Friday, October 24, 2014

Medicare Locals Go As The Primary Care Networks Start Mid Next Year. E-Health Implications?

A few days ago the borders for the 30 new Primary Health Networks (PHN) which will replace the 61 Medicare Locals were announced.
Here is the link:
The most interesting part of this transition I find is this description of what these new PHNs will do.
Here is what the Department of Health says:

What will PHNs do?

The PHN name reflects the critical role they will play in networking health services across local communities so that patients, particularly those needing coordinated care, have the best access to a range of health care providers, including practitioners, community health services and hospitals.
PHNs will achieve this by working directly with GPs, other primary care providers, secondary care providers and hospitals. Care will be better coordinated across the local health system so that patients requiring help from multiple providers receive the right care in the right place at the right time. PHNs will work with other funders of services and purchase or commission high quality, locally relevant and effective services for groups of patients at risk of poor outcomes.
PHNs will assist in facilitating reform of the primary health care system. They will have a key role in trialling innovative ways of funding and integrated health service delivery models that align with national priorities and assessed regional needs.
PHNs will -
·         understand the health needs of their local communities through analysis and planning. They’ll know what services and resources are available and help to identify and plug service gaps where needed, while getting value for money for taxpayers’ dollars;
·         help general practices with support services so they are better able to provide services to patients subsidised through the MBS and PBS and help patients to avoid having to go to emergency departments or being admitted to hospital for conditions that can be effectively managed outside of hospitals;
·         support general practices in attaining the highest standards in safety and quality through showcasing research and evidence of best practice. This includes collecting and reporting data to support continuous improvement;
·         assist GPs in understanding and making meaningful use of eHealth systems, in order to streamline the flow of relevant patient information across the local health provider community; and
·         work with other funders of services and purchase or commission medical/clinical services for local groups most in need, including, for example, patients with complex chronic disease or mental illness.
PHN will be able to purchase services. This might include using local providers or seeking new providers where a market does not already exist. Where it is not possible to purchase services due to market failure, with permission of the Department of Health, the PHN may provide services. PHNs may also provide some services for a short period as part of the transition from Medicare Locals.
Here is the link to the full document:
The part I found fascinating was this paragraph:
·         assist GPs in understanding and making meaningful use of eHealth systems, in order to streamline the flow of relevant patient information across the local health provider community;
So it seems e-health is to focus on information flows between providers. Not a hint of the PCEHR anywhere!
What an excellent plan. Given how recent this document is (15 October, 2014) is DoH telling us something?
Leaks and additional info welcome!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 23rd October 2014. No Sign Of Stopping!

Budget Night was on Tuesday 13th May, 2014 and the fuss has still not settled by a long shot.
It is amazing how the discussion on the GP Co-Payment just runs and runs. Some more this week.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this 21st week since it was released.
Clearly Ebola and the Government Response and the new Primary Health Networks got a lot of coverage in the press this week.
The House of Reps returned a few days ago and the Senate comes back 27th October so we will see how we go!


Bill Shorten says Treasurer Joe Hockey 'desperate'

Date October 11, 2014 - 10:13PM
Treasurer Joe Hockey is a desperate man, running out of time to justify his budget - but that doesn't explain why he's trying to tie Australia's intervention in Iraq to its passing, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.
Mr Hockey made headlines this week when, while speaking about the impact of the Iraq deployment on the budget, he said the government would "spend what we need to spend to defend our nation".
But he said the added expense was "another good reason" for Labor to back the government's controversial budget measures.

Surplus continues to elude successive governments

Date October 11, 2014 - 10:00PM

Paul Malone

On the last sitting day of the House of Representatives, the former Treasurer Wayne Swan was ejected from the chamber.
Responding to a provocative jibe by the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, that in all the 400 pages of Swan's book on his time as treasurer he had not mentioned the word "surplus" once, Swan cut in.
"Madam Speaker," he said, "I rise on a point of order. That is a lie." 
Knowing full well the consequences of his actions, Swan refused to withdraw and was ordered out of the House by Speaker Bronwyn Bishop.

