Pulse+IT Blog

Where will Telstra Health be in 2022?

This week in health IT got off to a gallop when we revealed there'd been finally been a breakthrough in secure messaging interoperability after many years of reporting on false starts, but by mid-week, all eyes were on the plummeting returns for Telstra's long-suffering shareholders.

We realised that Pulse+IT is getting a bit long in the tooth when we reflected that we've been reporting on attempts to make secure messaging interoperable since the magazine was established back in 2006. Since then, there have been any number of announcements of breakthroughs: the secure message delivery (SMD) standard, the announcement of the SMX collaboration involving the three main vendors, NEHTA's SMD-POD trials, which promised lots and went nowhere.

TripAdvisor for doctors trips up

The Queen's birthday long weekend languor seemed to grip the Australian health IT industry this week and it turned out to be a bit of a slow one, but the weekend itself was spiced up somewhat by a rather fascinating article in Fairfax newspapers on Saturday that had a lot of us agog.

That was the bad review saga, in which it was revealed that online appointments booking service HealthEngine had been editing customer reviews of practices on its site to such a degree that negatives were not just deleted, but sanitised to the point they became positives.

Apple on FHIR with third-party apps

One of the biggest stories this week for the technology community was Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, where in addition to previewing its new macOS and iOS, Apple announced that it was opening up its Health Records APIs to third-party developers.

Apple first launched this app back in January, revealing it has been working with EMR vendors on the Argonaut Project to use the FHIR standard to develop APIs that can allow different systems to talk to each other. This involved a restricted list of vendors and 12 healthcare organisations, which has now increased to over 50, all in the US.

Temper tantrums and the tortured path of health IT

All eyes were on Canberra this week as the upper house's community affairs committee put the Department of Health and its agencies under the microscope during Senate budget estimates, but it turns out it was in the lower house where the real fireworks were about to go off.

Long-term eHealth watchers have become used to estimates hearings being quite bruising affairs, particularly when it comes to the tortured progress of the PCEHR/MyHR over the last seven or so years. But it was a much more agreeable atmosphere this week when Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey fronted up with chief operating officer Bettina McMahon, core systems head Ronan O'Connor and chief medical adviser Meredith Makeham.

Opt in, opt out, or shake it all about

Was it bad timing or just bad luck that on the morning of the day the Australian Digital Health Agency decided to announce the date on which people could begin opting out of the My Health Record, a massive media storm exploded over what appeared to be a serious hack of Family Planning NSW's website, which could potentially have breached the privacy of thousands of people.

As it turned out, the hack exploited a vulnerability in a particular piece of software used to build websites, one of which just happened to belong to FP NSW. It was a ransomware attack of the kind that is increasingly common to all manner of industries and organisations, but which did not target healthcare, Family Planning or its vulnerable clients specifically.

Consent and the Clayton's communications campaign

The Australian Digital Health Agency did a pretty good job publicising that fact that its CEO, Tim Kelsey, would be addressing the assembled hacks and no-hopers of the nation's media at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

Mr Kelsey gave a celebratory, forward-looking speech, outlining a brave new world of digitally enabled healthcare in which the hum and the whirr of the fax machine is finally silenced. He got a nice round of applause, a genial introduction from NPC president Sabra Lane and then a gentle enough opening question about the difficulties US doctors were finding with EMRs.

Paper scripts will still have currency

After the massive windfall for eHealth in the 2017-18 federal budget, when the My Health Record expansion program was funded to the tune of $375 million over two years, there were comparatively slim pickings in this year's budget, although it did hold a little surprise or two.

There was a bit of money to go towards the long-term project to replace the Medicare and aged care payments systems, and another bit for My Aged Care. Apparently there was also $5 million over two years to help the National Children’s Digital Health Collaborative to develop a national digital baby book, although we missed that in all the excitement over massive tax cuts that look unlikely to eventuate. We still can't track this announcement down in the voluminous budget papers so would welcome anyone kindly showing us the way.

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