Monday, September 05, 2016

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 05th September, 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

It seems it is becoming a case of another week, another Health IT related stuff up emerges. This time the IT supporting the NDIS seems to have been badly done and failed to work properly!
Otherwise all sorts of news for the week. It will be interesting to see how the Government goes getting the legislation for the planned Cancer Registry passed given its small majority.

Free open course to help doctors join the eHealth revolution

30 August 2016
University of Sydney launches first dedicated health MOOC
Australia is in the midst of an eHealth revolution and medical practitioners who don't adopt new technology in their healthcare delivery risk being left behind, according to a University of Sydney expert.
"eHealth isn't going to replace clinicians, but it will replace clinicians who don't use it," said Inaugural Professor in eHealth, Tim Shaw, from the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Professor Shaw is leading the University of Sydney's first dedicated health-related Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a free and accessible primer aimed at encouraging medical practitioners to integrate eHealth into their clinical care.
Launched on 29 August, the eHealth MOOC is run through the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Health Sciences, drawing on cross-disciplinary expertise and real-world case studies from across the University.
31 Aug 2016 - 6:08am

New national cancer register planned

Health Minister Sussan Ley says a new national cancer screening register will help save lives through increased detection, treatment and prevention.
AAP  31 Aug 2016 - 6:08 AM  UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO
A new national cancer screening register is planned to replace eight separate state and territory cervical cancer registers, and an outdated and fragmented bowel screening system.
Health Minister Sussan Ley says that will save more lives through increased detection, treatment and prevention.
Ms Ley will introduce the National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 in the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning.

National Cancer Register aims to save lives

31 Aug 2016, 12:59 p.m.
A new National Cancer Screening Register aimed at saving lives through increased detection, treatment and prevention of some of the country’s biggest killers will be the focus of legislation introduced by the Turnbull Government as one its first priorities in the new Parliament.
Health Minister, Sussan Ley, will introduce the National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 to establish a new national register, which will replace eight separate State and Territory cervical cancer registers and an outdated and fragmented bowel screening system.
The new innovative measures are designed to ensure Australia remains a world leader in the early detection of cancers to save more lives.
Ms Ley said the legislation would benefit the health of Australians through more efficient cervical and bowel screening pathways through the establishment of a national register to monitor the effectiveness, quality and safety of screening and diagnoses associated with bowel cancer and cervical cancer.

Prescription overdose deaths continue to climb

Organisations are again calling for real-time prescription monitoring across the nation to combat the alarming figures

The Penington Institute has released Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2016 and its findings reveal a significant rise in overdose deaths over the past decade.
A snapshot of the results shows that:
  • Prescription opioids are the primary drug for people who overdose;
  • Between 2008 and 2014, there was an 87% increase in prescription opioid deaths, with the greatest increase in rural Australia (148% increase);
  • Drug overdose deaths in people aged 40-49 have almost doubled between 2004 and 2014;
  • In 2014, people aged 30-59 accounted for 78% of all overdose deaths;
  • In 2014, numbers of overdose deaths were significantly higher in rural and regional areas than in metropolitan areas; and
  • Men accidentally overdose at nearly twice the rate of women.
“These figures challenge the conventional wisdom that it is young urban people who are most at risk of dying of overdose in Australia,” says the institute’s CEO John Ryan.

80,000 people suffer pay crisis in Canada after IBM system debacle

By freelance correspondent Susan Delacourt in Ottawa
No-one in Canada can accuse public servants of being overpaid these days.
Key points:
  • The crisis affects 80,000 employees or almost one third of Canada's federal public servants
  • IBM provided the payroll system for Queensland Health, and the severs for Australia's census
  • Bureaucrat responsible says 'the system is working'
Thanks to a massive breakdown of the Federal Government's new, privatised pay system, tens of thousands of Canadian public servants have been going weeks, even months with reduced pay — or in many cases, no pay at all.
It is a crisis on a huge scale for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new Government, and the cause of thousands of crises on an individual level, with people forced to borrow money or max out their credit cards to make ends meet.