Budget pain and senate strife

If the federal government manages to pass most of its new initiatives it will prove devastating for lower-income earners – particularly those with children. According to new research, single parents with children could see their household income cut by over 10 per cent by 2017-18.
The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) has released new modelling on the economic and distributional effects of the 2014-15 federal budget. They find that the impact of the budget “falls most heavily on low and middle income families with children.” The impact is significant but manageable in 2014-15 but blows out considerably by the 2017-18 financial year.
By comparison, higher income families with and without children are relatively unaffected by the budget in the short and long-term. In fact for this cohort, the federal budget largely leaves them better off by 2017-18 than under the previous Labor budget.

Editorial - Monday, October 13: Budget proves a stinker

David Moase | 13th Oct 2014 3:00 AM
IT IS five months since Joe Hockey put forward the Federal Coalition Government's first Budget, but the bulk of the key cost-saving measures don't seem any closer to passing through parliament.
Mr Hockey was on television yesterday baiting the Opposition to pass the changes and threatening more welfare cuts to replace any savings that aren't ticked off in the Senate.
But after five months it is clear the Treasurer still doesn't get why his Budget has proven so unpopular and why he can't raise support from the crossbenches.
The Budget has failed the sniff test.

Whichever way you cut it, the federal budget hurts the poorest hardest

The study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that in this financial year, 99.8% of households are worse off after the budget
A study released last week confirms that the May budget will hit the poorest households hardest and is particularly harsh towards families. Even with the benefit of a removed carbon price, by 2017-18 the people worst affected by the government’s policies will be the poorest.
The study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (Natsem) provides a dollar impact of the budget on different households. In the past, a version of this information was provided in the budget papers, however this year such a table was left out.
Its omission could be due to the budget hitting all households and low-income households also being the worst hit.

Hockey warns of massive industrial change

Shane Wright Economics Editor The West Australian October 14, 2014, 7:46 am
Joe Hockey has signalled the Government will press ahead with plans to cut taxes while warning the country faces massive industrial change over coming years.
In a speech in London, the Treasurer also defended some of his Budget measures as vital to restoring the nation's finances and putting it in position to weather future economic challenges.
It was at a similar speech two years ago that Mr Hockey claimed a coalition government would end the "age of entitlement".

Tale of two cities

By Katherine Fenech

Oct. 14, 2014, 1:38 p.m.
WHEN releasing his federal budget Treasurer Joe Hockey warned that "heavy lifting" would be needed to bring the economy back to surplus.
But it seems Campbelltown is doing a lot more of that lifting than Joe Hockey's north shore seat.
The University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) released its report on the budget on Friday, revealing local households will be much worse off than their north shore and eastern suburbs counterparts by 2017-18.
Families in the seat of Werriwa, held by Labor's Laurie Ferguson, would lose $859.80 of their income, while those in Liberal MP Russell Matheson's electorate of Macarthur would be $494.30 worse off.

Medical Research.

Melbourne’s genius medical researchers spend most of their time having to find funding

  • Brigid O’Connell
  • Herald Sun
  • October 10, 2014 9:10PM
INSIDE a nondescript annex at the end of a St Vincent’s Hospital rabbit warren, balls of cartilage are being grown.
Barely 700m down the road, the Bionics Institute is preparing to test a brain implant device on a first patient, with the aim of controlling Parkinson’s disease tremors.
Across the city in Parkville, at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Dr Kath Jackman has been lured back to Australia from the US to work on cracking the brain’s “security system”, the blood-brain barrier.
Over the road, a Royal Melbourne Hospital neurology trainee and a University of Melbourne biomedical engineer have the backing of the US military to develop a “bionic spinal cord” that would allow quadriplegics and stroke patients to control robotic limbs by thought.


Ebola assault sees Shorten end unity on foreign affairs

Stefanie Balogh

BILL Shorten has opened the deepest political divide in Aus­tralia’s approach to an inter­national crisis in more than a decade, ­accusing the Abbott government of sleepwalking through the Ebola outbreak.
Labor’s break from bipartisanship on the global contagion marks the most significant diplomatic fault line on foreign affairs between the major parties since former opposition leader Simon Crean refused to back John Howard on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Opposition Leader yesterday swung in behind his deputy to echo Tanya Plibersek’s demands for the government to do more, including dispatching health workers to West Africa to help contain the disease before it reaches Australia and becomes “an unfolding international calamity’’.
“Doing nothing is not a recipe for a bipartisan approach,’’ Mr Shorten said. “Australia cannot sleepwalk its way through this Ebola crisis and leave dealing with it, I believe, to everyone else. That is a lack of leadership.

