Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 17th July, 2017.

Here are a few I have come across the last week or so.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and a few paragraphs. For the full article click on the link above title of the article. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or subscription payment.

General Comment

A quiet week with the big news being the Government recognising it needs to make access to Medicare numbers more secure while not imposing too much red tape.
Otherwise the ADHA has been out and about on disposing of faxes and so on. Time will tell how that goes.
Enjoy the browse!

Government announces Medicare security review after darknet sale revealed

Former public service head Peter Shergold will lead the review into how 200,000 health professionals access Medicare
In 2016, the system allowing access to Medicare card details was accessed 3,929,685 times. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/AAP
The Turnbull government has announced a review the security of the online Medicare system and how doctors are able to access Medicare numbers after a darknet trader was discovered illegally selling patient details on request.
The former public service head Peter Shergold will lead the review, putting on notice thousands of doctors and other providers who have access to Medicare numbers via an online portal.
Guardian Australia revealed last week a darknet trader was offering the Medicare patient details of anyone for sale by “exploiting a vulnerability” in a government system, raising concerns that a health agency may be seriously compromised.

Federal government announces review of health provider online access of Medicare data

July 10, 20179:36am
Staff writers News Corp Australia Network
A MAJOR review of the security of Medicare card details being made available online to private health providers has been announced by the Federal Government.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Health Minister Greg Hunt have issued a joint statement saying the review follows revelations of a possible breach of Medicare records.
The federal government has been forced to contact “dozens” of Australians whose Medicare card numbers were illegally sold on the dark web.

Medicare’s 45,000 daily hits under scrutiny

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 10, 2017

David Crowe

The federal government will launch a high-powered inquiry into Medicare security to review the way doctors check up to 45,000 records every day, after a damaging privacy breach sparked fears about the sale of personal data to criminals.
The government will today name former public service chief Peter Shergold to lead the review into the online system, vowing to make “security risks and controls” a key part of a report to be done within three months.
The move puts doctors and other providers on notice that their access to Medicare numbers could be overhauled to tighten personal privacy in the wake of revelations last week that an online trader had sold 75 personal card details and was offering more for sale.

Medicare 'dark web' scam could mean more red tape for GPs

Antony Scholefield | 10 July, 2017 |
Practices may face tougher security measures when looking up patients' Medicare details following claims hackers are selling patient Medicare numbers on the dark web.
The Federal Government has announced it will review the Medicare number lookup system, which GPs have used since 2009, after it emerged patients' Medicare numbers have been selling for about $30 each.
An initial concern was that cyber criminals had hacked into the Department of Human Services computer system to access the data.

Australian Digital Health Agency MOU Biannual Report 2016-2017 for the period ending 31 December 2016

Mr Tim Kelsey
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Digital Health Agency
Level 25, 56 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Mr Kelsey
I am pleased to provide you with the biannual report for the period ending 31 December 2016, in accordance with section 3.3 of Schedule 1, section 3.3 of Schedule 2 and section 10.1 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian Digital Health Agency, in relation to the provision of dedicated privacy-related services under the Privacy Act 1988, the My Health Records Act 2012 and the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010.
If you have any queries relating to the report, please contact Melanie Drayton on [contact details removed].
Yours sincerely
Angelene Falk
Deputy Commissioner
21 March 2017

Breach leads to review of access to Medicare card data system

An independent review of security and access to Health Professionals Online Services will report by the end of September.
By Chris Duckett | July 10, 2017 -- 00:05 GMT (10:05 AEST) | Topic: Security
The Australian government has commissioned a review into Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS), which will focus on security and access to the system.
HPOS is currently used 45,000 times daily, and allows medical practitioners and health providers to look up Medicare details when a person does not have a Medicare card on them, the federal government said in a statement released on Monday morning.
"The system has had, and continues to have, the strong support of the AMA [Australian Medical Association] and GPs due to its convenience and ability to provide immediate patient care," the government said. "It provides an alternative avenue to the existing telephone network for a health professional to identify a patient's eligibility for Medicare benefits."

Fact Check: Security of My Health Record

Created on Friday, 14 July 2017

What is My Health Record?

My Health Record is a secure online summary of your health information. An individual can control what goes into it, and who is allowed access. Individuals can choose to share their health information with their doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Why is there a need for a digital record system?

