Pulse+IT Blog

FHIR storm still smoulders as connectathon looms

The FHIR standard was back in the spotlight this week with the ongoing fall-out from the recent publication of a super duper report into vulnerabilities that may eventuate from poor implementations of the standard by third parties.

Last week, HL7 International took what is a very unusual step in releasing a statement emphasising that the vulnerabilities are at the implementation end and certainly not at the standard itself, and touting that the author had changed the title of her report to reflect this.

Victoria’s bumpy path to a digital health roadmap

Pulse+IT was a keen attendee at this week’s Health Information Management Association of Australia’s (HIMAA) annual conference, which naturally in this pandemic era was held virtually. It was pretty good too, and revealed quite a lot of information about Victoria’s digital health roadmap, which was launched back in August but got little if any coverage due to the pandemic itself.

The roadmap is in no way a grand, sweeping vision like others purport to be but is instead built around existing projects – most of which have been precipitated by Stephen Duckett’s Targeting Zero review of hospital safety and quality assurance from 2016 and the more recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – and turns out to be a pragmatic, practical strategy that takes into account the decentralised nature of the state’s health service.

FHIR storm erupts over scary vulnerabilities in third-party apps

In the real world, Australia and New Zealand began to put into action their respective roadmaps out of lockdown this week as vaccination numbers rose to much hoped-for levels. However, in the somewhat obscure world of health IT standards, a quite remarkable report was released late last week that has stimulated a firestorm of debate over the basic security of healthcare data.

Las Vegas-based cybersecurity analyst, former hacker and content creator Alissa Knight – who going by her bio and her Knight Ink business description is surely to become the subject of a novel one day if not a pretty cool movie – released the second phase of a year-long research project she has undertaken into the basic security of apps and aggregators drawing data from FHIR APIs linked to electronic medical records and other patient record databases.

My Health Record and the confessions of a doctor dodger

A landmark report in Australian healthcare was handed down this week with the release of the recommendations from the independent Primary Health Reform Steering Group on the federal government’s primary healthcare plan for the next 10 years.

The report is very much influenced by the Department of Health’s voluntary patient registration (VPR) model, which seems to have taken over as preferred policy from ideas like Health Care Homes and patient-centred medical homes. (It’s interesting that GPs who have in the past railed against the idea of capitation seem to be quite keen on VPR, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Australian digital health continues to reinvent the wheel

We know we keep banging on about it but another week in Australian pandemic news has again brought home how weak and disjointed our collective IT response has been, despite the considerable arsenal of top-notch systems that have already been developed for our health authorities and governments to use.

And yet we continue to try to reinvent the wheel. Nowhere was this more apparent than the announcement of a new Australian Digital Health Agency-led (ADHA) project for an assessment framework for mobile health apps. ADHA held a webinar on the topic this week that in our opinion was so badly staged we are not even deigning to report on it.

MSIA on the warpath as Genie is let out of the bottle

A big week in health IT kicked off on Monday with the announcement that medical specialist software vendor Genie Solutions had been sold to Citadel Group for the very healthy sum of $260 million. Considering that a majority stake in Genie was sold just four years ago for $55m, this is a pretty good return on investment for its private equity investors, but coming off the back of the extraordinary amount that Telstra Health paid for MedicalDirector, it shows that there is serious money out there at the moment for technology stocks.

We understand from immaculate sources that Genie Solutions was still planning to publicly list as late as last week, but had also been in discussions with Citadel for some time and was also offered up to Telstra Health. Telstra had to decide between MedicalDirector and Genie as it could not afford both, and chose the former, paying $350m for the GP sector’s second most used software. While understandable in the short term considering Telstra has long spoken about joining up disparate parts of the healthcare system in Australia, of which GPs are fundamental, but when it comes to long-term growth, we think Genie was the better bet.

Does NSW get a pass on vaccine passports?

Vaccine passes were back in the news this week as Victor Dominello, NSW Minister for Customer Service – yes, that is his real title – got on the blower to spread the word that the NSW government will trial an addition to the existing Service NSW app that will draw down data from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) and allow fully vaccinated NSW residents free movement within the state.

While a PDF of the vaccine certificate is currently available through the Express Plus Medicare app – and My Health Record, although no one ever mentions this – the idea behind the NSW system is that it will be added to an already widely used app that also allows people to check into venues, so users only need to open the one app. Security will be similar to what already covers NSW’s digital driver’s licences, and so should be exceptionally good. (The PDF can also be downloaded to the Apple Wallet and Google Pay, too, which is useful.)

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