Queensland ramps up measures to deal with Ebola

  • Daryl Passmore
  • The Courier-Mail
  • October 17, 2014 2:04PM
QUEENSLAND will next week take delivery of three ISO-POD units to safely transport Ebola patients as health chiefs nationwide ramp up preparations to deal with any potential outbreak.
The specialist equipment will be based in Brisbane and deployed as and when necessary to fly patients to hospitals with the necessary facilities to treat cases in high-level isolation.
One ISO-POD was borrowed from the Royal Flying Doctor service in Western Australia last week following the Ebola scare involving Cairns nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack who developed a fever after recently returning from a volunteer stint in Sierra Leone.

'We made mistakes,' Dallas health boss says of Ebola crisis

Date October 17, 2014

Nick Allen

Dallas: The hospital at the centre of the United States' Ebola outbreak admitted it made mistakes and has apologised, as a whistleblowing nurse described scenes of "chaos" there.
Thomas Duncan, 42, the first person to be diagnosed with the disease in the US, died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on October 8 and two nurses who treated him - Nina Pham and Amber Vinson - contracted the virus.
Speaking at a congressional hearing in Washington, Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas state health resources, the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said: "We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry. Despite our best intentions, and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes."

GP Co-Payment.

Abbott's tax 'will see cancer patients pay huge fees'

Joel Gould | 14th Oct 2014 4:00 AM Updated: 6:04 AM
UPFRONT fees for cancer patients will be a hidden cost of the Abbott Government's GP co-payment package, according to an independent body.
The Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA) says patients will be forced to pay $90 upfront for every X-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the costs, "a hidden trap in the Abbott Government's GP Tax package, will force many cancer patients in Ipswich to pay extraordinary fees upfront, even those on healthcare and pensioner concession cards".
But the claims have been refuted by the office of Minister for Health Peter Dutton. A spokesman for Mr Dutton said individual diagnostic providers would decide what they charge under the government's plan, as they do now.

Gosford Council to write to federal government opposing GP co-payment

  • Geraldine Cardozo
  • Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
  • October 16, 2014 12:00AM
The  Federal Government’s proposed $7 GP co-payment has been given the thumbs down by Gosford Council.
The council voted on Tuesday night to oppose the introduction of the proposed Medicare levy.
Greens councillor Hillary Morris gave an impassioned speech urging fellow councillors to support her motion to write to Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton, ­Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Greens Leader Christine Milne and Palmer United Party Leader Clive Palmer to express opposition to the levy.

Pharmacy Related Articles.

Radical proposals to change 6CPA remuneration

13 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
Radical new sources of pharmacy revenue could be funded from the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement if a comprehensive new PSA blueprint is adopted.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has released a discussion paper Better health outcomes through improved primary care: Optimising pharmacy’s contribution, in which it both calls for a greater role in the 6CPA process, and advocates a realignment of the agreement towards a much greater focus on professional services.
Described by PSA sources as “evolution not revolution”, the document envisages the current Part B of the Community Pharmacy Agreement – covering professional services – “as an integrated suite of pharmacy services linked with population health objectives and primary care services”.

Victorian inquiry recommends expanded pharmacist role

14 October, 2014 Christie Moffat
A parliamentary inquiry has recommended an expanded role for Victorian pharmacists in primary care, including the establishment of a flu immunisation trial and a minor ailments scheme in rural Victoria.
The Legal and Social Issues Legislation Committee released a report outlining opportunities for community pharmacists to play a greater role in taking pressure off the Victorian health system.

AMA shirtfronts Vic pharmacy plans

15 October, 2014 Amanda Davey
The AMA has strongly criticised parliamentary recommendations for Victoria’s pharmacists to conduct a flu immunisation trial and treat minor ailments in rural areas.
“Doctors must remain at the centre of care, not as a second opinion,” says AMA Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone.
"Any decision which seeks to provide a substitute for a qualified doctor is a wrong decision."
Victoria’s legal and social issues committee believe pharmacists can take pressure off the state health system, and the trial could be in place before the start of the next flu season.

