Monday, August 22, 2016

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 22nd August, 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

Seems like the recurrent theme is Government IT and the various problems it is having all over the place. The Department of Human Services and Health seem to have pretty frequent issues. The hope is the better governance from ADHA might help.

My Health Record: Medics speak up

By Marie Sansom on August 15, 2016
My Health Record: Medics speak up
As the new trials of the My Health Record roll out in Queensland, NSW, WA and Victoria, Government News asks clinicians what might help – or hinder – the progress of the revamped national individual electronic health record.
A bit of history
The idea of a national individual electronic health record has been around for decades, routinely popping up in report recommendations from government health agencies.
It was an idea former Prime Minister John Howard helped spread and one the National Electronic Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) was set up to drive in 2005.
Labour introduced the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) in 2012 after two years of GP trials.
But from its inception, the electronic health record has been dogged with problems and fraught with complexities and it still has not had the uptake needed to fulfil the vision of a concise patient record available in an emergency.

My Health Record 'dumb and useless': Australian Privacy Foundation

Forget last week's Census debacle. Far more has been spent on an e-health system with little clinical value and fewer than 17 percent of Australians on board.
By Stilgherrian for The Full Tilt | August 19, 2016 -- 04:59 GMT (14:59 AEST) | Topic: Security
"My Health Record (MHR) is not yet a f*** up because hardly anybody's using it, [but] it's a f*** up in terms of how much money the government has spent, and how little they've got for that expenditure," Dr Bernard Robertson-Dunn, who chairs the health committee of the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF), said.
"It's cost AU$2 billion so far, it's costing over AU$400 million every year, but the government has never told us how it has improved health care or reduced health costs. All it is doing is putting patient data at risk."
With the Census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was trying to do the right thing, but got it "somewhat wrong", Robertson-Dunn told ZDNet earlier this week. However, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) is trying to make access to MHR easier, the data is far more intrusive, and it's continually collecting data, as opposed to the Census' five-year cycle.

Porter questions repairs to NDIS bungle

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM August 20, 2016

Michael Owen

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has criticised the ­National ­Disability Insurance Agency’s handling of a technology bungle that has dented confidence in the government’s ability to smoothly roll out a landmark scheme for the most vulnerable.
This comes as audit firm PwC, hired by the Turnbull government for about $350,000, works to complete a review of the new MyPlace payment portal used by the N­DIA.
The IT system, designed and built in-house by the Department of Human Services, is blamed for some providers being left unpaid and some people being ­unable to access services, sending the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme into disarray.
Mr Porter yesterday said he had commissioned a “short, sharp report” and The Weekend Aus­tralian understands its interim findings suggest the main problems appear to be around communication from the NDIA providing the right information to providers and participants, and offering sufficient help.

GP gives MyAgedCare's two-calls policy a fail

Antony Scholefield | 19 August, 2016 | 
MyAgedCare staff always ring twice, but only twice, according to a GP who says the call centre’s “two attempts” policy for contacting elderly patients is inadequate.
The MyAgedCare system was lauched last year to improve access to support services for some of Australia's most vulnerable patients.
However, it has been mired in controversy, with claims that web referrals by GPs often go missing, resulting in delays in patients being assessed for the care they need.
It has now emerged that staff make only two attempts to contact each elderly client after a GP referral from an aged care assessment.

A little more detail could vastly improve health summaries

15 August 2016
MEDICAL specialists, hospital staff­ and others who receive referrals and health summaries from GPs complain that the list of medicines often contains some that the patient is no longer using, and that the indication for each medicine is not stated.
The health summaries produced by most clinical software packages list current medicines alphabetically, which is probably the least useful order, and don’t enable users to include medicines that have been tried or used previously. The Best Practice software package allows past prescriptions to be inserted, but this is a simple chronological list of every occasion on which each of those past medicines was prescribed or re-prescribed, and it does not include medicines for which no prescription was generated within the practice.

Is this the e-health game-changer GPs are looking for?

