Pulse+IT Blog

Bad news is better out than in

It probably comes as no surprise that our two most popular stories this week both concern nefarious goings on in the darker recesses of our networked world, but apart from them both involving thankfully unsuccessful attempts by hackers to gain unauthorised access to our healthcare systems, what they both have in common is an unfortunate lack of transparency about what really went on.

On Wednesday, we revealed that Western Health, which runs the Sunshine, Footscray and Williamstown hospitals in Melbourne's west, had been subject to an attack from the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm that caused such havoc for the NHS last year and disrupted the basic operation of about a third of the UK's hospitals for days.

Transfixed by a terrible tall tale

In 2017, technology research firm Gartner ranked virtual assistants and machine learning at the “peak of inflated expectations” on its much-quoted emerging technologies hype cycle, but it also named AI as one of three big megatrends that will provide unrivalled intelligence and create profoundly new experiences in the next five to 10 years.

We were pondering this projection this week having read up on a stunning yarn that has utterly transfixed the health IT and the wider IT industry in New Zealand. In two seriously good stories in Kiwi independent site The Spinoff – here's the first, and here's the follow-up – Auckland journalist David Farrier took a look at a purported artificial intelligence technology called Zach, the creation of a supposed charity called The Terrible Foundation and its founder Albi Whale, which was set to revolutionise healthcare as we know it.

Action stations at the agency

We decided to take a bit of a squizz at the goings on over at the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) this week amid a flurry of activity that seems to be emanating these days from Pitt St. We'd been thinking they had a pretty quiet start to the year and were ready to go nosying about, but it turns out that they'd all been busy little bees, what with organising the recent international gabfest and putting the final touches on an absolutely ginormous program of work for the coming years.

We described it in our story this week as putting some meat on the bones of the seven priorities outlined in the National Digital Health Strategy, but if you take a look at what the draft Framework for Action actually entails, it's a hefty enough slab that will keep ADHA's 250 or so staff eating barbecue for the next four years.

The inconvenient truth about EMRs

It's a common tactic of incoming governments facing big budget shortfalls to call for an independent inquiry to investigate the horrors bequeathed by their vanquished foes, and it happens no matter what stripe your political colours.

Tony Abbott federally and Campbell Newman in Queensland were big fans of “commissions of audit”, arranging them as soon as they took government in the high hopes that the blame for all nasty manner of remedial action could be sheeted back to their predecessors.

RTPM and NCSR swirl in an acronym soup

We were vaguely amused this week when, among the voluminous coverage of Victoria's draft regulations for its SafeScript real-time prescription monitoring system, we discovered that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was threatening to write a sternly worded letter to all the other states and territories to ask them to get a move on with the federal RTPM system that he has championed to the tune of $16 million.

Amused because this is exactly what one of his predecessors, Peter Dutton, did way back in 2014 and no one paid him any attention then either. Four years on from those sternly worded letters, here we are, with Victoria giving up on the feds and building its own system and the ACT government only just announcing last week that it will legislate to give prescribers and pharmacists real-time access to its existing monitoring system by March 2019.

Digital health is neither penicillin nor panacea

Pulse+IT visited the University of NSW to hear from some of digital health's luminaries on Wednesday, mingling with a gathering of the usual suspects from Australia, as well as numerous international speakers at the inaugural International Digital Health Symposium.

The symposium, organised by the George Institute for Global Health and the Australian Digital Health Agency, followed a two-day talkfest in Canberra on Monday and Tuesday to celebrate the Global Digital Health Partnership, which ADHA hopes will become very important in the digital health scheme of things.

Pity the poor software vendors

Yes, we know that no one has ever said that and really meant it, but this week has been a tough one to be a clinical software vendor, what with being unfairly maligned by a high-profile medical college, caught up in a state election campaign and otherwise taking the blame for all manner of ills.

Poor old EPAS in Adelaide came in for yet another beating from local rag the Advertiser last week, which reported that 25,000 outpatients were missing an urgency rating following a transfer from the old booking system to EPAS, which clinicians will now have to fix up and are rightly grumbling about.

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