AMA criticism won’t stop collaboration, pharmacists say

16 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
Pharmacists have responded strongly to the latest AMA criticisms of plans to expand the clinical service role of the profession.
As reported yesterday, AMA chair of general practice, Dr Brian Morton (pictured), was vehement in his criticism of pharmacy taking on additional roles, such as vaccination, as had been proposed by a Victorian parliamentary committee.
“This is not in their scope of practice, and a half day of [vaccination] training is simply inadequate,” he said. “Where will they vaccinate and treat these patients - between the toilet paper and the toothpaste?”
However, Pharmacy News readers have responded constructively to the AMA comments.

Medicare Locals.

ACT Medicare Local to bid to keep its role in the new world of Health Networks

ACT Medicare Local (ACTML) has welcomed the announcement by the Commonwealth Government that one Primary Health Network (PHN) will be set up in the ACT.
ACTML Chair Dr Rashmi Sharma said it’s reassuring to consumers and health professionals that the boundary for the ACT PHN remains the same.
“We welcome the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to the importance of a strong primary health care system. As we all know, a locally coordinated and governed system of primary health care plays a critical role in containing the rapid growth of hospital and other high cost care in the face of the challenges such as avoidable hospital admissions and ED care, chronic and complex disease, an ageing population and mental health issues,” said Dr Sharma.

Medicare Locals to become 30 Primary Health Networks

16 October, 2014 Tessa Hoffman
Thirty new Primary Health Networks will replace the 61 soon-to-be-defunded Medicare Locals, the Federal Government has revealed.
On Wednesday, the government finally released the boundaries for the new organisations, which will be rolled out from next year.
There is still uncertainty about how the much-hyped Primary Health Network reform will differ from its predecessor.
But the boundary shake-up, which will see one network each in the ACT, NT and Tasmania, is detailed in a map on the Federal Department of Health's website.

Primary Health Network boundaries announced

15th Oct 2014
Julie Lambert
Flynn Murphy
THE government has announced 30 Primary Health Networks will replace the 61 Medicare Locals it defunded in the May federal budget.
A series of maps quietly uploaded to the health department's website today show the 17 Medicare Locals in NSW will be replaced with nine larger Primary Health Networks, and the 17 MLs in Victoria will drop to six PHNs.
WA will have three PHNs (down from eight) and South Australia will have two (from five). Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT will retain a single zone each.
In Queensland, the door has been left open for the state’s largest PHN, Western Queensland, to be combined with one of three adjacent PHNs in the tender process.

Primary Health Networks – an opportunity for the AMA to make some money, expand its influence?

Melissa Sweet | Oct 16, 2014 2:29PM
Now that some details about the 30 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) have been released, it might be timely to see some serious analysis of who are the winners and the losers amid the considerable upheaval and waste involved in shifting from Medicare Locals to PHNs. 
That is one warts-and-all analysis I would very much like to read.
In the meantime, the letter below – sent from AMA Victoria to all Medicare Locals in that State – shows the AMA is positioning itself to be one of the winners from the shift, offering to assist consortia pitching to become PHNs (so long as they are committed to working collaboratively with the AMA) – for the tidy fee of $10,000.

Private health insurance in primary health care – what do the experts think?

Jennifer Doggett | Oct 13, 2014 11:53PM |
One of the major policy changes on the agenda of the Federal Government is the introduction of private health insurance (PHI) into primary health care.  This has been flagged by Peter Dutton in a number of speeches and media interviews and was also recommended by the Competition Policy Review.  While the exact role the Government has mind for PHI in primary health care is not clear, both BUPA and Medibank have already started to expand their activities in this sector. 
This policy direction has generated a robust debate with supporters of the Competition Policy Review position arguing that many of the intractable problems within primary health care (such as how to improve chronic disease management) could benefit from greater competition and innovation and others expressing concern about the impact of private funders on equity and access to care.
I also have to say reading all the articles I still have no idea what is actually going to happen with the Budget at the end of the day. Maybe the next few weeks of parliament will clarify this time.
To remind readers there is also a great deal of useful health discussion here from The Conversation.
Also a huge section on the overall budget found here:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Live Blog - Senate Estimates - Community Affairs Committee. October 22 2014. Senate Just Ignores E-Health. We All Need To Just Give Up!

I thought I would take a few rough notes for readers here. E & O E!

Relevant Section -Outcome 7 - E-Health Started 08:34 pm.

Lots of waffle on NICNAS and FSANZ. (Chemicals and Cosmetics!!)

8:58 pm Moved on to TGA.

Refused to discuss medical cannabis….. Questions since June from all sorts of Senators.

