Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 18th September, 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

Really a very quiet week in e-Health but in the sector there is a fair bit happening. Biggest news is NSW following Queensland in taking an axe to the staffing levels in the State Health System.
It will only with time will we see what impact all these job cuts will have on overall service levels and especially e-Health. The cuts certainly seem to be pretty draconian.
The broader political situation of the populace wanting increasingly expensive services but not being prepared to pay for them (via tax etc.) will clearly become unsustainable over time -if it hasn’t already. The point was widely explored by George Megalogenis on Insiders a day or so ago. See here:
The impact on e-Health is likely to be pretty large over time I suspect.


A major focus of the Australian Government’s "eHealth" agenda is the personally controlled electronic health record system (PCEHR system).  On 1 July 2012 the PCEHR system became available for online registration for individuals.  The PCEHR system allows an individual to access their own health information and nominate which of their healthcare providers  obtain access to that information. 
An overview of the PCEHR system
The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012 (Act) provides the legal framework for establishing a voluntary national system of internet-based personal medical records.  The aim of the PCEHR system is to improve the co-ordination of individuals' health information by making it more readily available and ensuring the most up to date information is used to assess the individuals' treatment.  In addition the PCEHR system aims to reduce the risk of adverse medical intervention or the duplication of treatment. 

DORA software rollout lagging

13th Sep 2012
THE rollout of software giving GPs patient prescription histories in real time, aimed at cutting doctor shopping, is moving at a slow pace with bureaucratic hurdles delaying the process by months.
GPs had been expecting the software, known as DORA, to be made available nationwide from July following a successful trial overseen by Tasmania’s Alcohol and Drug Services.
The program was to be delivered by state governments with a $5 million contribution from the Commonwealth. But last week the federal health department confirmed licensing agreements with each state and territory were still being negotiated.

E-health education program

10 September, 2012 Pharmacy News staff
A new national education program, funded through the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement,will commence in October to support community pharmacies in increasing their understanding and awareness of electronic transfer of prescriptions.
The Electronic Transfer of Prescription (ETP) Education Program aims to educate the community pharmacy workforce about electronic medication management, and specifically the role of ETP in Australia’s e-health landscape.
ETP is a means by which community pharmacy can participate in a quality use of medicines initiative that will reduce medication errors and enhance health outcomes for consumers. In addition ETP will enable community pharmacy to reinforce its record as leaders in health-related innovation.

ACT Launches Online Medical Information Pilot Project

In order to provide easy availability of medical facilities to Canberra residents, the ACT has come up with a scheme in which they will be providing online access to health information. In order to see the success of the project, the ACT has launched the scheme in the form of a pilot project, which will be combined with the PCEHR.
The system is known as My eHealth system and will allow users to have a look at their medical reports. Not only this, it will also allow users to manage their profiles as well medical appointments. The system is based on the Orion Health's consumer portal technology.

ACT pilots e-health records portal

Patients to register separately for PCEHR.

The ACT Government is trialling a new health information portal designed to deliver personal health information to consumers securely.
Health minister Katy Gallagher launched the 'My eHealth' portal this week with a pilot group of consumers from the Health Care Consumers Association and 40 chronic care patients.
The portal was designed to complement and integrate with the national Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system.

Health budget slashed by $3b

Date September 14, 2012 - 9:35AM

Sean Nicholls

Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor

Thousands of jobs may be axed from the NSW health service as part of deep budget cuts confirmed by the NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner.
Just days after the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, announced a $1.7 billion funding cut in his department, Mrs Skinner confirmed this morning that $3 billion will be cut from NSW health over the next four years.
This includes $775 million from the imposition of a "labour expense cap" announced for every government department in this year's budget.

NSW Health cuts deeper into staff costs

NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner has confirmed the government’s healthcare reforms will require its local health districts (LHDs) to cut $775 million in staffing costs over four years.
The announcement is the latest in a series of changes targeted at reducing NSW Health’s head office, administration and management expenses by 25 percent.
The minister explained in a statement LHDs can choose how the savings will be achieved and suggested telehealth and other ehealth technologies may deliver efficiencies.

Can we talk? Elderly needs drive face of future conversation

MEET the new face of human interaction: Telenoid the robot.
He's small, white and bears an eerie resemblance to Casper the Friendly Ghost but his creator, artist and academic Hiroshi Ishiguro, says soon he will be in every household and nursing home.
Ishiguro and his robotic friend are visiting Melbourne as part of RMIT Gallery's Experimenta -- 'Speak To Me' exhibition, featuring works from 30 international and Australian artists as part of the 5th International Biennial of Media Art.
Ishiguro's robot is -- basically speaking -- Android-Skype.