Antony Scholefield | 16 August, 2016 |
The Holy Grail of software development for years has been to allow doctors to easily share information between healthcare facilities and systems.
The government has tried to solve the problem with its MyHealth Record scheme, which uses a standardised language called the SNOMED Clinical Terms – Australia (SNOMED CT-AU).  
But another solution is to map existing software interfaces to SNOMED, so doctors can stick with their current software, but still download patient information that was uploaded on different software, with SNOMED acting as a digital translator.
Now MedicalDirector has pledged to map SNOMED onto its next generation practice system software, called Helix.
  • August 19 2016 - 1:08PM

Doctors warn over diagnosis apps amid Ada launch

Julia Medew

It is marketed as being "smarter than human doctors" and the "world's most accurate health diagnosis service".
It is a medical app on your smartphone that invites you to put in a list of symptoms to find the most likely explanation. According to the company that created Ada, the app includes 10,000 symptoms and diseases and was developed by 100 doctors, making it more knowledgeable than any human brain.  
But for all its promises, leading Australian GPs are urging consumers to be wary of it and other apps that make similar claims. Both the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of GPs said they were concerned about the accuracy of the Ada system, and its potential to either falsely reassure people about their health or alarm them unnecessarily.
Despite a booming market for health apps, including ones that aim to diagnose, research suggests they may not be as reliable as they appear.  

Talking about the next generation

15 August, 2016 
Posted by julie lambert
Healthcare technologies that seamlessly connect devices and data in secure networks are closer than we think
China, Apple, Google and the most plugged-in patients in history are racing towards a new day where medical devices can speak to one another in an “internet of things”, pick up clinical errors and feed data into health records.
Doctors and health IT experts are also looking forward to a better time – one where someone comes up with a plan for assuring the safety and security of the data-driven, interconnected, tech-heavy health system we have today.
Todd Cooper, an international authority on health IT, says rapid advances in connectivity are being driven by pressure from manufacturers in China and India, plus a surge of activity in Big Data and analytics, with IBM, Apple and others entering the fray.

Australia to play role in IBM cognitive eye health project

By Ry Crozier on Aug 19, 2016 6:56AM

Interns recruited into global effort.

Researchers at IBM Australia will play a role in building a “cognitive assistant” the IT giant hopes will help ophthalmologists diagnose eye conditions from medical image data.
The company recruited a batch of research interns to lend their expertise to the project via the IBM Australia research lab in Melbourne. The interns were slated to begin work last month.
“IBM research is building the next generation cognitive assistant with advanced multi-media capability for early detection and management of diseases that can affect both the eyes and overall health of a person,” the firm said in a now closed advertisement.
“We are building the image-guided informatics system that acts as a filter to extract the essential clinical information ophthalmologists need to know about a patient for diagnosis and treatment planning.
  • Updated Aug 19 2016 at 6:17 PM

He makes 3D skull and bone implants but now he's in pain

A pioneering maker of 3D printed skull and bone implants held up as a beacon of innovation by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the government's actions don't match its rhetoric and are blocking his company's growth.
Melbourne neurosurgeon Paul d'Urso founded Anatomics 20 years ago to make customised 3D print cranial implants. With the advent of new, stronger materials such as powdered titanium Anatomics he has expanded the range to load bearing spinal, heel and ribcage implants, hips and shoulders. 
The company now exports to 30 countries. It made a custom sternum and ribcage for a cancer patient in Salamanca, Spain, last year and created a heel implant to save the leg of a cancer patient. Its implants are distributed in Germany by B Braun. 

ResMed launches app for CPAP users to track sleep apnea treatment

August 18, 2016
For those who wear continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks -- which help people with sleep apnea maintain steady, regular breathing while asleep – a new app is designed to help support device users and improve adherence. With myAir, an offering from medical device company ResMed, CPAP users can now track their treatment via an iOS app, giving users access to their daily sleep patterns and coaching tips.
The app provides contextual information-based coaching on how to improve their therapy through videos, emails and encouragement along the way. A user would put on the CPAP mask at night, then log in to the app the next morning to get their “myAir score”, based on a scale of one to 100, that comprises different elements of therapy – how long they slept on CPAP, how many apneas (pauses in breathing) they had per hour and how well their CPAP mask fit.
19 Aug 2016 - 5:40pm

No halt to Medicare outsource work issued

No action has been taken to stop a Medicare outsourcing project, the health department has revealed in reply to a freedom-of-information request.
Source:  AAP 19 Aug 2016 - 5:40 PM  UPDATED YESTERDAY 5:40 PM
A private firm has not been told to stop work on a $5 million taxpayer-funded contract to manage the outsourcing of the Medicare payments system.
Labor leader Bill Shorten campaigned heavily during the election on the issue of Turnbull government plans to "privatise" Medicare.
Labor's claim was based on several factors, including a contract given to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to oversee the outsourcing of the $50 billion-a-year payments system.