Australian Medical Devices are now more able to get easier conformity assessment if approved in EU or, I assume, US.

Outcome 7 - Finished at 9:14pm.

We know where e-Health is heading now - Into Oblivion!

Sleep Well and what a farce - zero accountability!


It Seems Practice Management System Vendors Have Been Warned There Are Significant Issues With The PCEHR That Won't Be Fixed Until December 2014.

This alert was sent out today. I am told many system providers (not just Genie) are affected.

Potential issue with PCEHR overviews

We have been alerted by the Department of Health about a potential risk identified within the PCEHR system. This is impacting the way a small number of documents can be viewed in an eHealth record.
This issue results in some Medicare, prescription and dispense documents presenting in the Document List but not appearing in the Medicare Overview or the Prescription and Dispense View.
A permanent solution for this issue has been identified and will be implemented in December 2014 by the Department of Health.
In the meantime, please do not rely on the Medicare Overview or Prescription and Dispense View within the Genie PCEHR-viewer to necessarily provide a complete list of information from a patient's eHealth record. It is recommended that you use the Document List to view all documents.

Here is the link:

This looks to me to have potential safety of use of the PCEHR issues surrounding it. I wonder why there is not an alert on the Department web site and why there is not a press release from the Minister? (Nothing found as of time of writing on the DoH Site)

One really wonders why it needs so long to be rectified?



Senate Estimates Alert - e-Health Scheduled 3:10pm -4pm Today 22/10/2014

To watch go to the following link:

Then select the Watch Parliament Tab and click on Senate Estimates / Community Affairs Hearing.



Late Update - Committee is running very, very late.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Edward Gough Whitlam - My Thanks


For getting rid of conscription (yes I was sucked in), providing major changes to health and education (yes I really benefited) and getting rid of the death penalty - many thanks!

We won't see his likes again I believe. The meanness we now see in public policy just shows how badly we are presently led - IMVHO. We can care and fund things - but no one wants to try!

Pity about that.


Ebola And Technology Intersect With Hopefully Some Useful Outcomes.

This appeared a day or so ago.

CDC, ONC Target EHR-Based Ebola Screening

OCT 17, 2014 7:30am ET
An initiative launched last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to help providers meet Stage 1 and 2 meaningful use public health objectives is now focusing its efforts on Ebola electronic screening tools.
In August 2013, CDC and ONC established the Public Health Electronic Health Records Vendors Collaboration Initiative. However, with recently confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, the initiative—which includes public health practitioners and EHR vendors—is currently aimed at trying to get vendors to configure EHR systems to support screening protocols for the deadly disease.
“The overall goal here is for us to explore ways in which the electronic medical record can serve as a prompt to help our healthcare professionals around the country identify individuals that may be at risk for Ebola,” said Dana Meaney Delman, M.D., deputy lead of CDC’s Medical Care Task Force (Ebola Response), during an Oct. 16 CDC/ONC webinar soliciting industry feedback.
“This is a special edition of our normal community of practice calls that we hold with public health and the EHR vendor community,” added Jim Daniel, public health coordinator at ONC. “We do meet on a monthly basis. Please send an email to so you can join this group. We talk about other public health and meaningful use measures normally, and we’ll be focusing on Ebola as long as we need to.”
According to a statement from the group, “the EHR vendor community has responded with components within their respective tools to address Ebola and assist within a healthcare environment.” Jon White, M.D., ONC’s acting chief medical officer, told the webinar audience on Thursday that CDC and ONC will be having a separate follow-on call with members of the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association to gain input.
The CDC has developed a clinical algorithm for “evaluation of the returned traveler” and a checklist for patients being evaluated in the U.S. for Ebola. The objective of the Public Health EHR Vendors Collaboration Initiative is to include a travel history and assessment of pertinent clinical signs and symptoms in an electronic format that can help clinicians diagnose patients infected with Ebola and to isolate them. According to Delman, CDC wants to “ensure that there are mechanisms for healthcare providers to rapidly identify individuals that may have suspected Ebola” and “how we can translate this algorithm into an electronic medical record prompt and perhaps even a decisional tool.”
More here:
This is a really sensible idea. I wonder can the major providers of practice systems in Australia tweak their systems, as a precaution, to achieve a similar outcome.
Surely our tightwad government could manage to stump up a few $ for the vendors to make some carefully considered changes to make sure the right questions are asked early and that the responses are optimal. The small investment they may make might turn out to be the smartest thing they have ever done.
The whole thing becomes even more urgent when we see the issues that have arisen with some system in the US.
Here is a typical link

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 20th October, 2014.

