Pulse+IT Blog

Movers and shakers in a time of crisis

Sydney is under curfew, NSW as a whole is in lockdown, Victoria is holding steady, there are new restrictions in the ACT, the NT and New Zealand, and even Tasmania is foreshadowing the ominous things to come by releasing its lockdown protocol ahead of anything like a recent local infection.

Strange days indeed, and not likely to change in the immediate future. We hear that the Australasian Institute of Digital Health is shortly to announce it will go fully virtual with its planned half virtual/half in person hybrid conference in Melbourne this year, and will not be surprised if HINZ’s Digital Health Week NZ in-person conference scheduled for late November in Wellington suffers the same fate as NZ enters stage 4 lockdown and three new cases are reported in Welly today.

Telstra Health’s big MedicalDirector buy

Vague mutterings about the real value of once-dominant general practice management software vendor MedicalDirector have echoed through the years, particularly since it was flogged off to a private equity firm by former owner Primary Health Care (now Healius) in 2016 for what we thought of at the time as the extravagant sum of $155 million.

Five years later and the private equity owners have done their job, stripping the company of staff through multiple rounds of redundancies to cut costs and maximise their sale price. Telstra Health, amongst others, has been sniffing around for a few years, and earlier this week announced it had snapped MD up for the astonishing sum of $350 million. It dwarfs Telstra Health’s earlier acquisition of 18-odd companies for a combined total of $235-240 million, as well as its recent purchase of PowerHealth Solutions for $95m.

When government digital systems work, they can work well

Pulse+IT is not alone in criticising certain digital platforms developed by various governments for healthcare and we are certainly not going to stop now, but we are happy to give credit where credit is due when it comes to good systems that appear to work. In particular, we’d like to laud the improvements made to myGov, which was an absolute trainwreck in its early days but has now become a reasonably seamless operation.

Yes Minister, your app is a dud

Pulse+IT’s Tasmanian correspondent has had the great good fortune to live in close proximity to one of the quarantine hotels called into action recently to house seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. From what we can tell, some locals returning from the Indian subcontinent who have to do their two weeks in isolation have been housed there too. But it is the Samoan guests in particular who have become famous down our way for their fantastic spirits while isolating for the past fortnight, and for the joy they have given voice to.

With no local infections recorded for the last 400+ days we are in a good position in Tasmania – recently voted one of the best places in the world in which to ride out an apocalypse, along with New Zealand, Iceland and Ireland – so the residents of the quarantine hotels have been given a little leeway and allowed out on the balconies to enjoy the Hobart winter and regale us with their song. They have been marvellous – if you haven’t heard about them, click here and here. The other guests have also been in good spirits and have been laughing and chatting and waving to passers-by, which we have enjoyed immensely.

Pandemic ripe for surveying patient experience

Our blog from last week on the difficulties some people have had trying to find and book in for a vaccination took on extra meaning this week, as metropolitan Sydney’s outbreak worsened and Melbourne snapped into a hopefully short and sharp lockdown. Vaccination is the key to all of us getting out of this, but besides the problem with adequate supply in Australia and late supply in New Zealand, it’s our IT systems that we are relying on to help us navigate our way out of disaster.

NSW Health’s systems are among those that have come in for a lot of criticism, and confusion still reigns over what exactly they plan to do about it, but we have also been closely watching what each state and territory in Australia is doing, along with the national system in New Zealand.

Bubble bursts behind the ring of steel

The pain for the locked down people of NSW continued this week and got worse on Friday, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling the situation in her state a national emergency, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calling for a ring of steel around greater Sydney and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bursting the trans-Tasman bubble and rolling up the shutters on quarantine-free travel for the next two months.

Yesterday, Ms Berejiklian pleaded with Sydneysiders to get vaccinated, including under 40s to consider getting AstraZeneca, which Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state was “awash” with. “If you’re under 40 and want AstraZeneca, please, please check with your GP,” she said. “If your GP gives you the green light, please get the vaccine. Please, please, come forward and get vaccinated.”

NSW Health’s vaccination booking system is broken

On 20 March 2020, Australia closed its international borders as case numbers of COVID-19 exploded around the globe. Fifteen months later, NSW Health has still not been able to deliver a robust booking system to support the state’s vaccination efforts, with the current mashup of hastily implemented technology riddled with problems.

As is also the case for other Australians, to attempt to book their vaccination, NSW residents start their digital journey at the HealthDirect website where they input some basic information into an online Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

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