Pulse+IT Blog

Tasmania puts money where its mouth is

Tasmania pulled off a bit of a stunner this week with the release of its digital health strategy a day or so before the state budget, announcing the first tranche in what is a substantial investment for the state in digital health. $475 million over 10 years is a lot considering Tassie’s small population and its historic underspend on healthcare, and while money has certainly been shovelled into hospital infrastructure over the years – including $689m in Royal Hobart’s K-Block – digital health has never had much of a look in.

There have been some notable digital health initiatives – the country’s first prescription monitoring system, the Tasmanian medicines formulary and controlled drug management system, a statewide health directory, and the first real go at a statewide eReferrals system that is up and running and scoring runs. (A lot of this is with the help and initiative of Hobart software and data specialist HealthCare Software.) All of the state’s GPs use either Best Practice or MedicalDirector, the two pathology providers accept eOrders, and telehealth has been well established in the private sector for over 15 years.

Election 2022: sports rorts, car porks and many snouts in the trough

No matter which party wins tomorrow’s Australian federal election or who holds the balance of power, there are three generation-defining issues facing the country: climate change, debt and healthcare. All three rank the highest in voters’ concerns, and detailed answers to all three have been tacitly avoided by the two major parties during this election campaign.

When it comes to health – whether that is primary care, hospital care, aged care, disability care or preventative health – the problems are stark and the answers are not easy, but they need to be confronted. The Coalition boasts of its record funding for Medicare and its response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, while the ALP conjures up urgent care clinics, voluntary patient enrolment and ensuring our elderly are properly fed. The Greens want to add dental care to the mix, and even though there is a very noticeable number of trained doctors standing for parliament, most are running on platforms concerned with climate change or political integrity rather than fixing the health system.

Local IT firms step up for JP2060

It was a very obscure little link on the Australian government’s AusTender website that first alerted technology news site ITnews and then Pulse+IT last week to the long-awaited announcement of the awarding of the JP2060 Phase 4 eHealth system replacement for the Australian Defence Force to Leidos Australia. The contract was costed at a very precise three hundred and twenty-nine million, six hundred and fifty-two thousand, six hundred and forty-three dollars and eighty cents, ($329,652,643.80), although Leidos this week in its PR said priced it at $299 million. According to ITnews the contract was signed last December, although there is no word on why it was not publicly announced at the time and was only revealed in April.

Health not buying MSIA’s eScript complaints

A rather peculiar tender was issued by the Australian Department of Health back in September 2021 for a review of the electronic prescribing ecosystem, with particular emphasis on the funding model. The tender was full of the usual government verbiage, talking about the need to look at “opportunities to improve the customer experience for prescribers, patients and dispensers; optimise the environment to support further scale; and to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the operating and funding model”. In other words, it wanted to look at cutting costs.

We hear that one of the usual suspects in the big four consulting groups won the contract to take at look at this ecosystem, saw that the department was not only funding every eScript token that a GP sent out by SMS but that it had in fact been paying for every printed script issued with a barcode for close on a decade, and decided to recommend cutting back on these subsidies.

Pfizer’s play for ResApp a sign of the times

ASX-listed ResApp Health has been making some pretty big moves and pretty big claims in the last year or so for its respiratory health software apps, so it was no real surprise that a Big Pharma company has been sniffing around. What is a bit surprising in Pfizer’s bid for the Brisbane firm is the size of its offer, which values the company at $100 million.

ResApp has been around for quite a few years, having been founded in 2014 to commercialise technology developed by University of Queensland biomedical engineer Udantha Abeyratne. It officially listed on the ASX in 2015 through a reverse listing with the former Narhex Life Sciences, and since then has run some pretty impressive trials, in particular at Joondalup Health Campus in WA, into using the technology for remote diagnosis of COPD, asthma and pneumonia through artificial intelligence analysis of cough sounds. It also has a sleep apnoea app called SleepCheck that is going great guns.

This election, no one is mentioning the M word

Pulse+IT’s readers prefer us to stay out of politics and refrain from commenting one way or the other and we generally try to do so, but with a federal election just three weeks away and the topic of healthcare barely touched on by our leaders, it’s getting tough.

Barely a peep has come out from the Coalition about healthcare policy beyond the usual spin about record funding, guaranteeing Medicare, free medications, ‘permanent telehealth’ and so on. With health minister Greg Hunt retiring and a non-entity like former social services minister Anne Ruston to take his place, and aged care minister Richard Colbeck currently on holiday either in Coventry or perhaps even Siberia so quiet he has been, healthcare policy and funding is not getting much of a run.

10-year primary care plan puts a lie to universal telehealth claims

Yes, we know we have been banging on about this for ages but this week has revealed in living colour just how ridiculous outgoing health minister Greg Hunt’s commitment to telehealth is. Despite masses of spin to the contrary, the Australian government has no intention of instituting universal permanent telehealth, and nor has it gone to Herculean efforts to institute it, as the Medical Software Industry Association ridiculously likes to tout.

The surreptitious release of the grandly titled Primary Health Care 10-year Plan – allegedly published on March 25, four days before the budget but somehow evading everyone’s notice – suggests that there are quite a lot of elements to the plan that the Department of Health wants to hide.

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