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

Another quiet and pretty news less week. Lots of private sector activity but the Government is just a black hole with no light or information escaping!
Interesting to see Google Glass gradually becoming more mainstream. The impact of health is far from clear and we will only see what the outcome of the technology a good few years from now.

Epic Pharmacy injects $1.5 million into Flamingo for healthcare VRM software

Epic Pharmacy managing partner Cathie Reid to join Flamingo board
Adam Bender (Computerworld) on 14 October, 2014 13:48
Epic Pharmacy has invested $1.5 million in Flamingo, an Australian developer of vendor relationship management (VRM) software.
Under the agreement, Epic – which provides hospital, oncology and aged care pharmacy services – and Flamingo will co-create healthcare services for Australian consumers.
The cloud-based Flamingo software is meant to aid businesses in their retention efforts by connecting the business and customer in a “co-creation laboratory” in which customers can customise how they interact with the company, what they’re looking for in the product, and other elements of the customer service experience.

How social media is changing the healthcare landscape

There seems to be a significant growth of social media usage in the Australian healthcare industry.
In the past years we have seen surprisingly influential social media campaigns, like AHPRAaction, ScrapTheCap, InternCrisis, and very recently NoAdsPlease. These campaigns not only rally for better health care policies; they also signal a shift towards more transparency and accountability.
Characteristics of the social media campaigns are:
  • They spread quickly and generate a lot of media attention
  • The participants are very passionate about their cause
  • They are often supported by different groups including consumers
  • They may or may not be supported by professional organisations
  • They are very effective.

Victorian emergency services’ dispatch system upgraded in response to audit

Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) spends $13 million on computer aided dispatch (CAD)
Hamish Barwick (Computerworld) on 14 October, 2014 16:30
An audit of Victorian emergency response ICT systems by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has led to a $13 million upgrade of a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and associated networks.
The upgrade was completed on 1 October, 2014 and is designed to improved network and CAD resilience. In addition, $15 million has been earmarked this year to upgrade the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ETSA) telephony system for call-taking and dispatch.
An ESTA spokeswoman said that the CAD upgrades now mean that there is greater functionality for call-takers and dispatch staff, more robust technical infrastructure, improved disaster recovery and increased network redundancy across the network to make it more reliable.
15 October 2014

Australian manufacturers of medical devices given a level playing field

The Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, today confirmed that, under the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, new regulations will be introduced to allow Australian manufacturers to obtain market approval for most medical devices using conformity assessment certification from European notified bodies.
“With these changes, Australian manufacturers can choose to either have conformity assessment conducted by the TGA or an alternative conformity assessment body, such as a European notified body," Minister Nash said.  
“This will cut red tape, provide more flexibility for local medical device manufacturers and, in many cases, enable devices to get to market more quickly, which will benefit the public.” 

National launch of vital signs 2014: the State of safety and quality in Australian health care

Professor Villis Marshall, Chair of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, today released Vital Signs 2014: The State of Safety and Quality in Australian Health Care.
 Vital Signs 2014 provides an overview of a series of key topics in relation to the safety and quality of Australia’s health care system.
Professor Marshall said “Vital Signs 2014 is structured around three important questions that members of the public may ask about their health care. Will my care be safe? Will I get the right care? Will I be a partner in my care?”
Each question is considered in its own section using examples of key health issues in Australia, such as healthcare associated infections, dementia and delirium, and health literacy. These sections are followed by two case studies, which focus on the quality of care in some important clinical areas. These case studies present a detailed description and analysis of key quality issues that affect outcomes for patients.

Performance data caution

Sarah Colyer
Monday, 13 October, 2014
A SURVEY of senior US hospital managers has reinforced concerns about the worldwide trend to publish hospital performance outcomes on websites such as MyHospitals, with claims by the study participants that the measures used are meaningless.
The survey, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, obtained responses from chief medical officers and other leading executives at 380 US hospitals, who were asked about America’s Hospital Compare website. (1)
Hospital Compare is more detailed than Australia’s more recent MyHospitals site, and includes reports on “processes of care” measures such as the percentage of patients hospitalised for acute myocardial infarction treated with β-blockers, as well as condition-specific mortality and readmission rates, patient experience measures and cost and volume measures.

