Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 05th November, 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 story that just keeps giving has reared its head again. The Qld Health Payroll project has had a lot of news and discussion during the week with corruption allegations, cabinet documents being released early and so on. It now seems that it will drag on and on into the foreseeable future. Will this be what we see when the NEHRS / PCEHR turns up its toes at some point in the future? I wonder.
Other than that the NEHTA Chairman (Mr Gonski) has shown his deep involvement in the health sector by supporting the Future Fund (which he also chairs) owning Tobacco Shares. Pretty sad I reckon.
Lots of other bits and pieces as well as the award of the PM’s Science Prize going to the discoverer of dark matter. Well done Professor Freeman!
We should also see NEHTA’s 2011-2012 Annual Report (the glossy one) this week if there are enough staff left to take all those pictures left.

E-health sows seeds of confusion

31 October, 2012 Sarah Colyer
It appears not even the Federal Government’s own e-health helpline staff know how to register practices for the system, with a practice manager who rang the line referred instead to the 40-page Healthcare Identifiers Act.
Helen Portus, practice manager at Moss Vale Medical Centre, thought it would be easy to sign her practice up for a healthcare identifier — mandatory for practices wanting to receive the Practice Incentive Program eHealth incentive from February next year.

Rebates slashed: rural GPs forced to cut telehealth

30th Oct 2012
GPs in regional cities and outer metropolitan areas are preparing to scale back their telehealth services – including one scheme to get regional children seen by city hospital specialists – after the federal government unexpectedly cut access to Medicare rebates.
In the mid-year budget update last week, Treasurer Wayne Swan unveiled sweeping cost-cutting measures to achieve the government’s promised budget surplus next year, including withholding telehealth items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from patients in outer metropolitan areas and major cities of Australia.
It came just 16 months after former health minister Nicola Roxon announced more than 20 telehealth MBS items – including a $6000 incentive for GPs – declaring that “ensuring telehealth services are available around the country is critical to delivering quality health care to all Australians so generous financial incentives to encourage all health professionals to incorporate telehealth services into their day to day practice… will be provided”.

NEHTA job cuts gather pace

The federal government’s lead agency for executing its ehealth agenda is undergoing further restructuring with cuts to nine percent of its total workforce.
The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has confirmed a program of staffing reductions has been in place since the Personally Controlled Electronic Record (PCEHR) system went live on 1 July to accept individual registrations.

Labor let IBM off after IT bungle on pay system

  • From: The Australian
  • November 01, 2012 12:00AM
PREVIOUSLY secret papers show computer giant IBM was let off the hook over the nation's most notorious government IT bungle when the former state Labor government in Queensland promised not to sue it over the delivery of the health payroll system.
In what it described as an "unprecedented" move, Queensland's Labor opposition yesterday tabled in parliament hundreds of pages of confidential cabinet documents, revealing that while in government it had executed a "supplemental agreement" with IBM releasing the company from potential damages claims for "late and defective delivery".
The documents show the September 22, 2010 agreement came despite the government's admission its "preferred position" was not to release the company from liability.

Collusion claims in Qld payroll bungle

Date November 2, 2012 - 10:37AM
Consultants colluded with the former Queensland government's IT provider to ensure IBM won the contract for the disastrous health payroll system, a whistleblower says.
The whistleblower, who has not been named, said she worked on the Bligh government project and its failure was set in stone as far back as 2007.
She claims there was collusion, driven by vested interests, among consultants hired to work on the project and the government's internal IT provider CorpTech.
She says people within CorpTech passed information to IBM to ensure it had an advantage in the bid for the contract.

A wad of payroll secrets - but what do they mean?

Date November 3, 2012 - 4:00AM

Daniel Hurst state political reporter

Journalists have spent the past few days poring through legal advice over the Queensland Health payroll debacle.
Some 850 pages of secret health payroll documents – including fiery letters, sensitive cabinet decisions, legal advice and technical breach claims – have now been placed into the public domain.
The release of such a large cache of confidential Queensland cabinet documents – just a year or two after the controversial events described – is a big deal.
Journalists and political staffers have spent the past few days poring over the documents looking for what they reveal about the escalating dispute between the former Bligh government and contractor IBM over the troubled rollout of a new payroll system that failed to pay health employees properly and ended up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to fix.