MedAdvisor in competitor takeover

  • The Australian
  • 10:10AM August 31, 2016

David Swan

ASX-listed digital medical start-up MedAdvisor is acquiring Melbourne-based rival Healthnotes for $5.5 million, a move it says will boost its share of connected community pharmacies to more than 2,400.
MedAdvisor, which allows patients to manage their prescriptions and medications through an app, said the acquisition will be funded via a total cash consideration of $3.3 million, paid as 60 per centcash and 40 per cent scrip, with the balance to be paid through the issue of new MedAdvisor shares to Healthnotes’ shareholders.
CEO Rob Read told The Australian the takeover wold significantly enhance the rate of its entry into the GP market, and give it about a 45 per cent market share.

Media Invitation - Launch of Improvement Foundation’s New Patient Data Platform powered by Telstra Health

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 - Improvement Foundation
Australian health services are now able to obtain real time health data from disparate primary and secondary healthcare software systems, transforming the way that data is collected and accessed from medical software systems.
The Improvement Foundation, Australia’s leading provider of quality improvement solutions for the healthcare sector, have joined forces with Telstra Health, Australia’s biggest digital health company, to release Elicio.
Rather than having to rely on traditional data extraction software to extract and analyse data from medical software systems, Elicio will directly collect and aggregate real time data from general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, radiology and aged care software systems, providing clinicians with a view of their patients’ health journey beyond their own health service.

Australian Mesothelioma Registry ‘out of date, biased’

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM August 31, 2016

Sean Parnell

A national register of asbestos-related disease — meant to guide government policy — is under a cloud after a damning review ­ordered by health and safety authorities.
Safe Work Australia commissioned consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, which had its roots in 1980 and was re-established in 2010 with the support of various federal, state and territory government agencies and health organisations.
The review, dated June this year and obtained by The Aus­tralian under Freedom of Information laws, found the register used methods that ensured its data holdings were not only small — only 16.5 per cent of all mesothelioma cases — but most likely biased.
Researchers also had difficulty accessing the full data set — some reported delays of several years, while one project was forced to rely on an incomplete data set — and policymakers might see little value in the registry. “The AMR collects exposure data from patients who have ­recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, which provides information on exposures that generally occurred more than 30 years ago,” the review states.
  • Opinion
  • Updated Aug 30 2016 at 12:15 AM

Smart technologies can fix our bleeding healthcare system

by Rob Grenfell
Our planet's population is ageing. The average global life expectancy of a child born in 1900 was just 31 years, compared to about 71 today. In Australia the number of people aged over 65 is expected to increase from around 2.5 million in 2002 to 6.2 million in 2042. That is, from around 13 per cent of the population to around 25 per cent.
Although one of medicine's biggest achievements, the demands an ageing population will place on Australia's current model of healthcare is arguably the biggest challenge we face today. Now sitting at 9 per cent of GDP, CSIRO megatrends research shows that healthcare spending will soak up all of Australia's tax take well before the end of the century if it continues to grow at its present rate. In summary, if our spending on health continues on the same trajectory Australia will be broke within one lifetime.
Targeting health services to assist the chronically ill and ageing population, which accounted for more than 70 per cent of Australia's $103.6 billion health expenditure during 2007-2008, can help to reduce the load on our health system and hospitals.

Telehealth could save healthcare system $3 billion, says CSIRO

Australia’s first large-scale trial of telehealth has shown that the healthcare system could save up to $3 billion a year, according to the CSIRO which trialled telehealth systems with 287 patients over a 12-month period.
The research, undertaken by the CSIRO together with partners, showed savings of 24% over the year to the healthcare system made through falls in the number and cost of GP visits, specialist visits and procedures.
CSIRO lead researcher Dr Rajiv Jayasena said the trial enabled patients with chronic diseases to self-manage their conditions at home through the provision of telehealth services.

Your pharmacist is being replaced by a robot

Antony Scholefield | 30 August, 2016 | 
The good news for pharmacists is that robots aren’t going to start taking their jobs in the future. The bad news is they’re taking their jobs right now.
Recent media reports have asked whether robots can fully replace pharmacists in filling GP prescriptions. And the evidence is in: they can.
Computers already process prescriptions, restock products, maintain dispensing records and monitor alerts for potential drug-drug and drug-disease interactions.
Further, one big benefit of having machines do this work, rather than humans, is that they are much more accurate at it, according to John Koot, managing director of Willach Pharmacy Solutions in Australia.

