Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 19th March, 2012.

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

The main news of last week seems to be the slipping date of the release of the Senate PCEHR Inquiry and anticipation of what it might say. If it all works out finally, while reading this late on Monday, we will already know what was said.
Much more interesting will be the implications of what is said.
Second we seem to have more on the costs of the PCEHR to the clinicians. I have to say my instinct is to ask to see the working behind the $30,000 saving! It seems a very big claim to me based on the reasons offered.
The last thing the I found really interesting was the SANE Australia report on the use of IT among those with mental illness. It is good to see their level of engagement and use.

Secure messaging switch could save practices $30,000 to offset PCEHR

14th Mar 2012
GENERAL practices could offset any cost increases associated with the personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) by switching to a secure messaging service instead of paper letters, a leading e-health expert has said.
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, national clinical lead for the National E-Health Transition Authority, which is implementing the PCEHR, acknowledged the change could bring some extra costs but said a four-doctor practice could save an average $30,000 a year by switching to secure messaging.
Dr Haikerwal said the savings would come from cutting stationery costs and the time taken to write and rewrite letters, but a key barrier remained practices’ resistance to taking communications online because it would alter their business practices.

GPs warned of e-record workload

13 March, 2012 Paul Smith
GPs can expect to add about five minutes to an average consultation to create each patient health summary for the Federal Government’s e-health system, according to data emerging from trial sites.
The summaries — listing patient diagnoses, medications and allergies — will form the backbone of the personally controlled electronic health record system.
But the ministers involved have resisted calls for direct funding of the work needed to keep clinical information accurate.
Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local, which has around 80 general practices involved in its e-health trial, warned that based on the experiences of its clinicians, the government needed to rethink its stance.

NEHTA rejects Senate hearing testimony

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • March 16, 2012 6:19PM
THE National E-Health Transition Authority has rejected testimony from Medical Software Industry Association representatives at a Senate public hearing into the Personally Controlled E-Health Record system last month.
MSIA president Jon Hughes said the Community Affairs committee should subpoena all patient safety documents held by NEHTA so they could be scrutinised by independent experts.
Mr Hughes said NEHTA's consistent refusal to provide the risk assessments meant the PCEHR system, due to commence operations on July 1, was "characterised by patient safety issues".
NEHTA has rebutted all specific matters put to the inquiry by the MSIA about the PCEHR and central Healthcare Identifiers service, in just-released answers to questions on notice.

Report into medical record system delayed

E-HEALTH: The Senate inquiry into the Personally Controlled E-Health Record system is due to report its findings today, but sources say there will be a further delay because of committee workload pressures.
The Australian understands the report will be delayed for at least one week.
With parliament resuming for the autumn sittings, the Gillard government's companion PCEHR bills are on the Senate's agenda, following their passage through the lower house last month.
But it is unlikely any debate will begin in the Senate until the outcome of the Community Affairs inquiry into the Northern Territory intervention and other matters is at hand.
Coalition MPs voted to pass the e-health legislation in the house but warned they had concerns about the way the system was being implemented and might move changes to the bills in the Senate.

Senate e-Health findings to be released on Thursday

THE findings from the Senate inquiry into the Personally Controlled E-Health Record Bills will be released on Thursday, after the Community Affairs committee was granted a two-day extension on its reporting deadline.
A one-week extension had been expected.
It is understood the move will permit debate on the legislation in the Senate next week.
After next Thursday, the Senate does not sit again before the Budget session commences on May 8.

Senate e-health findings hit wall

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • March 15, 2012 9:31AM
THE Senate inquiry into the Personally Controlled E-Health Record Bills has struck a hitch, with Community Affairs chair Claire Moore to request a further extension of the reporting date today.
The committee was due to present its findings after being granted a two-day extension on Tuesday.
Insiders have been expecting a majority report supported by Labor and Greens senators, along with a more critical dissenting report from Coalition senators.