Passwords could be replaced with the wave of your hand

Date September 14, 2012

Noel Randewich

Prepare for your print to be your password

From the developers forum in California, Intel shows how palm recognition technology can work in practice.
Passwords for online banking, social networks and email could be replaced with the wave of a hand if prototype technology developed by Intel makes it to tablets and laptops.
Aiming to do away with the need to remember passwords for growing numbers of online services, Intel researchers have put together a tablet with new software and a biometric sensor that recognises the unique patterns of veins on a person's palm.

Bad medicine takes toll on Australians

  • Lisa Cornish and Sue Dunlevy
  • News Limited Network
  • September 15, 2012 12:04AM
THE top ten drugs used by Australians were linked to 2925 adverse events and 67 deaths in the last five years, an exclusive analysis of the adverse events data base of the national drug watchdog has found.
Information provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, collected from patients, consumers, health professionals and sponsors of medicines, reveal the risks Australians are exposed to on a daily basis.
Women are slightly  more prone than men to adverse effects, and the elderly are involved in more than 60 per cent of recorded cases.

FHIR Report from Baltimore Meeting

Posted on September 14, 2012 by Grahame Grieve
Well, the Baltimore HL7 Working Group Meeting has (finally) come to end. It’s been an extremely busy meeting, and HL7 is certainly facing some new and difficult challenges in the near future.
Now that it’s over, here’s my FHIR progress report.
Prior to the meeting, we held a draft for comment ballot. Combined with the issues list from the connectathon, and a few other late submissions, we around 130 issues on the list. These range from questions about the scope of FHIR write down to typographical errors. I thank everyone who contributed to this list greatly – it will help us improve the quality of the specification greatly. I hope that we can get all the issues resolved to everyone’s satisfaction prior to the release of the next ballot.

Astounding CT scan tech takes a quantum leap inside the human body

Summary: Astounding CT scan tech makes possible to scan the human body quickly, constructing Star Trek-like, 3D images of the inner workings of a living patient's body.
By Denise Amrich for ZDNet Health | September 10, 2012 -- 01:52 GMT (11:52 AEST)
Scott Bakula is one of my favorite actors, mostly because of the parts he's played. He's taken a Quantum Leap back in time, and gone years into the future as the first captain of the Enterprise.
But another Bakula, Robert Bakula, is an elderly patient who's taking a quantum leap of his own. A guy who was born in the last century is being treated with technology that seems transported from the future.

Get with digital 'or risk disaster'

A LARGE portion of Australia's $1.4 trillion economy faces severe, near-term disruptions due to the rise of the digital era, economics consultants Deloitte Access Economics says.
Business sectors representing up to a third of the economy are on course for major revenue disruptions within the next few years, the company says in a report released yesterday.
Finance, retail and media were singled out as the sectors facing the most severe short-term impact -- what Deloitte calls "short fuse, big bang".
It predicts that the three sectors could lose more than 35 per cent of their revenue within the next two years.

Digital disruption: it’s not about to stop

Negar Salek
Australian companies have between two and five years to master the onset of digital disruption if they are to avoid the troubles that have rocked the retail and media industries, a Deloitte report has found.
Education, government services, agriculture, health, transport, and utilities are expected to suffer significant disruption to their business models, the report states, but over a longer time frame than their counterparts in information technology, finance, and retail, which face a more imminent threat.
Miners, construction groups and many manufacturers have longer to prepare and face less incremental disruption. Education and health are also expected to have more time to plan their responses.

The Australian Law Council says Labor's data retention plans go too far

FEDERAL government plans to make telcos store records of their customers' internet habits for two years would breach Australian cultural boundaries, the Law Council says.
Speaking on behalf of the council at a Senate committee hearing on the proposed laws today, Philip Bolton SC said the proposed laws were out of proportion to problems faced by law enforcement agencies.
He also criticised what he saw as a lack transparency on the part of the government regarding the new laws at the hearing.
The proposed package of laws are designed to address serious law enforcement challenges created by internet-based communications and require major reforms to Australia's telecommunications interception and intelligence legislation.

Curiosity ready to roll again

  • From: AP
  • September 13, 2012 12:38PM
THE Mars rover Curiosity is preparing to roll again after it completes its health checkups, project managers say.
Since landing in an ancient crater near the Martian equator on August 5, the car-size rover has trekked more than the length of a football field, leaving wheel tracks in the soil.
The most high-tech rover sent to the red planet, it spent the past month testing its instruments before embarking on a mission to examine whether the environment could have been hospitable to microbial life.
Mission manager Jennifer Trosper said the six-wheel Curiosity has "performed almost flawlessly" so far.