Pulse+IT Blog

Flap about MyHR on an app

The most popular story this week on Pulse+IT was our chat with some of the medicines safety team from the Australian Digital Health Agency, who fleshed out the expected structure of the new electronic prescriptions network that should begin in earnest in the new year.

The plan is for a small implementation in one rural area, probably in Tasmania and probably involving Fred IT, before the roll-out gathers pace and eScripts eventually become business as usual. The network will use existing infrastructure such as the two prescription exchange services eRx and MediSecure, but the ADHA team was keen to emphasise that it expects the new capability to attract new entrants into the market, as well as a proliferation of medication-related apps.

eScripts on the horizon

As expected, the roll out of electronic prescriptions in Australia will not be as fast as health minister Greg Hunt was spruiking back in July, but this week we have seen substantive moves towards a national ePrescription system with the federal government gazetting the legality of eScripts alongside paper scripts in federal legislation.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has also published the solution architecture and conformance requirements for prescribing and dispensing software, which it has co-designed with the medical software industry and healthcare provider organisations. It will be another year at least before consumers are using the capability – ADHA told us this week it is targeting June 2022 for a full implementation, as per the national digital health strategy – and there are hopes for a small start early next year in a rural and a metropolitan setting.

My Aged Care and a shocking tale of neglect

The one-word title of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is stark: Neglect. The report is a sobering read for those working in and around the aged care system and details much higher levels of poorly managed continence, malnutrition, overprescribing of psychotropic drugs and actual physical abuse than previously thought. Dental health is bad, wound care is worse, nutrition is abominable.

The report details a litany of problems with the sector, especially workforce problems, but unfortunately a lot of them start when older people and their families first begin to investigate their options for care. Their entry point is My Aged Care, a system that was recommendation of the Productivity Commission's Caring for older Australians inquiry in 2011. The My Aged Care website went live six years ago and the contact centre and client record about four years ago, but according to the commissioners, it is not delivering the vision the Productivity Commission outlined of seamlessly allowing people to navigate the system, and does not seem to be delivering much at all.

Cold bath for MedicalDirector's numbers

We received word at the start of this week that GP software vendor MedicalDirector was about to enter the UK market with its Helix product, having been chosen to be part of the NHS's new GP IT Futures program. MedicalDirector is on a panel with six other PMS vendors, including the four incumbents, and Helix is the only cloud-based product among them.

It's big news for MedicalDirector, which has struggled to sell Helix since its launch in 2017. Helix was expected to be rolled out to all 73 medical centres in former owner Primary Health Care's network but that plan has stalled and Primary, now called Healius, has rolled out MedicalDirector Clinical, the on-premise package that most people still refer to as MedicalDirector 3, in its stead.

PHOs, PHNs and the cyber threat

Wellington, NZ residents woke up last Saturday to the unpalatable news that local primary health organisation Tū Ora Compass Health had its IT system hacked four times over the last three years, and it is unlikely it will ever know if patient information has been accessed.

Two of the hacks appear to have been old-fashioned defacing of websites by a malicious hacktivist, but the other two may prove to be a bit more serious. While PHOs don't hold patients' medical data, they do keep records of people who are enrolled at general practices in the region, their National Health Index number, and their name, date of birth and address. That is all very valuable information for identity fraudsters.

Curious case in FNQ

This week kicked off with a curious story first revealed over the weekend by the Cairns Post, which reported that the two far north Queensland hospital and health services had parted ways with the vendor chosen to roll out the electronic medical record part of the proposed Regional eHealth Project (ReHP).

This project has been on the drawing board since 2012, when Queensland Health got lucky in a bid for funding from the Commonwealth Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF), which was one of three infrastructure investment funds set up in the 2008-9 federal budget to the tune of $22.4 billion. The HHF got $5 billion of that to fund capital investment in health facilities, including for medical technology and equipment.

Ransom wars: Attack of the cybers

The big news this week was the cyber attack on hospitals in Gippsland and south-west Victoria, which knocked out clinical and administrative systems in the region including some large facilities such as University Hospital Geelong and Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon.

We received word that the attack involves Ryuk, a particularly nasty piece of ransomware that has also affected hospitals in the US and Canada, including three this week in Alabama that had to turn away patients. It has also been causing havoc for financial organisations and some major US newspaper groups since it first appeared last year.

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