some GPs say they are battling to care for patients who cannot find specialists willing to bulk-bill or reduce out-of-pocket costs.
Former secretary of the Department of Health Dr Stephen Duckett (PhD) says it would be a simple matter for Medicare to produce a website that lists individual fees. 
“All that is required is an administrative decision to make that information available,” says Dr Duckett, who is now health program director at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne.

3 reasons Telstra Corporation Ltd shares could move higher

By Robert Stephens - July 19, 2016 | More on: TLS
Telstra Corporation Ltd’s (ASX: TLS) share price performance in 2016 has been somewhat disappointing. It is up by 2.5%, which is the same amount as the ASX, while other blue-chips such as Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) have risen by over 6%. However, I believe that there is better performance ahead for Telstra’s investors for these three key reasons.
Healthcare expansion
Since it launched Telstra Health in 2014, Telstra is no longer a pure play telecoms company. This provides it with greater diversification which in my view could lead to an increase in its intrinsic value as its risk profile and discount rate is lowered.
Further, Telstra is leveraging its existing strengths in connectivity to create new solutions in the healthcare space which I believe could act as a positive catalyst on its earnings and share price. Telstra has quickly gained a foothold in the ehealthcare space thanks to an M&A programme which has included analytics firm Dr Foster, aged care software vendor iCare Health and hospital software vendor Emerging Systems. This ‘buying in’ of growth should mean that Telstra’s investment payback period in ehealthcare is reduced somewhat and that the division has a greater impact on Telstra’s bottom line.
Additionally, those three acquisitions themselves have huge potential in my opinion to benefit from a demographic tailwind. People are living longer and technology is becoming an increasingly important part of all of our lives. Therefore, they and Telstra’s other investments in ehealthcare could produce a favourable growth curve for the company.

NSW Health renews clinical contract with MedicalDirector

This month, NSW Health extended its current contract with MedicalDirector until 2018 for the Clinical Information Access Portal (CIAP).
CIAP provides evidence-based clinical decision support resources to assist NSW public healthcare practitioners make the right decisions at the point of care. Clinical resources now include UpToDate and a broad range of resources covering clinical areas, including aged care, emergency care, maternity, mental health, oncology, pharmacy, paediatrics, and rehabilitation.
“We are extremely pleased that our partnership with NSW Health and CIAP will continue. Over the past 20 years we have worked with NSW Health to provide the best available clinical information resources via CIAP and we look forward to continuing to provide NSW health practitioners with key resources that can assist them in their profession”, said Ms Allison Hart, MedicalDirector’s Manager of Publishing and Knowledge.

Meridian IT deploys Lenovo servers for eHealth NSW

By Samira Sarraf
Jul 18 2016 5:30AM
Managed services provider Meridian IT has been selected to provide eHealth NSW with Lenovo servers in a contract worth $847,000.
Meridian IT will deploy Lenovo x3850 X6 rack servers, originally part of IBM's System x range, to the NSW Government Data Centres.
The recently updated NSW Data Centre Reform Strategy, first adopted in December 2013, dictates a consolidation of all NSW government agencies' data centres into the Government Data Centres' two facilities in Silverwater and Wollongong. This plan supports the delivery of as-a-service adopted across the agencies.

NBN HFC network rollout buys tick of approval from Ovum

NBN Co is standing tall on the rollout of its HFC network, which will ultimately deliver broadband services to more than three million premises across Australia, after commissioning an endorsement of HFC by global analyst firm Ovum.
Ovum’s endorsement of HFC as part of the technology mix — “NBN Co and Australia’s broadband users can have great confidence that as broadband requirements continue to grow, the HFC network will be more than capable of meeting expectations” — is an attempt by NBN Co to answer the constant criticism and concerns about which technologies will deliver not only the best quality services, but also very high speeds.
However, many of NBN Co's detractors are likely to be sceptical of the paid report.
The analyst firm was commissioned by NBN Co to provide it with an overview of global hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) evolution, the market environment and technology enhancements.

CIO Explainer: What is Artificial Intelligence?

Wide-scale adoption by business may be approaching, with important implications for how people live and work.

By  Steven Norton
Jul 18, 2016 7:32 pm ET
Artificial intelligence is approximating human reasoning more and more closely all the time. Wide-scale adoption by business may be approaching, with important implications for how people live and work.
AI is paving the way for new business models and raising questions about how people and machines can best work together. Now, thanks in part to cheaper and faster computing power, intelligent machines help doctors comb through troves of medical images to identify diseases early, allow manufacturers to predict when their machines will break (and fix them before that happens), and provide the “brains” behind increasingly autonomous vehicles. It’s also playing a central role in the consumer market, powering the latest virtual assistant, for example, or the engine that matches Airbnb guests with the housing they want.
International Data Corp. predicts the worldwide market for cognitive software platforms and applications, which roughly defines the market for AI, to grow to $16.5 billion in 2019 from $1.6 billion in 2015 with a CAGR of 65.2%. The market includes offerings from both established tech giants and AI startups.

Nano solution to information overload

  • The Australian
  • 1:00AM July 19, 2016

John Ross

Scientists have fashioned the world’s smallest hard disk, ushering a new era of data storage in which every book ever written could be contained on a gadget the size of a 20-cent piece.
Dutch and Portuguese researchers say their “kilobyte atomic memory”, revealed in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could solve the storage problems posed by the generation of more than a billion gigabytes of new information every day.
The rewritable device stores the equivalent of a news story in a space one-thousandth the size of a needle tip. Pound for pound, it can hold around 1000 times as much information as current hard disks and flash drives.
“In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created to be written on a single post stamp,” said team leader Sander Otte of Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.

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