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.
More activity this week and the flow of news has been improving. Wait another week or so for full return to normal I reckon.
Telehealth consultations booming and here to stay, researchers say
Almost one-third of GP visits in NSW during 2020 were via telehealth, new research shows, and doctors say their patients won’t go back to in-person only consultations.
In the article below, first published in Macquarie University’s Lighthouse magazine, Fran Molloy outlines the findings.
Fran Molloy writes:
Telehealth consultations with GPs are booming among urban and rural patients since the Government introduced temporary Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) support in March this year – and authors of a new report analysing GP visits at 800 practices across Australia argue the MBS changes should be permanent.
Professor Andrew Georgiou and his co-authors found that phone consultations with GPs in NSW and Victoria climbed from zero during 2019 to more than 138,000 per week between January and September 2020.
GP scripts will look different from next month - what you need to know
Brand names can only be mentioned after the active ingredient except for a few exemptions
18th January 2021
GP scripts will have to use the generic names of PBS medications from next month, but handwritten scripts and some drugs with multiple active ingredients will be exempt.
The change introduced by the Federal Government is designed to increase uptake of generic drugs and reduce medication errors.
It will allegedly save $336 million over five years.
Prescribing by brand will still be allowed where clinically necessary the government says, but new legislation has been introduced preventing prescribing software from automatically including brand names on GP scripts.
Dr Malcolm Thatcher appointed as new Chief Technology Officer
Published 20 January 2021
The Australian Digital Health Agency is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Malcolm Thatcher as its new Chief Technology Officer.
Dr Thatcher’s previous roles include Chief Health Information Officer (CHIO) for Queensland Health and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Mater Healthcare Group in Brisbane, as well as interim CIO and Chief Executive of eHealth Queensland.
Dr Thatcher has a doctoral degree (PhD) from the Queensland University of Technology with a focus on digital risk and governance. In 2010, he completed a certificate course in Leadership Strategies in Information Technology at Harvard University and in 2016 he was recognised as one of the top 50 CIOs in Australia by CIO Magazine Australia.
In September 2019, Dr Thatcher was appointed Professor of Digital Practice in the QUT Graduate School of Business with a focus on digital transformation, risk and governance and is also a published author on digital health.
Australian Digital Health Agency appoints new CTO
By Justin Hendry on Jan 20, 2021 10:18AM
Ex-Queensland Health CIO named.
Queensland University of Technology professor and one-time Queensland Health CIO Malcolm Thatcher has been named the Australian Digital Health Agency’s new chief technology officer.
The agency responsible for the country’s $2 billion My Health Record and other national digital health systems announced the appointment on Wednesday after a two-month executive search.
Thatcher replaces former national health chief information officer Ronan O’Connor, who resigned in mid-October after more than three years in the coveted role.
O’Connor has since become vice president, analytics international at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Former Queensland public servant takes senior role at Australian Digital Health Agency
Thursday January 21, 2021
Dr Malcolm Thatcher will commence in his new role as chief technology officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency next month.
Most recently, Thatcher was Professor of Digital Practice in the QUT Graduate School of Business with a focus on digital transformation, risk and governance.
He has previously worked as chief health information officer for the Queensland government’s health department, as well as senior roles at Mater Healthcare Group in Brisbane, and eHealth Queensland.
Thatcher was also named one of the top 50 CIOs in Australia by CIO Magazine Australia in 2016.
Newly appointed ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said Thatcher’s experience would support the key role of digital health in Australia’s ongoing COVID-19 response.
My Health Record COVID-19 test results now available to patients after 24 hours
Date Published: Jan 20, 2021
As part of the Australian Government’s pandemic response, a change will be made in the My Health Record system so that COVID-19 pathology reports are available to patients in their My Health Record sooner. This change has been made in consultation with industry and government stakeholders.
Currently, when a pathology or diagnostic imaging report is uploaded to My Health Record, it is not available for viewing by consumers in their record until 7 days later. This ensures clinicians have enough time to process the report and communicate test results to consumers in the event of an adverse diagnosis.
During the pandemic, timely delivery of COVID-19 test results to patients is crucial in containing the spread of the virus.
From 21 December 2020, if a pathology service uploads reports to My Health Record, any COVID-19 reports will be available after 24 hours to patients who have a My Health Record. This is a convenient way to access results in addition to the direct notification already sent.
TGA Releases Long Awaited Regulatory Guidance for Software as a Medical Device (SAMD)
As many of you know, ANDHealth has been working closely with
the Therapeutic Goods Administration and our members to create an appropriate
regulatory framework for SAMD products.
ANDHealth views clear and effective regulation as critical to the development of an internationally competitive digital health sector, aligning with international regulatory requirements and creating an important distinction between evidence-based digital health products and digital therapeutics and general consumer wellness products.