E-health record will be hacked, says AusCERT

news One of Australia’s top IT security organisations has warned that the Federal Government’s flagship e-health records project is likely to be broken into, with Australians’ medical and identity information to be used for fraud and other criminal activities.
AusCERT, Australia’s Computer Emergency Response Team, which is not associated with the Government, in its submission to an inquiry about the legislation dated in January (PDF), criticised the Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) Bill (2011). In its commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Australian Internet users, AusCERT has expressed concern that miscreants could potentially use the PCEHR for identity theft and fraud. The submission was first reported by the AustralianIT.
AusCERT opines that enabling accessibility to personal identifying information in the form of the PCEHR from personal computers over the Internet will only worsen an ongoing problem that will make Australians vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. The submission focuses on the use of untrustworthy end point computers and mobile devices, which when compromised, will enable attackers exert full control over the PCEHR to look at or change its contents with the same privileges as the owner or authorised users.

Software developers to engage with new national eHealth records system ahead of July 2012 launch

13 March 2012.  A PCEHR: End to End, Software Developer Conference being held on Tuesday 27 March will enable software developers to get further involved with the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, launching in July 2012.
Part of CHIK's Health-e-Nation 2012 event, the one day workshop will guide software developers as to what they need to do to access the system.
The vendor PCEHR specifications and the initial release of the national infrastructure are scheduled for late-March. This release will support the vendors that have begun working with NEHTA to test the infrastructure ahead of the July launch when all Australians who choose to can register for an eHealth record.

Doctors can get patient feedback from website

15 March, 2012 Michael Woodhead
An online patient feedback system set up by GPs in the UK has now been brought to Australia and aims to improve health services by sending comments on services directly to the service providers.
The Patient Opinion Australia site has been launched up by Gold Coast-based academic Professor Michael Greco of Griffith University,  who previously worked as Director of Patient Experience for the National NHS Primary Care Team.
The not-for profit feedback platform has now been established in Australia to provide a  ‘patient stories’ service for health organisations such as hospitals and Medicare Locals.

NEHTA gets mobile at Wave sites

Written by Kate McDonald on 15 March 2012.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has launched a new information campaign to inform health professionals about how the foundations of the PCEHR and other eHealth initiatives will work.
Aimed at the healthcare workforce rather than consumers at this stage, a Model Healthcare Community (MHC) truck is being sent around the country to explain eHealth initiatives.
A NEHTA spokesman said the MHC truck will visit the Wave 1 and 2 sites for the implementation of the PCEHR to tap into their local networks of health professionals.

Australians should not opt-in to e-health records: AusCERT

Following a submission on the PCEHR Bill, the expert security organisation has warned Australians against using the national e-health record system
Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) has warned Australians not to opt-in to the Federal Government’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system due to concerns about insufficient security protections for users’ personal information.
According to AusCERT general manager, Graham Ingram, the focus of the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) in securing the back-end IT systems supporting the PCEHR have been at the expense of ensuring the security of users at the point of access. As such, Australians using the PCEHR face the risk of identity theft.
“There is a massive amount of online crime which is all about compromising the end-point computers of your PC, laptop or smart device,” Ingram told Computerworld Australia. “The Department of Health and Ageing is putting those sensitive transactions or data over an insecure protocol.

New apps just what the patients need

13 March 2012
Emma Connors
The popularity of health-related apps has surprised even their creators, who figured there was a thirst for authoritative information.
When Parool Shah’s son was born prematurely nine years ago, she would dearly have loved to have had a ready guide to the complex world of neonatal care.
“It’s such a traumatic time,” said Ms Shah. “You soon realise you have to learn a whole new language to navigate through the maze,” she said.
Since January help has literally been at hand to guide families through Neonatal Intensive Care Units. This is the NICU Words app for iPhones, developed for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation. Ms Shah was among the mothers who created the charity.