One in three General Practitioners (GPs) will see a patient for whom they have little or no health information. Many patient records are created as paper files. They are regularly transmitted between healthcare providers using unsecure email, fax machines and by post. The My Health Record offers health professionals secure digital access to a patient’s record at the point of care, wherever that may be.
There are significant benefits of My Health Record for all Australians. These include avoided hospital admissions, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication in diagnostic tests, better coordination of care for people seeing multiple healthcare providers, and better informed treatment decisions.

Queensland Health's Dr Richard Ashby outlines vision, tech play

Lessons learned from payroll disaster - and previous clinician and clinical administrator roles - to help direct the ship
Jennifer O'Brien (CIO) 13 July, 2017 16:00
Queensland's Health's CEO and CIO Dr Richard Ashby wasn't around in 2013 when a payroll system implementation disaster led to a Commission of Inquiry. But he has taken one lesson learned during this debacle to heart and he applies it to all current and future tech projects at the organisation.
“One thing we have learned is that having the applications and the hosting and the managed services undertaken by one organisation is proving to be very beneficial. I won’t pick on payroll, in particular, but some of those sorts of examples where things haven’t gone well, you end up with large multinational companies pointing at each other, and pointing at government.”
Certainly, as the chief executive of eHealth Queensland and CIO of Queensland Health, Ashby has a big remit. In his combined role, he said he is focused on the business outcomes and the transformation of care for individual patients and for groups of patients for hospitals, and for the system.

The key to making therapeutic robotics more efficient: a human touch

Andrew Masterson
Published: July 12 2017 - 11:45PM
Mechanical and robotic exoskeletons hold considerable promise, both as aids to the disabled and machines to increase the lifting power of worked in heavy industry, but so far the reality has lagged considerably behind the dream.
One of the principle obstacles faced by designers in the need for frequent recalibration of exoskeleton settings. Each system, of course, has to be tweaked to suit its individual user, but it must also be adjusted to accommodate changes in movement styles or speed as the user becomes tired or switches from one function to another. Although technically possible, such alterations, done in downtime by a technician, are costly and tedious.
Scientists at the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in the US, however, have developed an exoskeleton system that incorporates feedback mechanisms powered by the person using it, allowing it to self-adjust to changing mechanical demands in real time.
10 July 2017

Finally, GPs can track My Aged Care referrals

Posted by Julie Lambert
In a welcome move, GPs will no longer be left in the dark after referring patients to the federal government’s My Aged Care system.
Under changes adopted on July 3, referring doctors can keep track of their patients’ progress, including which organisation is doing an assessment, their contact details, and the services that have been referred or commenced.
With a patient’s consent, a GP can also provide information to streamline the referral to an assessor via a webform, fax, or over the phone. A patient does not have to be present when a doctor makes a referral by phone, but the doctor must have their consent.
If the referral information is complete, it will be sent directly to an assessment organisation without the My Aged Care contact centre needing to call the patient.

Streamlined My Aged Care improves consumer support and access

New policies and processes have been implemented to make life easier for all consumers, particularly older people with diverse needs, and health professionals who use My Aged Care.
Page last updated: 11 July 2017
11 July 2017
New policies and processes have been implemented to make life easier for all consumers, particularly older people with diverse needs, and health professionals who use My Aged Care.
My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s one-stop shop for aged care support.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said one of the most important changes to My Aged Care was clarification of who can speak on a consumer’s behalf, and under what circumstances.

Malcolm Thatcher reveals ‘insider’ perspective about IT failures

‘Whether in the private or public sector, we don’t do big IT implementations well.’
Jennifer O'Brien (CIO) 12 July, 2017 09:41
The biggest failing of the IT industry is the fact there’s not enough focus on “people and business change,” according to former interim CIO/CEO of eHealth Queensland, Dr Malcolm Thatcher.
That’s one of the lessons learned by the former Queensland health executive, who’s now on the other side of the fence and able to reveal insights and key learnings about his time in government and industry.
Thatcher has been in IT for 35 years, with a range of roles including chief health information officer for Queensland Health; interim CEO and CIO; as well as executive director, information and infrastructure and CIO for Mater Health Services.
Since leaving Queensland Health in February 2017, Thatcher has focused on completing a book, based on his PHD research and industry knowledge, titled Digital Governance Handbook for CEOs and Governing Boards.”