Following two years of active consultation by the TGA to clarify the regulatory landscape for software based digital health products, including a proposal to “carve out” certain products that are considered low risk, or presented a low risk to users or are subject to other mechanisms of oversight. Draft Guidance has now been published and will take effect February 25th, 2021.
COVIDSafe app didn’t find contacts
The federal government’s COVIDSafe app did not uncover contacts of COVID-19 cases in the recent holiday outbreaks.
This period includes the South Australian Parafield outbreak starting in mid November, clusters in NSW on the Northern Beaches and Berala, and community transmission cases in Victoria.
The Australian contacted each state and territory to find out the usage of the app.
In NSW a health spokesperson said experience to date in NSW had shown that the COVIDSafe app may be most useful where interviews with contact tracers have not been successful in identifying contacts. “To date, it has not been necessary to use the app in these latest clusters,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria said that from 14 November, out of the 14 cases that had the app, it identified zero new contacts through the COVIDSafe data.
Calling time on the COVIDSafe app
The COVIDSafe app has delivered an abject lesson that with computer solutions, complexity isn’t better than simplicity. The Australian today revealed that state and territory health departments have been barely accessing data from it over summer.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert and his team did the right thing exploring adapting Singapore’s TraceTogether app to unravel the transmission of coronavirus in the community. The app enables phones to sense the distance to other phones using Bluetooth signals.
The Singapore government rendered the code for the TraceTogether app open source and free to adapt. It was a starting point for developing COVIDSafe. When the app launched in April, it was one of the key pillars in the federal response to the virus. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described it as enabling us to get back to relative normality.
The app went well at first with six million downloads in the first month, and I was among those in the media wishing it well. Any weapon against this lethal virus was an important shot in the locker.
RapidAI’s AI-powered stroke imaging solution gets rolled out across NSW
Dean Koh | 22 Jan 2021
RapidAI, a health tech company specializing in stroke imaging, recently announced it now serves over 50 hospitals and teleradiology services in Australia. Rapid is the first AI-powered stroke imaging solution approved in the country.
The solution is being rolled out across the state of New South Wales (NSW) where it is part of a comprehensive telehealth initiative which leverages the Rapid Mobile App to optimize workflow, communication, and expedite patient treatment throughout the state’s large comprehensive and regional community hospitals.
The company also said it is developing industry leading cerebrovascular imaging solutions through participation in clinical trials with 8 leading Australian hospitals and institutions.
THE LARGER TREND
In September 2020, RapidAI announced a US$25 million Series B round headed by Lennertz & Co and the company said the raise would help advance its platform. RapidAI received clearance from the FDA in the USA for its Rapid ASPECTS neuroimaging analysis device in July 2020, MobiHealthNews reported.
Chief Operating Officer - Digital Health
Executive Intelligence Group
- STRATEGIC AND INFLUENTIAL ROLE
- VIBRANT AND DYNAMIC AGENCY POISED FOR ACCELERATION
- EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP ROLE
- ATTRACTIVE SALARY PACKAGE
- BRISBANE / SYDNEY / CANBERRA
The Opportunity and Organisation – Australian Digital Health Agency
An exciting opportunity exists for a high performing Senior Executive to join the Australian Digital Health Agency to lead the re-shaped Corporate Services Division.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is committed to the delivery of world-leading digital health capabilities. The Agency leads, coordinates and innovates, in partnership with the health sector, across jurisdictions and with health consumers, to design and deliver seamless, safe and secure digital health services for the better health for all Australians.
Chief Operating Officer – Strategic & Operational Leadership
Operating as part of a new Executive Leadership Team and reporting to the CEO, you will lead and manage the recently re-shaped Corporate Services Division and help steward the Agency to deliver on its national vision and strategic objectives.
While strengthening and coalescing the Agency enabling team you will lead a culture of contemporary best-practice people leadership, internal and external communications and strategic risk management in a dynamic environment in which the Agency is maturing organisationally and pivoting towards the next wave of innovation in digital health to support the health of Australians into the future.
You will lead a refreshed workforce strategy, a program of capability development and the nurturing of talent to ready the Agency for the future, while you also drive prudent financial management, robust safety, governance, compliance and assurance processes and lead other key enablers that support the Agency to deliver.
'Common target': Only 10 per cent of Australian universities automatically blocking fraudulent emails
January 20, 2021 — 10.12am
Almost half of Australia’s top 20 universities appear to have no protection in place for hackers impersonating their domain to trick people into giving them sensitive information and taking over their computer systems.
Only two of the universities are proactively blocking fraudulent emails from reaching students, alumni and faculty staff, raising concerns they are leaving themselves open to attack.
Australia's cyber security agency, the Australian Singals Directorate, recommends government departments and the private sector use domain authentication to catch out fraudulent emails.
