Pulse+IT Blog

Big boys don't WannaCry

As the dust began to settle on last week's interesting federal budget and we began to digest the interesting news that the My Health Record will become opt-out earlier than expected, news suddenly started to erupt about the WannaCry ransomware attack, which caused a flurry of outraged squawking when it seemed to knock a whole lot of UK hospitals offline.

As soon as the news broke out so did the heroes of the day, the masked infosec avengers who took to social media to tut-tut about how terrible it was that the NHS still seemed to run on Windows XP. It later emerged that it doesn't really and that the affected hospitals seemed to have their business continuity plans in order, but that didn't stop every alleged expert from demanding that hospitals update all their software to Windows 10 overnight, just like they do on their home PC.

Sorry Bill, but this was a Labor health budget

It must be utterly galling to Labor leader Bill Shorten and his team that after four years of the government attacking public spending as part of its 'debt and deficit disaster' narrative, the polls prove so dire for the Coalition that they promptly turn around and steal all of Labor's more popular health and education policies.

After dumping $2.2 billion worth of unlegislated budget repair measures from the disastrous 2014 health budget, on Tuesday night the government then went full socialist, newly embracing Medicare, splashing out on medicines and even returning ownership to the state government of a hospital it “saved” in a significant electorate leading up to the 2007 election. Give us Mercy indeed.

Opt-out is now the only option

Either there's a big announcement of some sort in next week's budget or the Department of Health just moves at a glacial pace, but this week saw the belated release of the evaluation report on the opt-out trials of the My Health Record held last year, six months after it was submitted.

Unsurprisingly, the evaluation found in favour of opt-out, as did the vast majority of consumers and healthcare providers surveyed. Many consumers also thought it should be compulsory for providers to participate in the system – which would cause a mass revolt from doctors and is never going to happen – and they seemed to display far less concern over privacy and security than the privacy crowd pontificates about.

Telehealth pilots begin the move to business class

The memorable phrase first coined by Adelaide GP Tori Wade that telehealth in Australia has “more pilots than Qantas” got a nice little workout at the Australian Telehealth Conference (ATC2017) in Melbourne this week, but while it may be in vogue for a little bit longer, the consensus seems to be that we are beginning to see the move from itty bitty pilot projects to embedding telehealth as business as usual in the provision of healthcare.

That may not necessarily be true as yet in primary care, predominantly due to the funding model, but it is certainly beginning to be seen in secondary care, particularly for outpatients services for rural patients and but also in emergency care in regional areas where specialists are hard to come by. All states and territories are now taking telehealth seriously, even the small ones, and a lot of the thanks for that is due to a mixture of political enthusiasm for sexy tech but also the hard yards that a number of clinical groups in a number of states have done over the years.

Back on the My Health Record nonsense merry-go-round

It's never nice to kick someone on the redundancy line when they are down but the sub-editor at the Daily Telegraph who decided to come up with a headline screaming about your optometrist finding out about all of your abortions because of the My Health Record seriously needs to reevaluate their career choices.

While we had a nice little story about pathology reports finally going up to the MyHR from public hospitals in NSW, over at the Terror it was full-on nonsense mode, in which the fact that access controls are set on universal by default is somehow a 'bungle'. It's not, they've always been like that, consumers can change them whenever they like and no, it doesn't mean 600,000 people will be exposed to your haemorrhoids.

Good luck rubs off on Genie

Besides a ramble from a slightly unhinged Pulse+IT journalist last week, which turned out to be our most-read article, the big news this week was the sale of specialist software vendor Genie Solutions to a proudly ethical private equity firm. The value of the deal is confidential but we understand it is substantial and so it should be.

Founder Paul Carr and his extended family deserve all the financial benefits that come from having done the hard yards to build Genie into a popular product and a substantial Australian health IT company over the last 22 years.

Who'd want to be a listed health IT company?

Poor old Orion Health took an absolute bath on the stock exchange this week, its share price plummeting 15 per cent on Monday and another 14 per cent on Tuesday after it provided an update to the market. The reason? A slightly lower revenue forecast, a shrinking bank balance and a few new contracts sliding into FY 2018, including a small but important win to provide a shared care record in the county of Dorset in the UK.

Orion is doing well in the massive US sector, which has been its largest market for some time, but it's likely that the company will have to ask investors for a bit more dough in the short term or start to draw down on its debt facility. As a health IT company like Orion is a long-term bet, you do have to wonder what the scaredy cats who deserted it this week were doing investing in the first place.

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