Bio-terrorism algorithm forecasting flu outbreaks

12 July 2016
An algorithm developed by Defence scientists to detect bio-terrorism is now being used by the Victorian Health Department as an influenza forecasting tool. 
The tool can accurately predict flu outbreaks up to eight weeks in advance, giving the public health system a better chance to minimise the impact of the outbreak.
The system is now also being experimentally deployed across NSW and QLD and Defence scientist Tony Lau says the aim is to get it operational across most of Australia in time for next year’s flu forecasting season.

CSIRO facilitates ‘intelligent’ training tech for medical students

The CSIRO has launched the first project in a new early-career researcher grant programme for small and medium businesses (SMEs) funded through through the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) STEM+ Business Fellowship programme.
The first project involves researcher Dr James Zhang from Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation working with Melbourne-based software company YTEK to develop advanced training tools for surgeons, emergency workers, soldiers and pilots.
Dr Zhang will work closely with YTEK to research machine-learning algorithms that will intelligently monitor and evaluate a trainee’s conduct in mission-critical simulations. Using sensors on training tools, such as manikins, the software will help trainers to assess students in practical training and accreditation, and see individual and group performance.
  • August 29 2016 - 9:10AM

Federal government's 'digital identity' plans slammed by privacy advocates

Rae Johnston

"Digital Identity is having the ability for the government to trust that you are who you say you are," is the explanation the federal government's Digital Transformation Office (DTO) gives for the establishment of a singular digital profile that will allow you to access various government services.
But trust has to go both ways, and the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) has expressed "serious concern" about federated identity, stating the process has been "seriously deficient" and conducted "in a context of increasing distrust of government" (Census, anyone?).
The DTO says the global trend of services moving online, and the economic benefits that produces, necessitates an online identity verification process — particularly in cases of sensitive data.
"Currently users have to identify themselves again and again when they interact with different government departments, and we want to find a solution that fixes this problem," the DTO states.

Call to use existing networks to skill CALD seniors for e-health services

By Natasha Egan on September 2, 2016 in Industry, Technology
As digital health services become mainstream there are opportunities to improve care and support for culturally and linguistically diverse seniors, but low levels of digital and health literacy mean they risk missing out, a provider says.
Telehealth and e-health are no longer in trial mode but are fast becoming part of the way older people are looked after in this country, according to Stelvio Vido, CEO of Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, which provides services including aged care to migrants and refugees in Melbourne.
Cultural norms, language and low rates of health literacy are among the barriers to older Australians from a CALD background accessing aged care services, Mr Vido said. Enabling this group to share in the benefits of ehealth and telehealth required improving their health literacy as well as their digital and e-health literacy, he added.

MyPlace roll-out should have been staged, says minister

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM August 30, 2016

Michael Owen

A staged transition of a new computer system and preparation for inevitable glitches would have saved parents of disabled children and their therapists from frustrating disruptions to the $22 billion National Disability ­Insurance Scheme, Assistant Disabilities Minister Jane Prentice says.
Ms Prentice, the minister ultimately responsible for managing the ­operational side of the NDIS, has just finished another round of meetings across the country as the federal government scrambles to restore faith in an ambitious national rollout that involves ­assessing and approving individual plans for 430,000 ­people during the next three years.
Ms Prentice and Social Services Minister Christian Porter earlier this month were forced to commission a review by PwC into the flawed new MyPlace payment portal used by the National ­Disability Insurance Agency, blamed for some providers being left unpaid and some people ­unable to access services since June.
  • September 4 2016 - 12:00AM

NDIS online failures due to under-preparation and time pressures: PwC report

Matthew Raggatt

An independent review into the NDIS portal failure that led thousands of participants to have payments fail or be delayed has found the national rollout was under-prepared and went live before it was ready.
The PwC report was released on Friday as federal, state and territory ministers agreed the Commonwealth would establish an independent complaints and serious incidents system to speed up help to those with a disability.
The review into the mass failures since the myplace online portal went live on July 1 found the information and communications technology implementation "ran out of time" to fully complete necessary activities and proceeded knowing there were risks of serious problems.

Practices Lag On E-Health Registrations

15 Aug 2016
Medical practices and private hospitals are lagging well behind patients in registering with the Federal Government’s My Health Record system.
Health Minister Sussan Ley has hailed figures showing almost four million people, roughly 17 per cent of all Australians now have a My Health Record after an average of 2200 a day joined the scheme last month.
Ms Ley said it meant that more and more patients and health professionals were able to gain immediate access to important health information online.
“This can improve co-ordinated care outcomes, reduce duplication and provide vital information in emergency situations,” the Minister said. “It also enables us, as a consumer, to become more active in managing your health and provide links between the multiple services many of us may need through our lives.”