Orion Health still assessing demand for IPO

Orion Health, a hospital software provider in New Zealand, is still assessing investor demand for its much-anticipated initial public offering that may raise over $NZ100 million ($A90.2m) ahead of its November listing.
It is understood that Orion is meeting fund managers in New Zealand today, after having conducted a round of meetings with Australian fund managers earlier. Orion has not officially set a timeline for the IPO, although sources are expecting the company to list by the end of November.

Cloud solution delivers a clean bill of health

Jennifer Foreshew

HEALTHCARE provider Mercy Health found underinvestment in IT infrastructure had hurt performance and caused a lot of downtime.
The IT team spent inordinate amounts of time dealing with old hardware and software issues, instead of providing service and supporting new implementations and capabilities.
“The capacity of the IT department to engage more dynamically to accommodate the needs of the business was severely hampered,’’ Mercy Health chief information officer Dmitri Mirvis says.
“It became a no brainer for us that we should be going into the cloud for the data centre as a ­cost-effective and future-proof ­approach.’’
Mercy Health, which has 5500 employees, has 31 sites across NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT.

Pharmacy must take chances to broaden services: Sansom

15 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
The next community pharmacy agreement will provide a vital opportunity to integrate pharmacy into the primary care network and ensure its survival, eminent pharmacist Lloyd Sansom believes.   
Speaking at PAC14 in Canberra last Friday, Emeritus Professor Sansom, the chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, said the political will exists in Australia to increase the scope of pharmacy practice, but the profession must not just expect this to happen as a matter of course.
“In many ways this agreement [6CPA] is more important than any of its predecessors because it provides the opportunity to look at innovative ways of finding additional sources of revenue, and new ways to practice,” he said.

Online symptom checker drawn up by doctors

13 October, 2014
Sponsored Content  Healthdirect Symptom Checker
A new online symptom checker, designed by doctors, will provide credible health information for the growing number of Australians who are to relying on the internet for medical advice.
Based on a program created by the National Health Service in the UK, the healthdirect Symptom Checker is a tool designed to help patients access accurate, safe and clinically validated information and advice about their symptoms, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
With approximately 60% of Australians turning to the internet to find answers about diseases and symptoms*, it’s clear that the web is now a key companion to health decision-making.

Updated: Conformance Profiles for Specialist Letter and Common Clinical Document

Created on Thursday, 16 October 2014
NEHTA has released an updated version of the PCEHR Conformance Profile for the Specialist Letter document type.
Specialist Letter documents can now also be generated for the following three usage scenarios:
  • Specialist letters sent that are not in response to a clinician's referral (self-referral)
  • Specialist letters sent to referrers without a known HPI-I or HPI-O
  • Specialist letters containing recommendations for addressees without a known HPI-I or HPI-O.
The Specialist Letter – PCEHR Conformance Profile has been updated to allow for these additional usage scenarios. The Specialist Letter template packages have been adjusted to reflect these changed requirements.

New features and new look for MedicalDirector Clinical and PracSoft Summer release

MedicalDirector is excited to be bringing medical practices a list of fresh functionality and features in our upcoming MedicalDirector Clinical and PracSoft Summer release. We have also have taken the opportunity to refresh the entire business to reflect these changes!
“Bringing our customers solutions that work for them is our priority,” says CEO Phil Offer. “The new release features have been prioritised based on an extensive process to gather customer feedback”, he said.

First reported case of Google Glass internet addiction disorder

Date October 16, 2014 - 10:37AM

Stan Schroeder

When a 31-year-old man receiving treatment for alcoholism was required to remove his Google Glass while completing rehab, he reportedly started to feel frustrated and irritable without the device. He had been wearing Glass for up to 18 hours a day, only taking it off when he slept and bathed.
According to the journal Addictive Behaviors, this was the first case of internet addiction disorder (IAD) involving the use of Google Glass.
"The withdrawal from this is much worse than the withdrawal I went through from alcohol," the journal quotes the man as saying, noting several Behaviours seemingly tied to the man's addiction to Glass, such as dreaming as though he were looking through it. "He would experience the dream through a small gray window," the journal stated.