E-health record a smart tool but needs to be safe

15th Jul 2017 9:54 AM
A NATIONAL shared electronic health record has the potential to be an important tool in improving health outcomes, according to the Australian College of Nursing.
But there must be assurances that patients' confidential medical information is secure and protected.
"A national shared electronic health record means that as people move between health care providers - or even move between states - clinical professionals have a single trusted source of information, information that could be vital such as a person's allergies or medications, they can quickly and easily access,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said.

Fax machines on the way out for Australian healthcare

Created on Friday, 14 July 2017
Fax-free healthcare is one step closer today, as the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) and clinical information systems vendors work together to progress secure electronic messaging between healthcare providers.
This technology will enable health data to flow securely from one healthcare provider to another – irrespective of the software they are using, the organisation they work for, or with whom they are communicating.
Dr Nathan Pinskier, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee on eHealth and Practice Systems, said the technology will have a big impact on the sector, where confidential patient records are regularly transmitted by dated systems such as facsimile and post.
"The number one issue to be resolved in health care communications is the ability for healthcare providers to electronically communicate with each other directly, seamlessly and securely," Dr Pinskier said.

Online doctors shouldn't replace in-person care: AMA

Posted yesterday at 6:29pm
The nation's peak medical body is warning patients to choose comprehensive health care over convenience as more online doctor services become available across Australia.
Websites offering prescription repeats, medical certificates and consultations for a range of common illnesses have caused concern among medical professionals.
The online services, which are not bulk-billed, offer consultation over video link from a patient's home instead of a brick-and-mortar clinic and can cost between $20 and $50.
But the online services compromise patient care for the sake of convenience, according to the vice-president of the Australian Medical Association, Tony Bartone.

Taking a patient’s family medical history and privacy breaches

Members can rest assured that they can collect a patient’s family history without breaching the Act.
14 Jul 2017
For doctors, taking a patient’s family history of things like heart disease is a fundamental part of good clinical management.
However, in the absence of legal protection, it would could be a problem from a privacy perspective. It entails taking certain details from your patient about another person’s health (usually a relative), and not informing the person. It is technically a breach of privacy in relation to the person whose details are recorded.
In response to these concerns, the AMA has for some years held a ‘Public Interest Determination’ (PID) from the Privacy Commissioner to protect medical practitioners taking a patient’s family history from being in breach of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (‘the Act’). This covered all medical practitioners providing a health service covered by the Act.

Explainer: Is it possible for the government to decrypt criminal messages without a back door?

Tim Biggs
Published: July 14 2017 - 2:38PM
When is a government back door into your social media account a back door and when is it "access to communications"?
That is the question experts are struggling to figure out after the government on Friday further detailed legislation, to be introduced this year, that will oblige tech companies and telcos to assist law enforcement in accessing encrypted information.
"What we seek to do with other leading economies in the world is to ensure that [tech companies] assist the law, to enable our law enforcement agencies to have access to these communications so that they can keep us safe", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at a press conference.

Data Governance Australia (DGA) draft code of practice

19 Jun 2017
Data Governance Australia is developing a Code of Practice as part of an on-going effort to set leading industry standards, promote a culture of best practice, and to drive innovation by increasing consumer confidence and trust in the data practices of organisations.
Geographic Coverage: 

Politics podcast: Graeme Samuel on data governance

July 13, 2017 11.34am AEST


  1. Michelle Grattan
Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra


  1. Graeme Samuel
Vice-Chancellor's Professorial Fellow, Monash University
Many Australians are worried about the proliferation of data businesses and the government knowing too much about them.
Data Governance Australia chairman Graeme Samuel hopes that a self-regulatory code of conduct will raise the standards among data-driven organisations. Despite the pervasiveness of data in our daily lives, he argues most people don’t understand the extent to which organisations use it.
As a former regulator, Samuel regards government regulation of data as “second-best” and is “there to step in when there is market failure”. In drafting the code, he has consulted closely with businesses and the public to try to “anticipate community concerns into the foreseeable future”.
On the government’s My Health Record – which has been rolled out very slowly – he argues the benefits of a centralised system outweigh privacy concerns, although every effort needs to be made to protect the privacy of health records.