Sixth Interim Report (Big health data: Australia's big potential)

Sixth interim report

Big health data: Australia's big potential

4 May 2016
© Commonwealth of Australia 2016
ISBN 978-1-76010-367-5
View the report as a single document - (PDF 1236KB)

Mind-controlled nanorobots to deliver drug doses

  • Tom Whipple
  • The Times
  • 12:00AM August 29, 2016
What’s cooler than using a nano-robot to deliver drugs deep inside your body? Using a mind-controlled nanorobot to deliver drugs, of course.
Scientists have developed tiny robots that can operate inside a living creature as part of a system that releases drugs in response to human thought. It is hoped more sophisticated robots could one day offer highly targeted drugs for psychological conditions such as depression or ADHD.
One of the difficulties of drug delivery is getting it to the right place at the right time. Most drugs enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body — even if only needed in a specific place. There have been attempts to ­improve this, promisingly by “DNA origami” structures.

Implant technology: I’ve got you, and lots of data, under my skin

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM August 30, 2016

Chris Griffith

I’m convinced that as implanted memory technology matures there will be no shortage of humans becoming cyborgs. Last week I met a group who already have augmented their human capabilities with implants injected under the skin. And they’re willing to go further.
At last week’s inaugural conference of the “DYI Cyborg Movement in Australia”, they enthusiastically offered me their contact details by waving their hands under the NFC receptor on my phone. One wave brought up the Pokemon Go app, obviously a cyborg party joke.
If given the opportunity, the same people would wave their hands over payment terminals at supermarkets, use their hands to tap on and off at train stations, or to enter their workplace. No fobs, plastic access cards, credit cards or remote controls needed.
There are so many levels to this technology. On one level, this is a cheerful consumer affairs story where we can discard fantastic plastic and other ID to transact with our hands through the day.
29 August 2016

Clarifying end-of-life law for doctors

Authored by
Ben White
Lindy Willmott
Penny Neller
MEDICAL treatment decisions, particularly in life and death situations, are a moral, ethical and legal challenge confronted by many medical practitioners daily.
Uncertainty is undesirable about whether an advance directive should be followed, which family member to turn to for a decision about life-sustaining treatment, or whether it is legal to give more morphine to a dying patient, and this can leave doctors feeling potentially at risk and isolated.
However, a new online resource is now available to help practitioners with the answers to these dilemmas.
We developed the End of Life Law in Australia website at the Australian Centre for Health Law Research, at the Queensland University of Technology, to support medical practitioners, other health professionals, lawyers, policy makers, patients, families and the broader community to know, understand and navigate the complexities of the law at end of life.

Robot babies don’t reduce teen pregnancies

Electronic baby dolls which are designed to simulate the “real experience” of having an infant don’t work to cut teen pregnancy rates, say Australian researchers, published in The Lancet. In fact, the researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute at the University of Western Australia found that teenage girls who used the dolls as part of a pregnancy prevention program were more, not less, likely to become pregnant. Similar programs are reportedly delivered in 89 countries, and the authors of this Australian trial warn that the intervention is likely to be an ineffective use of public funds to prevent teenage pregnancy. The Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) program is an Australian adaptation of the United States program RealityWorks (often referred to as “Baby Think It Over”). The VIP program is delivered in schools and includes educational sessions, a workbook, watching a video documentary of teenage mothers talking about their experiences, and caring for an infant simulator over the weekend. The infant simulator is a doll that cries when it needs to be fed, burped, rocked or changed and measures and reports on mishandling, crying time, the number of changes and general care.

Instagram photos can spot depression before diagnosis

Instagram spots clues to depression.
  • James Dean
  • The Times
  • 8:41AM August 30, 2016
Instagram photographs contain clues that the person posting them is depressed, according to research.
Artificial intelligence designed to detect depressed people on the photo-sharing network was more accurate than doctors and spotted several cases of depression before it was diagnosed.
Scientists designed software to identify features of depression from face detection, colour and brightness analysis, and the data that accompanied Instagram images.
They also examined the use of photographic filters, which are a feature of Instagram. Depressed individuals were less likely to use filters, the researchers found. Those who did opted for “Inkwell”, which converts colour photos to black and white. Healthy individuals preferred “Valencia”, which lightens tints.

