Rivers of Babylon gold
This week kicked off with the official go-live of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health and ended with a bit of controversy over SA Health's policy on sharing diagnostic reports and discharge summaries with the My Health Record for people under the age of 18. We congratulate our old HISA and ACHI friends on the successful rebranding to the new AIDH in what looks like a very smooth transition.
Another big story this week was the launch of a new index on the Australian stock exchange that covers the highest performing technology stocks, including six from the healthcare sector. The idea of the index is to draw attention to emerging companies and to widen interest in technology stocks beyond just information technology.
Pro Medicus is the highest rating healthcare technology stock, followed by NZ's Volpara, app developers ResApp and PainChek, and health informatics platform developer Alcidion. The Citadel Group is also listed, having a market capitalisation of $260m. Most of its revenue comes from its services division and from non-health software but it appears to make a good income from its three healthcare lines, and as we saw this week with its successful capital raising for its planned purchase of UK radiology and maternity software vendor Wellbeing, it has big plans for the healthcare division. Unfortunately, the index had a miserable week as like the rest of the market, it has been whacked by news of the impending plague.
Also in listed company news this week was Healius, the diagnostic and medical centre operator formerly known as Primary Health Care. CEO Malcolm Parmenter confirmed long-standing rumours this week that Healius hoped to offload the medical centre division in order to concentrate on the more lucrative pathology division as well as the growth area of day hospitals. Healius has ploughed millions into preparing its 73 medical centres for a potential sale, offering a better deal in contract negotiations to its GPs, introducing appointment bookings and standardising practice IT with MedicalDirector Clinical and PracSoft.
Its much vaunted plans to switch to MD's cloud-based Helix program have yet to eventuate, and might not at all if a new owner comes on board. In its half-yearly results report this week, Healius admitted that changes to practices had led to a drop in productivity and it was providing more training to staff. With the use of technologies like eRecalls, it still insists it will improve gross billings per hour above and beyond what it says it has achieved with booked appointments.
It has also received a tidy offer of $2.1 billion from a subsidiary of Swiss private equity firm Partners Group for the company in its entirety. Partners has already bought a 15.8 per cent share so Healius' board will be looking at that price tag very closely. It expects to make a recommendation about six weeks.
Meanwhile in the UK, perennial clickbaiters Babylon were back in the news this week in a story about an oncologist called David Watkins, who revealed himself to be a previously anonymous Twitter user who regularly took aim at Babylon's algorithms over their perceived inaccuracies. Babylon is never one to take a step backwards and came out firing at Dr Watkins, labelling him a Twitter troll and revealing that of the 2400 or so tests he had run on Babylon's platform, only 100 turned out to be of concern. Babylon claims Dr Watkins himself made some mistakes and in the 20 cases where he was correct, Babylon fixed the error.
Some Twitter users then took Babylon to task for bullying Dr Watkins, but Babylon clearly wasn't impressed with the 6000 or so tweets he had aimed directly at them over the years and issued this snarky press release. While the company is a big target for criticism, it also has big plans and thick skin. It raised a mammoth $US550 million last year and is a fixture in Canada as well as the UK, and is now eyeing off the US market as well as China.
The week ended with the revelation that SA Health is not uploading any clinical documents from its hospitals to the My Health Records of children under the age of 18, in a move that has caused consternation from some quarters. We'll have more on this next week but would value your thoughts on the wisdom of the move, whether in the comments below or on our Pulse+IT Chat site.
It is also our poll question for the week: Do you support SA Health's policy not to allow uploads to the MyHR for children? Sign up to our weekend edition to vote.
Last week we asked: Are you in favour of real-time prescription monitoring? Most do: 85 per cent said yes, 15 per cent said no.