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.

We also had news about the budget this week, with the usual leaks now dripping out in a rush, as is commonplace in the highly politicised world of publicly funded healthcare. The new health minister's office has been leaking tasty budget titbits to favoured media outlets and the healthcare lobby groups are all on their best behaviour in case someone puts a foot out of line and that promised funding suddenly evaporates.

It seems highly likely that the Medicare freeze will be thawed somewhat, although to what extent will have to wait until the actual day in May. In the meantime, the #liftthefreeze and #youvebeentargeted hashtags have gone suspiciously quiet, as has the debate over the actual level of Medicare bulk billing, although we expect the explosion will be heard around the world if the government drops the ball and doesn't ease the freeze come May 9.

Some of those favourite media outlets have also been running with a story that the feds will finally fully fund the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system – which most states and territories have been holding out for, bar Victoria, which shelled out $30 million last year – and there is also some talk about the government reneging on Sussan Ley's deal last year with the pathology providers, which should be fun to watch.

This week we discovered that the government will chuck in $9 million to allow people living in rural and remote areas to have seven of their yearly 10 subsidised consults with psychologists conducted by telehealth, which is an excellent idea. Opening up the MBS to telehealth even further would be even better, now that even the AMA is on board.

Since the heady days of Medicare Local telehealth teams, when there were more pilots than Qantas, it is the states and territories that have taken on a lot of the responsibility for funding telehealth infrastructure and services. But we reckon that to fully take advantage of what is now quite routine technology, GPs should be allowed to see their patients by telehealth no matter the setting if they think it appropriate. That would help crack down on another budget drain in those expensive after-hours home doctor visits, now wouldn't it?

We'll have some stories in the coming weeks from the Australian Telehealth Conference in Melbourne, which is on next Thursday and Friday. Get along to it if you are in town.

Our poll last week asked: Are the MyHR access controls rigorous enough to protect against prying eyes? This was closer than expected: 45 per cent said yes, 55 per cent said no.

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