DGA chair pushes back against ‘joint ownership’ model for data

Former ACCC chair pushes for industry self-regulation of data handling
Rohan Pearce (Computerworld) 12 July, 2017 15:01
The chair of Data Governance Australia, Graeme Samuel, has argued against a Productivity Commission recommendation that would see consumers given greater control over data about them held by businesses.
The former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today used an address at the National Press Club to argue that any move to take too much control of data away from businesses would stifle innovation.
The Productivity Commission’s final report on Data Availability and Use recommended that individuals and small and medium businesses be given “a new Comprehensive Right to the use of their digital data.”

Bupa employee steals data for 108,000 global customers

By Staff Writer on Jul 14, 2017 6:56AM

Personal details exposed.

An employee "copied and removed" the personal information of more than 100,000 international health insurance plan customers from the systems of health insurer Bupa.
The data included names, dates of birth, nationalities, some contact and administrative information. No medical or financial data is at risk.
The now ex-staffer is believed to have made the information they have available to "other parties" too, according to a letter sent to the 108,000 international health insurance policy holders from Sheldon Kenton, managing director of Bupa Global, the firm's international health insurance division.

We need to streamline reminders when a GP is absent

10 July 2017


A 'buddy system' might be the way to prevent holiday mishaps, writes Dr Oliver Frank. 
GPs frequently have to check incoming test results and correspondence for colleagues who are away. In the rush of daily consulting, it can be difficult to remember to do this. Currently GPs use workarounds, including adding reminder notes to their lists of appointments or other types of manually-created prompts.
Clinical software should provide a redirection facility that sends copies of incoming test results, correspondence and other messages for an absent GP to one or more other specified buddy GPs in the practice, on specified days, for the anticipated duration of the GP’s absence. The forwarded results need to be listed separately from the buddy GP’s own results. Results that need no action during the recipient GP’s absence can disappear from the buddy GP’s list once so marked, while any results that the buddy needs to follow up while the recipient GP is away should stay visible until the issue has been dealt with or the recipient GP has returned. On their return, the absent GP will see the results that arrived and the annotations made by the buddy GP(s).

Meet the worm-bot

10 July 2017
Although the prospect of a worm robot inching its way through your colon may be a touch disconcerting, it could actually be a safer and more comfortable alternative to traditional colonoscopies.
Scientists from the University of Colorado in the US have created a worm-like device that can cleverly navigate the human colon, collecting images along the way.
The latest in the field of robotic aides, the 13cm-long ‘worm’ is made up of three flexible sections and nine shape-memory alloy springs, which convulse in a peristaltic motion mimicking that of the gut.

AFL goes for lifesaving goal as organ donors sign up in record time

The Australian Government has unveiled a new online organ donor registration process which will save lives.
Page last updated: 13 July 2017

Joint Media Release

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Indigenous Health
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Sport
13 July 2017
The Turnbull Government has today unveiled a new online organ donor registration process which will save lives.
Almost instantly, you can now register to become a donor, using a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Aged Care Minister and Indigenous health Minister Ken Wyatt also announced today a new partnership with the Australian Football League (AFL) to help lift the national organ donor rates.

Global database matches patients to clinical trials

By Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin Staff
Monday, 10 July, 2017
New life-saving and pain medications could reach the market up to four years faster thanks to an Australian initiative to fast-track the clinical trial approval process.
Currently, clinical trials can be delayed up to eight years because drug companies do not have easy access to suitable patients. To help resolve this dilemma, Australian company Neoclinical has created Australia’s largest voluntary ‘matching database’ between patients and the 40,000 clinical trials that occur worldwide at any one time.
The registration service allows patients who want to be part of a clinical trial to find one that might be suitable for them.
“Every great medical advance in modern history has involved a clinical trial to prove a drug’s benefits before regulators allow patients access to it,” Neoclinical Managing Director and Oncology Specialist Registered Nurse Megan Guy said.