Calls for better e-health safeguards

  • by: Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • March 15, 2012 12:15AM
THE Consumers Health Forum has called for a better complaints mechanism, greater investigative resources and additional safeguards against misuse of patient information for the personally controlled e-health record system due to launch on July 1.
The peak consumer body has turned to the Joint Select committee inquiry into Cyber-Safety for Senior Australians to raise additional concerns, including clarification around notification of data breaches on PCEHR records.
A Senate inquiry into the PECHR Bills and related matters is due to report its findings today.
"The complaints mechanism for the PCEHR will be crucial to ensuring the safety and security of consumer health information, and will be of particular interest to older Australians who are likely to be high end-users of the health system," the CHF said in its submission.

E-Health Tabled for Discussion at HGM2012


Wednesday, March 14th 2012
With Australia’s first Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) program set to launch on 1 July, e-health is hot on the agenda for government, businesses and the medical industry, as well as the aptly-timed 16th Annual Human Genome Meeting (HGM2012) being held in Sydney this week.
Sydney, NSW (PRWEB) March 14, 2012
With Australia’s first Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) program set to launch on 1 July, e-health is hot on the agenda for government, businesses and the medical industry, as well as the aptly-timed 16th Annual Human Genome Meeting (HGM2012) being held in Sydney this week.
E-health has been a long-debated and much anticipated addition to the Australian health system. Its launch, which enables consumers across the nation to access their own electronically-held health card with current medical information – anywhere and anytime, will undoubtedly be a discussion point for the 750 leading practitioners, researchers and educators in the field of human genome research who are attending this week’s conference.

Information technology and mental illness

08 March 2012Many Australians with mental illness are enthusiastic users of information and communication technology – actively utilising the Internet and mobile technology to manage their lives, to help overcome isolation, and to seek information and online self-help treatments. Some also need support to take advantage of technology.
Are people with mental illness on the wrong side of the digital divide? Does the Internet discourage contact with friends and family? Does the mass of often-dubious mental health content on the web mean they are less likely to find accurate information and help?
This study aimed to find out . . It was not focused on whether people have Internet access, but on how they use it.

Feds to fund e-mental health clinic

The federal government has called for tenders from organisations to develop virtual clinic mental health services.
A pot of $20 million over three years is available to fund the new online clinic. This money was announced as part of the government’s 2011 Mental Health Reform Package.
Minister for mental health and ageing, Mark Butler, said in a statement the virtual clinic would provide online counseling with the assistance of a therapist for people with low to moderate mental health disorders. The virtual clinic is intended to complement existing face-to-face mental health services.

IPads help doctors with busy workload

13 March, 2012 Gemma Collins
The use of iPads in hospitals can help busy doctors work more efficiently and reduce delays in patient care, new research suggests.
US residents in a hospital in California who were given iPads to access their patients’ medical records rather than having to find a computer workstation to do it, found that they could save time on their ward rounds and order treatment for their patients much quicker, according to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The 115 residents who were specialising in internal medicine had the Ipads for three months and more than three quarters said they saved around an hour a day on the wards and more than half said they felt they could attend more conferences by using the tablets.  

Working together just what the doctors ordered

13 Mar, 2012 04:00 AM
DEVELOPING closer working relationships between Orange’s health professionals was high on the agenda at last week’s health forum.
The Western NSW Medicare Local (WML) Region sought information from Orange allied health professionals to identify gaps in health services and offer the community more streamlined services.
Central West Division of General Practice chief executive officer Sandra Christensen said the WML was a new concept and will involve health professionals from across the Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo regions.
The establishment of Medicare Locals is a federal government initiative to provide the community with a broader range of health services that respond to local needs.

Brain drain: Where Cobol systems go from here

David Brown is worried. As managing director of the IT transformation group at Bank of New York Mellon, he is responsible for the health and welfare of 112,500 Cobol programs -- 343 million lines of code -- that run core banking and other operations. But many of the people who built that code base, some of which goes back to the early days of Cobol in the 1960s, will be retiring over the next several years.
"We have people we will be losing who have a lot of business knowledge. That scares me," Brown says. He's concerned about finding new Cobol programmers, who are expected to be in short supply in the next five to ten years. But what really keeps him up at night is the thought that he may not be able to transfer the deep understanding of the business logic embedded within the bank's programs before it walks out the door with the employees who are retiring.