Uber CRCs and digital health buzzword bingo
We were all set to have one of our regular bouts of whingeing about the My Health Record this morning when what should pop into our inbox but an embargoed press release from the impressively titled $200 million+ Digital Health CRC.
Apparently this organ is set to transform healthcare delivery, improve the health of hundreds of thousands and save the health system $1.8 billion. It will also develop new solutions and take them to the world through the efforts of a crowd called HMS, which appears to be involved in flogging products to reduce costs for health insurers in the US.
Quite why we are using Australian taxpayer funds for this we didn't know so we read on to find out, but we must say we found it hard going working out exactly how technology is involved in all this. What the new CRC looks like instead is a rehash of the CRC for Capital Markets with a bit of sexy tech thrown in. The two CRCs share headquarters, staff and supporters, including a surprising amount from the private health insurance sector.
We were interested to learn that one of the main shareholders of the Capital Markets CRC was the Australian Health Service Alliance, which represents the private health funds. It also happens to be a big supporter of this new CRC, as does IAG. And one of the solutions produced at the first CRC is called HIBIS, which helps insurers identify and manage claims leakage.
For the new CRC, some of the research themes are how to reduce fraud, abuse, waste and errors; how to increase the value derived from public and private health insurance; and how to get sick and injured people back to their regular daily activities faster. Hmm.
There are loads of universities involved in this new CRC and some local health districts and PHNs, so perhaps it's all hunky dory, but for all the talk about working with digital health industry partners, there were only five recognised clinical software developers listed, including Fred IT, GuildLink and Telstra Health, which are all part of the same family.
There is also no MSIA, no HISA, no ACHI, no HIMAA, no AAPM, no AeHRC and no RACGP, which is concerning.
We received an approach about this CRC last year with the offer of an op-ed from the CEO-designate but it wasn't very polished, used the dreaded U word (Uber) and we had a load of questions about it.
We wanted to know how it would work with organisations who have been doing digital health for decades, was it supported by the brand new multi-million dollar government agency set up to guide digital health, and what the relationship would be with the new CRE in Digital Healthcare, which had just that month been announced.
We heard nothing until this morning, but what we have heard still raises a lot of questions. We'd like to ask why “developing Australia's future digital health workforce” is a main theme of this new venture when that is what HISA, ACHI, ADHA and the CRE for Digital Healthcare are also working on.
We'd like to know why the new CRC is planning to fund a project to develop apps to remind patients to take their meds on time when there's loads on the market, including one called MedAdvisor that has been validated by the one million people who use it.
We'd like to know why medicines safety is a big theme when the Australian Digital Health Agency, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and the universities already run programs on this.
We also want to know whether this endeavour is worth $55m in taxpayer funding and the $55m the universities have promised in kind, why there are only five medical software companies involved and why is it called the digital health CRC when it seems it has little to do with technology?
We'll see if we can find out next week. This week, on the other hand, was dominated by My Health Record news. We had a repeat of the wrong PBS data fiasco and we encourage you to check out the comments on our story, as they cover a lot of different viewpoints and all are extremely well informed.
We take Jon Carrano's point that no one would know about these errors without the My Health Record making them visible, but we remain firmly of the opinion that if you know there are lots of errors with this data – and this is billing and admin data, not clinical data – then why would you compromise the quality of the My Health Record by including it in the first place?
ADHA this week launched a guide to using the record for the pharmacy profession and we hope to see the amount of dispense records increase. The GPs are doing the hard yards at the moment, having uploaded 14 million prescription documents compared to the pharmacists' 3.8m. Once the latter figure begins to grow, perhaps ADHA will look again at removing superfluous and potentially dangerous data.
Our other big stories were on telehealth this week, with a very cool story on Microsoft's HoloLens being used for in-home care and the news that Waikato DHB had pulled the plug on HealthTap. After our ramble last week we wondered if it was something we said, but we are assured it was because the $14.7m trial had come to its end.
We asked in our poll last week whether high-profile failures such as this would slow the march of telehealth. Gosh, you're a pessimistic lot: 77.5 said yes, just 22.5 said no.
This week, our poll question is: Is the CRC a positive development for digital health?
To vote in our weekly polls, sign up for our weekend edition or leave your comments below.