Healthshare partners with the Australian Health Service Alliance (AHSA) to help increase Specialist cost transparency for over 2 million Australian Patients

For Immediate Release  12th July 2017
Healthshare partners with the Australian Health Service Alliance (AHSA) to help increase Specialist cost transparency for over 2 million Australian Patients Healthshare, Australia's leading digital health platform, has today announced a major partnership with the Australian Health Service Alliance (AHSA), an organisation representing 27 Australian private health funds. The innovative partnership will help members of the AHSA-affiliated funds  quickly and easily find a medical specialist who participates in their fund's No Gap or Known Gap scheme, via Healthshare's specialist directory.
The directory is available to General Practitioners (GPs) via their clinical software. As a result, patients likely to have surgery can discuss with their GPs upfront about being referred to a  specialist with no out-of-pocket costs at the location of their choice. Utilising Healthshare's  market-leading practitioner referrals platform, the GP can then automatically populate a referral  through their clinical software including patient and specialist details.

NBN Co reaches halfway mark early, thanks to shrinking target

Lucy Battersby
Published: July 10 2017 - 12:15AM
NBN Co has reached the halfway mark of its network roll-out early, thanks to a reduction in the total number of premises that will be connected by 2020. 
The government-owned company is celebrating the halfway milestone on Monday after rolling its infrastructure past 5.7 million premises, with about 2.2 million of those premises actively using the network. 
By 2020 NBN Co expects to connect a total of 11.2 million premises, down from an earlier estimate of 11.9 million premises. Both these estimates are down from a 2011 expectation that NBN Co would connect 13 million premises. 

NBN: the download lowdown

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 13, 2017

Anthony Klan

Eight years since its inception, the $49 billion National Broadband Network reached its halfway point this week with one in two Australians now able to connect.
But a major technical shift in direction by the Coalition federal government — which it claims will see up to $30bn slashed from the ultimate bill — is expected to see more problems emerge with many users already finding they are achieving speeds slower than before they had the NBN but are paying more for the service.
The Kevin Rudd ALP government in 2009 launched its grand plan for a nationwide internet network, underpinned by the philosophy that fibre cabling was the key to the online future.
“Do it once, Do it right. Do it with fibre” was Labor’s mantra at the time. The ALP declared 93 per cent of homes would be connected directly with fibre — known as fibre to the premises or FTTP — with the remaining 7 per cent in remote areas to access the NBN via satellite.


Anonymous said...

This constant bullying of the fax machine is getting a little repetitive and dull. The fax was a remarkable step in modern communications, not some rampant weed. If that is all Tim can keep coming up with then perhaps someone with some vision is needed.

Anonymous said...

Yes the fax is an interesting target, somehow the reduction through IT of unnecessary manual and repeatitive tasks recorded in paper trails was become the fax. Perhaps faxes will be replaced by an increase in printing. Paper is with us and will continue to be with us because paper serves important cognitive needs regardless of how advanced information and communication technologies get.

It reminded me of a commercial that was aired in France when I was last that way


Anonymous said...

I don't think Tim is bullying the fax machine he's just making the point it is time it was made redundant. To bring that about he has been enlightened with the realisation that when secure messaging is working the Fax machine will be replaced and that will be a remarkable step in modern healthcare communications. Do you 8:37 PM have a problem with that?

Anonymous said...

10:56 PM, I agree the fax as a communication tool is on a natural decline and is fast being replaced by other technologies, I also to a degree agree with 8:37, the rally cry around burning faxes in some sort of symbolic bonfire is as the English say'a bit naff', the statement made an impact several years ago when Beverly Bryant first came up with it. A pattern of repeating others throw away slogans and snippets does leave me wondering if there is any real substance behind Tim.

Don't get me wrong, I think he did a nice job traveling about the country talking to people, but I question if the project, and indeed the ADHA, now needs a refreshed leadership team, one that can knuckle down and operate a national entity and all it's products and services?

From what I hear and indeed comments on this blog, the Agency is far from being operationally ready

Anonymous said...

7:16 AM, I too am disquieted by the apparent immaturity of the ADHA to operate as a resilient and disciplined organisation, it is a big factor in my current reluctance to participate in the My Health Record scheme. If something goes wrong, is the leadership and mechanisms in place there to address issues, my experience has been that I am not convinced the ADHA would even know how to diagnose complex issues.

Anonymous said...

If you have strong feelings about faxing, then why not let the Digital Health Agency know? You can use one of their two fax lines, one in Sydney and one in Brisbane. See https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/about-the-agency/contact-us. Alternatively you can send them an insecure email on help@digitalhealth.gov.au.
I am sure there are few Agency officers whose job it is to catch those faxes as they emerge from their shiny fax machines.
Viva la fax!