Digital Advisory Board replaces National Health IT Board

Ministry of Health creates Digital Advisory Board
The Ministry of Health has scrapped it National Health IT Board, replacing it with a Digital Advisory Board.
The NHITB web site says the DAB held its first meeting on 12 August, where governance arrangements, terms of reference and the future of the advisory groups that currently support the NHITB were among the items considered.
The DAB will provide strategic direction, monitor the overall portfolio of sector IT investments, review significant business cases and assess new technologies.
“We will be updating the NHITB website to reflect our new direction. In the interim, we will continue using this website to provide updates and information on the Ministry’s digital health work programme and the single electronic health record,” the site said.

Digital lives of older Australians

4 August 2016
Owning Institution: 
This research snapshot aims to explore the levels of online engagement of older Australians (those aged 65 and over). It examines various measures of digital engagement, including internet access, frequency and location of internet use, as well as the devices used to access the internet and the activities undertaken online. This snapshot also discusses differences in demographic profiles of older internet users and non-users.
The importance of the digital literacy of older Australians has been recognised by the Australian Government. The Government has committed to invest $50 million to ensure that senior Australians will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to improve their safety online and allow them to participate in the modern digital economy.
15 August 2016

Privacy is for doctors too

Authored by Dr Aniello Iannuzzi
PRIVACY is a paradox of modern society, which is immersed in more information than ever before.
While millions of us appear to be addicted to sharing personal information online, the concept of privacy is still closely guarded. Technology and the law have had to erect privacy walls to protect us from ourselves. There are even international conferences on privacy.
Three topics in our professional lives brought home to me how important privacy has become for practising doctors.
17 August, 2016

Communication as medicine

Posted by Julie Lambert
A US trial of sharing notes online with patients has evolved into a national movement
US experiment in doctors sharing visit notes with patients via an online portal suggests transparency is very good medicine – and not just for well-informed, tech-savvy white folks.
Like many Australian GPs eyeing the arrival of patient-controlled electronic health records, the American primary-care doctors participating in the OpenNotes program had a host of reservations, mainly about the impact on work flow.
But while their misgivings were borne out in just a handful of cases, the benefits were consistently strong, according to Dr Sigall Bell, the program’s director of discovery and patient safety, who presented the findings at last month’s Health Informatics Conference in Melbourne.

Govt releases billion-line 'de-identified' health dataset

By Paris Cowan on Aug 15, 2016 12:26PM

Medicare claims dating back to 1984 available online.

The Department of Health has released a huge tranche of de-identified Medicare and PBS claims dating back to 1984, in an effort to help researchers identify pain points in the public health system.
The dataset, which is made up of 1 billion lines of historical data dating back over 30 years, records claims made for visits to doctors, pathologists, imaging services and allied health professionals, and covers about 10 percent of the national population (3 million people).
It is now available to download from the website.

Medicare, PBS data release a healthy step says Consumers Health Forum

16 August 2016Media release
The release of de-identified health data offers great potential to advance research showing how Australia can deliver better health care more cost effectively, the Consumers Health Forum says.
The Department of Health has released one billion items of Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme records which will facilitate research into the performance of the health system.  The release will enable researchers to study linkages between Medicare and PBS claims for a random 10 per cent sample of Australians.
“The data recorded by Medicare and the PBS represent a treasure trove of information that has previously been difficult for researchers to access.   When these de-identified records of both medical services and medicine prescriptions are linked they can yield a population-wide picture of what care has been delivered, patterns of service provision and  the relationship between medical services provided and medication utilisation,’’ the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said.
19 August, 2016

One billion lines of historical health data released

Posted by Felicity Nelson
The Department of Health’s release of a billion lines of de-identified historical health records has generated much excitement but also some concern within the medical profession
The records, released online on 1 August, include linked, individual Medicare and PBS claims relating to approximately three million Australians.
The data has been drawn from a random sample of 10% of Australians and date from 1984 to 2014 for Medicare data and 2003 to 2014 for PBS data.
The linked data will allow researchers to track the drugs obtained by individuals and follow medical services accessed by those same individuals over time.