Secret Cabinet documents emerge as Labor tries to fend off inquiry over Queensland Health payroll

A FORMER Labor minister has branded the proposed inquiry into the Queensland Health payroll debacle as nothing more than a "political witchhunt".
Robert Schwarten, a long-running Public Works minister who retired at the last election, said the inquiry was a concocted distraction aimed at drawing attention away from the myriad of woes being suffered by an incompetent administration.
His comments follow the revelation State Parliament's Health and Community Services Committee proposed a royal commission-style inquiry into the fiasco or undertaking its own investigation.

Inquiry to demand truth in Health payroll scandal

FORMER ministers, senior bureaucrats and contractors involved in the Queensland Health payroll fiasco could be compelled to give evidence to an inquiry about the debacle.
A parliamentary committee has proposed a royal commission-style inquiry into the long-running scandal, which has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and left thousands of workers overpaid or short-changed.
The recommendation by the LNP-dominated committee is likely to be condemned as a bid to deflect damage from the ongoing scandal involving Transport and Main Roads director-general Michael Caltabiano and Arts Minister Ros Bates.

Gonski defends Future Fund credentials and tobacco share holdings

Date October 30, 2012

Clancy Yeates

FUTURE Fund chairman David Gonski has sought to defend the fund's social and environmental credentials, responding to criticism of its contentious stake in the tobacco industry.
Mr Gonski, one of the best-connected businessmen in corporate Australia, also said he had bolstered the fund's handling of conflicts of interest since he began running the $80.5 billion investment giant in March.

Complaints over software upgrade

30 October, 2012 Sarah Colyer
The makers of Medical Director have played down the number of complaints about the latest upgrade of the software, saying most GPs are not encountering problems.
Australian Doctor was contacted by three GPs on Monday complaining about the new MD 3.14 release, which was released on 18 September.
“Utter frustration. Letters not saving ... It’s turned us from an efficient highly organised practice into a bunch of blithering idiots,” one GP said.
Another commented: “Crashing, crashing, crashing. Every fifteen minutes to half hour ...It’s slow. It doesn’t save information. Pathology results appear out of sequence. You can’t flick from one result to the next. Any referral letter I’ve written today can’t be saved.”

Fred IT Group turns 20!

2 November, 2012 Chris Brooker  
Fred IT Group has celebrated its twentieth birthday this November, kicking off a year of celebrations to mark the milestone.
The company’s launch in 1992 to develop pharmacist-friendly dispensing software led to Fred Dispense, now the dispensing choice of more than 53 per cent of all Australian pharmacies.
It has also seen the company take a leadership role in some of the biggest shifts to hit the industry over the past two decades, including the transition to PBS Online, the development of national electronic prescriptions with eRx, and leading the creation of the national medicines repository backbone of the PCEHR (MedView).

Assurance sought on data retention plan

A JOINT parliamentary committee examining Labor’s controversial data retention plans has again sought assurances on the vexed question of what it wants stored.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and her department have repeatedly said that the plan only involves metadata about communications, which they defined as information "about" communications and not content.
However, department secretary Roger Wilkins had difficulty reassuring the committee that it was workable at a sixth hearing of its inquiry in Canberra today.

GP helpline seeks role in disease management

29 October, 2012 Julie Robotham
The national after-hours GP helpline could be expanded to become a “proactive service” to help chronic disease patients manage their condition and provide assistance to the aged care sector, a senior executive told a GP12 audience last week.
Leonie Katelar said the telephone service, which has fielded more than 200,000 calls since it began last July, was now moving towards secure messaging and videoconferencing consultations and hoped eventually to connect to the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR). This would allow it to be integrated with health services more widely.

Zedmed v20- Now Available

30 October 2012
Zedmed v20 is now available for download from our Client Login area.
Our new version supports:
·         PCEHR access and functionality
·         Multiple observations can be entered and recorded within the one encounter
·         New Merge fields for Medicare & DVA Expiry Dates, and much more.

Implants create spark of hope for the paralysed

  • by: The Times
  • From: The Times
  • October 29, 2012 12:00AM
AN American paralysed from the chest down has recovered the ability to stand and move his legs unaided after his damaged spine was retrained using electrical stimulation.
Andrew Meas, 33, of Louisville, Kentucky, was able to stand almost immediately after electrodes implanted into his lower spine were switched on. But it is the fact that he has some movement even when the implant is turned off that has astonished scientists.
The results indicate that the spine could be capable of recovery years after being damaged.