Scientists look at how A.I. will change our lives by 2030

Transportation, education, home security will all be affected by smart machines
Sharon Gaudin (Computerworld (US)) 03 September, 2016 02:13
By the year 2030, artificial intelligence (A.I.) will have changed the way we travel to work and to parties, how we take care of our health and how our kids are educated.
That’s the consensus from a panel of academic and technology experts taking part in Stanford University’s One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence.
Focused on trying to foresee the advances coming to A.I., as well as the ethical challenges they’ll bring, the panel yesterday released its first study.

40% of Australian organisations not prepared for malicious insiders

August 29, 2016
Mimecast Limited (NASDAQ: MIME), a leading email and data security company, released new data revealing that organisations believe they are their own worst enemy when it comes to cybersecurity, with 40 percent saying they are ill-equipped to cope with the threat of malicious insiders and twice as many, 91 percent, calling malicious insiders a major threat to the organisations’ security.
Mimecast initially found as part of its Business Email Threat Report: Email Security Uncovered that 69 percent of IT security decision makers globally feel their email security systems are inadequately equipped to handle cyber threats; and, this new data makes it clear that malicious insiders represent a major and growing source of this risk and anxiety over security preparedness.
By concentrating predominately on perimeter defence and outside threats, organisations around the world struggle with the risk that comes from their own people, emphasizing the need for organisations to implement employee awareness and education as well as creating a cyber resilience strategy that includes both technology- and human-based defences. This is evident especially considering this study revealed that nearly half of the organisations polled felt exposed to malicious insider attacks.
  • August 31 2016 - 11:00PM

Brainwave puts scientists step closer to building bionic brain

Bridie Smith

It's been the stuff of science fiction since it was deemed theoretically possible in the 1970s. But Sharath Sriram and his research team at RMIT have finally cracked it. They have built an artificial memory cell that could one day function as the grey matter in a bionic brain.
Capable of mimicking the human brain and the way it stores information over the long term, the brain-like system can also "learn", simultaneously process and store multiple strands of information and is quick to retrieve information.
At its most advanced application, the tiny cell could replace humans in medical trials because the bionic brain could be "programmed" to contain flaws such as dementia, allowing new medications to be tested.
More immediately, the memory cell can be used to create smarter computers, USB sticks with 16 times the capacity of existing memory sticks and self-drive vehicles capable of learning from their experiences on the roads.

ACT Health steals National Blood Authority CIO

By Allie Coyne on Aug 29, 2016 10:30AM

Award-winning tech chief steadies for new challenges.

Decorated National Blood Authority CIO Peter O'Halloran will leave the organisation after nearly nine years next month to tackle a new set of challenges at ACT Health.
O'Halloran first joined the blood authority in 2008 as its director of corporate services, a remit that included IT.
He was quickly appointed the organisation's first-ever chief information officer the following year, handing him responsibility for IT services for both internal and external users.
A hallmark of his tenure was the delivery of the BloodNet online blood supply chain system that is now used by over 400 hospitals nationwide each day.

Compumedics Ltd’s growing profits sends share price running

Friday, September 02, 2016 by Proactive Investors
Compumedics Ltd (ASX:CMP) posted a net profit after tax of $3.3 million last week, up 66% on the previous year, sending the share price up 40%.
Compumedics is a medical device company involved in the development, manufacture and commercialisation of diagnostic technology for the sleep, brain and ultrasonic blood-flow monitoring applications.
Sales order growth was driven out of Asia (53%), Europe (11%) with Australia also performing well at 37%.
  • August 30 2016 - 12:37PM

Hello? Anyone there? Scientists detect 'strong signals'. Could it be alien life?

Bridie Smith

"Strong signals", potentially linked to alien life, have been picked up by a radio telescope operating in a remote corner of Russia.
The signal spikes have been linked to a 6.3-billion-year-old star, known as HD164595, found in the Hercules constellation about 95 light years from Earth. The star is known to have at least one planet and possibly more.
The signals were picked up by the Russian radio telescope Ratan-600 near Zelenchukskaya in May last year.
But before you get too excited about meeting the new neighbours, consider this.

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