Doctor Google will see you now: search giant tests live medical advice

Date October 14, 2014 - 10:35AM

Stan Schroeder

It seems Google is trying to bring an end to all the fake "diagnoses" resulting from folks searching for their symptoms and arriving at the wrong conclusions — or at least alleviate the problem.
An image posted to Reddit shows a Google search for knee pain, and an option for the user to video chat with a doctor about their symptoms.
The company has now confirmed to several outlets that it's a new feature Google is trying out. A spokesperson told Gizmodo, "When you're searching for basic health information ... our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people."

$27 a month: Turnbull sets out rules to counter TPG FTTB threat to NBN

Communications minister outlines new rules that would force telcos to open up their superfast broadband network to competing retail service providers
Rohan Pearce (Computerworld) on 15 October, 2014 11:35
Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has published the draft licence condition for telcos that want to roll out infrastructure that competes with the National Broadband Network.
The licence condition, which will require carriers to offer access to their network to retail service providers for $27 per month per port, was drawn up in the wake of a finding by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that TPG had not violated 'anti-cherry-picking' rules with its rollout of fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) services.
The new licence condition would apply to so-called superfast broadband services — that is, those with a download speed of 25Mbps or faster — delivered to residential customers.

Can HFC be NBN Co's saviour?

NBN Co boss Bill Morrow’s decision to create a separate HFC division was always on the cards. And, as far as connecting Australians to the National Broadband Network (NBN) is concerned, the move can’t come soon enough.
While hiving off the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network as a separate unit can be interpreted as the first step in a very long journey of splitting up NBN Co, Bill Morrow and his team and have more pressing concerns at the moment.
You have to build the NBN first before you can start thinking about ripping it apart.
The recruitment in July of Dennis Steiger, who brings substantial experience in the HFC space, was an early indication of the sort of role he was destined to play in the new NBN Co regime.

Why Commodity Hardware Isn't Always The Right Choice

October 15, 2014
Most server rollouts are built on commodity hardware: using standard Intel-based systems running general-purpose stacks, which offer the promise of being able to easily switch between providers. That model isn’t disappearing, but in some contexts engineered systems — platforms which have a much tighter integration between hardware, server and application layers — can be more helpful.
The topic of engineered systems was front and centre during an Oracle media briefing in Sydney yesterday (which we’ve already covered in a discussion of developing for Google Glass). Oracle’s regional director for Fusion Middleware Damien Parkes noted that according to Gartner, engineered and integrated systems are currently a $US6 billion a year market. In 2015, Gartner predicts 35 per cent of total server sales will come from this category.
Obviously, Oracle has a vested interest in promoting engineered systems: it will make more money if it can sell its customers both hardware and software. But that doesn’t mean that the benefits aren’t real for some users.
eHealth for NSW, which provides manages IT platforms for health services across the state, is looking to engineered systems to provide further performance improvements on its systems. It has almost completed a massive upgrade to its core payroll systems. That project took three years and covered 140,000 staff. “With that consolidation and the push to move everything to an online presence, we’re seeing the uptake of our platform grow rapidly,” Farhoud Salimi, corporate IT director for eHealth For NSW, told the briefing.

Quantum teams claim world records

John Ross

THE University of NSW is claiming world records in the nascent field of quantum computing, after two teams implanted exceptionally accurate quantum “bits” — the processing units of the theoretical computers — into silicon.
The breakthroughs could help make the super powerful computers a reality in as little as five years. “Until you’re able to show that you’ve got bits that keep their memory without losing it in a flash, you’re not really in the game,” said UNSW physicist Andrew Dzurak, co-author of two papers published this morning in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
“Now we know how to make incredibly good ones — the best in any solid state system, in terms of accuracy. Now’s the time to work with industry to try and get these (computers) built.”

My computer almost carked it

Date October 16, 2014

The Venture

Tony Featherstone is a specialist writer on small companies and entrepreneurs

The unthinkable happened to my business: a vicious virus almost killed my main computer. Not just one virus, but 43 simultaneously wreaking havoc.
When I woke early to print a boarding pass, the computer screen was purple. No software icons, log-ins or files. Just purple. Several reboots later, a screen appeared saying Windows had not reloaded properly and another restart was needed. Half asleep, I hit okay – only to restart the virus and help it spread. 
Rushing to the airport, I wondered if the computer could be saved, how much work was lost, and which clients needed the “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse. I guessed the worst-case scenario was a week of lost work, given the previous back-up.