The revelations have sparked concern Australian universities are still leaving themselves open to "phishing" attacks, which have been the main source of hacks on the higher education sector in recent years. A crippling attack on the Australian National University's computer system in 2018 began with a "spear-phishing" email targeting a senior staff member - delivering a malicious code without the person needing to download an attachment or open the email.
Microsoft details "incredible effort" to hide by SolarWinds hackers
By Juha Saarinen, iTnews on Jan 21, 2021 11:26AM
Standout opsec and anti-forensic methods applied.
The hackers behind the high-profile SolarWinds attacks went to extraordinary lengths to avoid detection, research by Microsoft security analysts shows.
Based on their Sunburst - or as Microsoft calls it, Solorigate - backdoor staying dormant for at at least two weeks, the attackers painstakingly selected targets and built unique Cobalt Strike network penetration tools for each victim system for a month or so, Microsoft researchers said.
During that time, the hackers also established their command and control infrastructure, with domain generation algorithms creating random names.
Through adding malicious code to an update for the SolarWinds Orion network monitoring tool, the hackers were able to compromise Microsoft, security vendor FireEye and the United States Treasury and other government departments.
NSW records no new local coronavirus cases
· NCA NewsWire
NSW has recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases as a computer glitch caused confusion about testing numbers.
Five overseas travellers were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 24-hour reporting period ending at 8pm on Wednesday night, NSW Health said.
Those numbers were based on around 18,000 tests that were performed in that time period.
But only 12,213 of them had been reported to the NSW Health team that tallies the daily numbers by the 8pm cutoff.
A computer glitch caused a batch of around 6,000 tests to be reported too late to make the cut. Those cases will be included in Friday’s numbers instead, meaning that day’s testing numbers will likely appear higher than they otherwise would be.
WA Health names new CIO
By Justin Hendry on Jan 14, 2021 4:30PM
Finds new tech chief from Lotterywest.
Western Australia’s health department has named former Lotterywest tech chief Christian Rasmussen as its new chief information officer.
Rasmussen, who replaces former CIO Holger Kaufmann, will start at the department’s shared services arm, Health Support Services (HSS), on Friday.
Kaufmann resigned in June 2020 after two years at the helm, having joined from the then Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in May 2018.
Rasmussen comes to HSS with decades of experience in IT leadership, most recently at Lotterywest, otherwise known as the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia.
Reserve Bank of NZ governor apologises for 'serious' data breach
By Juha Saarinen, iTnews on Jan 15, 2021 2:45PM
Orr personally owns the issue.
The governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Adrian Orr has issued an apology for the recent "significant" data breach that the central bank suffered.
Unknown attackers exploited a vulnerability in the standalone Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) and illegally accessed sensitive data stored on and shared with the application.
The nature of the data has not been disclosed by the bank, nor the how information was captured.
"We apologise unreservedly to all affected parties for this breach," Orr said.
"I do want to say, I personally own the issue; I am very sorry and I am very disappointed to be here, giving this news," the RBNZ governor added.
InterSystems TrakCare and Launceston General Hospital First to Support ISBT 128 with BloodNet Digital Interface
Launceston General Hospital Cuts Time to Receipt and Fate Blood Products by 75% Following Accreditation by Australian National Blood Authority
SYDNEY, Australia, January 18, 2021 – InterSystems, a creative data technology provider dedicated to helping customers solve the most critical scalability, interoperability and speed problems, today announced that InterSystems TrakCare® and Launceston General Hospital have become the first to support the new ISBT 128 blood labelling standard with a digital interface to the National Blood Authority’s (NBA’s) BloodNet online ordering and inventory management system.
All Australian clinical laboratories are expected to adopt ISBT 128 – which replaces a local Codabar standard – over the next few years. The internationally recognised ISBT 128 standard improves blood component traceability for the safety of both patients and donors.
The NBA is also encouraging clinical laboratories to interface their laboratory information systems to BloodNet. Digital interfaces enable real-time exchange of critical blood stock information, promoting efficiencies in Australia’s $1.1 billion annual blood products supply chain and improving emergency response capabilities.
A number of clinical laboratories and their technology suppliers have interfaced laboratory information systems to BloodNet and received accreditation from the NBA, and a number of laboratories have adopted ISBT 128. Launceston General Hospital, with the support of InterSystems, is the first to adopt ISBT 128 with a BloodNet interface, allowing it to maximise both safety and efficiency benefits.
NBN Co runs fixed wireless tower on diesel generator for over two years
By Ry Crozier on Jan 22, 2021 6:55AM
Finally in line to get mains power.
NBN Co has revealed that it has been powering a fixed wireless site in remote Victoria for “more than two years” using a diesel generator.
The site remains fully off-grid but now sources its power from a hybrid solar-diesel setup that NBN Co piloted at the site in FY20.
However, iTnews understands that the tower will finally be connected to the grid by the end of February this year.
The generator-powered tower hosts antennas that deliver fixed wireless services to surrounding residences (rather than it being a microwave backhaul site).