You could be Qld Health's first-ever digital strategy chief

By Allie Coyne on Aug 17, 2016 4:46PM

Two new deputies to report into CIO.

The technology arm of Queensland's Health department has put out the call for its first-ever chief digital strategy officer, one of two new deputies that will report into acting CIO Mal Thatcher.
The new eHealth Queensland executive will "drive and optimise digital strategy" and will be responsible for "enterprise information assets," according to a job ad.
"eHealth Queensland is going through significant organisational change. This is a new role and one that will be drawing together functions from across the organisation," it said in a job ad.
"The CDO champions the use of digital solutions in business model design, and all aspects of the business to create business success."

Why this year’s Census might still be a privacy nightmare

The Australian 2016 Census has sparked consternation among privacy advocates
Nikolai Hampton (Computerworld) 12 August, 2016 09:39
The 2016 Census has made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. But the inability of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and its tech partner, IBM, to keep the website online is not the only controversy surrounding this year's Census, explains security researcher Nikolai Hampton.
The Australian 2016 Census has sparked much debate and consternation among privacy advocates and security professionals alike. At the core of these concerns is a move by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (the ABS) to link census records to other data.
The mechanism proposed for linking records and data is a 'random looking' Statistical Linkage Key. We have been told that the linkage key is secure and will be 'hashed' to make it irreversible — but what exactly does that mean, and how does it secure your data?
Statistical Linkage Keys or SLKs have been used frequently by people doing data research, it provides some very basic anonymity, and a sanity check on the data while retaining a way of identifying an individual throughout a study.

Far reaching consequences of ABS/IBM census debacle: analysts

16 August 2016
Owning Institution: 
Investigations are continuing into what went wrong at the Australian Bureau of Statistics over the botched online census. But there's fresh scrutiny of the computer giant IBM, which has been blamed for failing to take adequate pre-emptive steps to deal with the denial of service attack. IT industry analysts say the fallout from the census debacle will be far reaching, and could open up the field for tech providers vying for lucrative government contracts.
  • August 16 2016 - 7:17AM

Virtual reality trip inside cancer cells can help design better chemotherapy drugs

Marcus Strom
Gaming technology is allowing cancer researchers to imagine – and interact with – cells in a mind-blowing new way.
In a fantastic voyage to the scale of a single cell, scientists can now observe the virtual interaction of therapeutic drugs as they penetrate the very membranes of those cells.
"As well as the obvious educational role this can play, it has the potential to allow cancer researchers to see their data in a new way, which can help them design better nanotherapies," said John McGhee​ at the University of NSW.
Dr McGhee is director of the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab at UNSW's school of art and design in Paddington. He has harnessed the data from a high-resolution scan of a breast cancer cell to construct a virtual world using technology straight from the gaming industry. He took the data from a University of Queensland scan and built it into a 3D mesh where designers in his lab added colour, lighting, texture and animation.
  • August 16 2016 - 7:53AM

Putting a computer in your brain is no longer science fiction

Elizabeth Dwoskin

Like many in Silicon Valley, technology entrepreneur Bryan Johnson sees a future in which intelligent machines can do things like drive cars on their own and anticipate our needs before we ask.
What's uncommon is how Johnson wants to respond: Find a way to supercharge the human brain so that we can keep up with the machines.
KerNEL's chip will work by predicting the memory recall function a healthy brain would make and replicating it inside a damaged or diseased brain. 
From an unassuming office in Venice Beach, his science-fiction-meets-science start-up, KerNEL, is building a tiny chip that can be implanted in the brain to help people suffering from neurological damage caused by strokes, Alzheimer's, or concussions. The team of top neuroscientists building the chip — they call it a neuroprosthetic — hope that in the longer term, it will be able to boost intelligence, memory, and other cognitive tasks.

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