Pulse+IT Blog

Silly sausages being touted for MedicalDirector

Pulse+IT collectively choked on its early winter porridge this week when we read an edition of the Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column which touted the sale of general practice management system vendor MedicalDirector by its private equity owners for the astoundingly silly sum of $500 million.

As we have noted before, anyone seriously considering that sort of money for a middle-sized Australian medical software firm needs to have their heads read. The Fin was quoting $300m three years ago and we hear this is closer to what is being asked for today, but it is still a highly optimistic valuation for a company that is not really going anywhere in a hurry.

HotDoc hot to trot for Victoria

Melbourne-based online appointment booking and patient engagement platform HotDoc went on the front foot this week in a call to the Victorian government to consider its platform for the ramped-up COVID-19 vaccination program, which is now being extended to 40-49 year olds. It is even offering its solution to the Victorian government for free and reckons it can stand something up in 48 hours to help Victorians get vaccinated.

That’s a far cry from Microsoft’s efforts, which despite being awarded a $5 million contract for a vaccine management solution for Victoria last year still hasn’t yet gone live. This platform is more than just a booking solution but you’d have to say come on, Microsoft. It’s June already. We know that alternatives have been put into action in the meantime – Cerner, for instance, has been offering its solution to health service customers in Victoria for Phase 1a – but it beggars belief that Microsoft has been unable to get its solution sorted in the meantime.

Waikato’s woes continue into another week

The week’s headlines were again dominated by the cyber attack on Waikato DHB, which is still in the very early days of recovery from what turned out to be an extremely significant incident. Officials confirmed that patient and staff data that was sent to the media earlier this week was genuine and had been stolen, but a deadline the alleged perpetrators gave for the payment of a ransom came and went with no public release of the documents.

Sympathy following massive attacks

It was not a great week for cyber security in healthcare around the world as malicious actors let loose, taking out Waikato DHB’s IT systems on Tuesday and having a go at the Alaskan Department of Health later in the week. Those incidents follow the massive attack on Ireland’s healthcare service last week, which was described by its CEO as catastrophic and affected the whole country. It is still recovering, but so is the Scripps Health network in San Diego, which continues to struggle two weeks later.

Early reports linked the perpetrators of the Irish attack to Waikato but that has since been disputed by the Ministry of Health, and it is still not clear who or what is responsible. One unexpected consequence has been disruption to the DHB’s payroll system – not only are clinicians having to revert to pen and paper, but the beancounters are too. The Victorian health system, which has had its fair share of cyber issues in the last few years, got a bit of cash in Thursday’s state budget to fix some of its cyber gaps, including money for next generation anti-virus protections, a Security Operations Centre, and a recovery service in the event of a successful attack.

Couple of bingles over bungles

Orion Health CEO Ian McCrae didn’t hold back this week in a letter he penned to New Zealand’s Auditor-General John Ryan, asking Mr Ryan if his beancounters could take a close look at the procurement of the new Salesforce-based solution being rolled out to support the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Calling the reported expenditure of $38 million for the system scandalous, Mr McCrae took the NZ Ministry of Health (MoH) to task over what looks like a behind-closed-doors approach to the procurement as well as its expense, claiming he and his team could have had a system up and running in a month for 50 grand and a bit of spare change.

Big spending and big spinning budget for digital health

There was a lot of spin in Tuesday’s federal budget about what it means for digital health, but there was quite a lot of money too. The spin was about how the government was transforming digital health with its investment. The money was about half a billion dollars.

There was the previously announced $300m over two years for the My Health Record, which will be used for “leveraging the connections already in place and ensuring a more coordinated healthcare future for Australia”, whatever that means, “while also stimulating economic recovery from COVID-19” and “accelerating a new surge of innovations”.

WhatsApp with eScripts

Fred IT made the news this week with the launch of Australia’s first active script list (ASL), which Fred has dubbed My Script List (MySL). The system has been tested in Tasmania over the last few months and is now live for Tassie pharmacies using Fred’s dispense systems.

The other states and territories are due to follow in the next couple of months, although the system is not yet fully up and running for GPs as the practice management software vendors, who are constantly under the pump with requests for new features and functionality, still have a bit of work to do.

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