The healthcare case for big data

Summary: Imagine a chip that can be inserted into a pill dispenser in a patient's home. The machine would then read the data stored in the chip and automatically dispense the required prescription.
By Eileen Yu for By The Way | November 2, 2012 -- 06:49 GMT (17:49 AEST)
I recently accompanied someone to the local hospital who needed to go through a series of tests to determine the cause of a ailment. During the consult, the specialist was dishing out instructions on how to prep for the next examination. 
The patient was taking daily medication for his high blood pressure, but would have to stop taking them in the two weeks leading up to the test as the pills could affect the results. To maintain his blood pressure at a healthy level, in the absence of his regular meds, the specialist explained he would need to take a different prescription. This would only be necessary for the two weeks before the day of the test, after which he would have to return to his regular pills.

Conflicts still plague guidelines

TRANSPARENCY problems continue to plague clinical practice guidelines, with experts in Australia and the US saying it is time to enforce disclosure by making it a condition of approving the guidelines.
The call comes on the back of a US survey of guidelines that found fewer than half included information on conflicts of interest (COI).
The survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, also found that fewer than half of the guidelines met more than 50% of a new US guidelines standard. (1)

Putting medical apps through their paces

A SMARTPHONE app that simulates an ashtray and is supposedly designed to discourage smoking in fact does the opposite, say health experts.
APP NAME: MyAshtray.
COST: Free.

IBM Australia crashes on back of revenue failure

IBM Australia has recorded one of its worst quarterly results in its history, with profit plunging by 62 per cent on the back of a sharp decline in its money-spinning global technology services unit and a dispute with major client BHP Billiton.
Staff at the technology giant who gathered for briefings last week were given a scathing assessment of the situation. IBM managing director Andrew Stevens didn't mince his words when he said "we were wiped out" in the third quarter.
Employees were told that IBM had suffered a double-digit decline in key metrics and across all but one brand as the sales pipeline simply did not support revenue forecasts.

Essential users guide to Windows 8

With the launch of Windows 8, people are about to discover a computing experience unlike anything they've seen before.
  • AAP (AAP)
  • 29 October, 2012 08:26
With the launch of Windows 8, people are about to discover a computing experience unlike anything they've seen before.
Here's a guide to getting past some of the hurdles.
The main thing to know is that Windows 8 is designed especially for touch screen computers, to make desktops and laptops work more like tablets. It is Microsoft's way of addressing the popularity of tablets, namely the iPad. But Windows 8 will work with mouse and keyboard shortcuts, too. It'll take some getting used to, though.

Gartner reveals top predictions for IT organisations and users for 2013

October 29, 2012
Gartner has revealed its top predictions for IT organisations and IT users for 2013 and beyond at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, being held in Orlando, and coming to the Gold Coast in Australia next month.
By Year-End 2014, three of the top five mobile handset vendors will be Chinese
Mobile phone penetration in emerging markets has resulted in a changing of the guard in terms of the leading vendors. The openness of Android creates new markets for OEMs that previously did not have the necessary software expertise and engineering capabilities. The market continues to consolidate around Android and iOS, with other ecosystems struggling to gain traction, and, with most vendors committed to Android, it has become difficult to differentiate. The result is that the traditional mobile phone players are getting squeezed, being unable to compete with Apple and Samsung at the high end and struggling to differentiate from aggressive new vendors, most notably Huawei and ZTE, which are using the same Android platform for their models. Chinese vendors have the opportunity to leverage their strong position in the domestic Chinese market for entry-level smartphones and expand to other regions, because this is not just an emerging-market phenomenon.

Scientist wins $300,000 prize for looking at nothing

Date November 1, 2012

Bridie Smith

Science and Technology Reporter, The Age

DESPITE it being invisible, dark matter has been placed on the galactic map by astronomer Ken Freeman — in the process placing him among international astronomy's brightest stars.
Professor Freeman's work established there is substantially more to galaxies than can be seen by the human eye. In fact, the stars, gasses and dust are just a fraction of what is out there. The bulk is invisible, dark matter.
First outlined in a paper in 1970, Professor Freeman's research was not without its critics. "I don't think any of the papers of that period were received with total enthusiasm but that's kind of how it should be," he said.