Pulse+IT Blog

eReferrals, EMRs and the interminable telehealth saga

The dictionary definition of a saga is an Icelandic epic narrative, a long and complicated story in which famous families do this and that over a long period of time and there is a major element of heroic exploits. The common definition is of a long and complicated story to which there seems no end. The former sounds great; the latter sounds like health IT policy in Australia.

As a new federal government settles in in Canberra and a couple of state governments begin their respective roads to re-election with big-spending budgets and ministerial reshuffles, longstanding healthcare horrors lurk in the background, ready to trip up any new administration. For the feds, it is the deep trough of health and aged care funding, along with our old friend “permanent” telehealth. For the states, the funding trough is allied to a history of administrative bungling and an inability of the health sector as a whole to get with the times.

Fantasy or reality: Oracle’s plans for Cerner

Probably the biggest story in health IT this year and so far this decade has been Oracle’s enormous outlay in buying the world’s largest EMR vendor, Cerner, for 28 billion dollarydoos. Exactly what Oracle hopes to achieve with the acquisition has been a bit of a mystery, beyond the fact that Cerner is a very profitable company, with revenues of $US5.5 billion a year and net earnings of about half a billion.

Cerner also has a huge amount of future earnings on its books, with the enormous US Veterans Affairs EHR project, worth eleventy billion dollars, still rolling out and a footprint in most developed countries that far outstrips its nearest rival in Epic. But beyond the obvious financial benefits, what if anything Oracle hopes to achieve with the purchase has so far remained unclear.

My Health Record: 10 years, no progress, no news

We here at Pulse+IT like to keep an eye on not just industry media coverage of health IT but mainstream media coverage too, and this week provided quite a few morsels. The Guardian ran one of its regular stories on the My Health Record last week and while we think it got it right in terms of balance – it reported those who were for, those who were against and those who were in between – nothing new was revealed, to be honest.

The MyHR/PCEHR was launched almost 10 years ago (not 12) and it has cost upwards of $2.6 billion (not less) but otherwise the main thrust of The Guardian’s story is on the money. The system simply isn’t being used, not that this is news to anyone. The RACGP’s in-house PR unit newsGP was touting a spike in use in January, due to people looking at their COVID vax record and PCR results, but the figures pretty much returned to normal after that. Yes, you can see your vax records and test results on a nice little dashboard in My Health Record, but you can also get them elsewhere. The big use case for patients simply isn’t being met by the system.

New gov, new ministers, new name: same old story?

A new era in Australia’s health and aged care sector got off to a big start this week, with a new government elected, a new set of ministers announced, and a new name for the Department of Health (see below) revealed to a thrilled audience (see tweet).

Mark Butler has taken on the big job of Minister for Health and Aged Care, and with both sectors in crisis, it will be a massive task. He has an assistant in new minister for aged care Anika Wells and three junior ministers in Ged Kearney and Emma McBride – both of whom have clinical experience – and Malarndirri McCarthy, who has a great deal of experience in Indigenous policy.

Election 2022: sports rorts, car porks and many snouts in the trough

No matter which party wins tomorrow’s Australian federal election or who holds the balance of power, there are three generation-defining issues facing the country: climate change, debt and healthcare. All three rank the highest in voters’ concerns, and detailed answers to all three have been tacitly avoided by the two major parties during this election campaign.

When it comes to health – whether that is primary care, hospital care, aged care, disability care or preventative health – the problems are stark and the answers are not easy, but they need to be confronted. The Coalition boasts of its record funding for Medicare and its response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, while the ALP conjures up urgent care clinics, voluntary patient enrolment and ensuring our elderly are properly fed. The Greens want to add dental care to the mix, and even though there is a very noticeable number of trained doctors standing for parliament, most are running on platforms concerned with climate change or political integrity rather than fixing the health system.

Tasmania puts money where its mouth is

Tasmania pulled off a bit of a stunner this week with the release of its digital health strategy a day or so before the state budget, announcing the first tranche in what is a substantial investment for the state in digital health. $475 million over 10 years is a lot considering Tassie’s small population and its historic underspend on healthcare, and while money has certainly been shovelled into hospital infrastructure over the years – including $689m in Royal Hobart’s K-Block – digital health has never had much of a look in.

There have been some notable digital health initiatives – the country’s first prescription monitoring system, the Tasmanian medicines formulary and controlled drug management system, a statewide health directory, and the first real go at a statewide eReferrals system that is up and running and scoring runs. (A lot of this is with the help and initiative of Hobart software and data specialist HealthCare Software.) All of the state’s GPs use either Best Practice or MedicalDirector, the two pathology providers accept eOrders, and telehealth has been well established in the private sector for over 15 years.

Local IT firms step up for JP2060

It was a very obscure little link on the Australian government’s AusTender website that first alerted technology news site ITnews and then Pulse+IT last week to the long-awaited announcement of the awarding of the JP2060 Phase 4 eHealth system replacement for the Australian Defence Force to Leidos Australia. The contract was costed at a very precise three hundred and twenty-nine million, six hundred and fifty-two thousand, six hundred and forty-three dollars and eighty cents, ($329,652,643.80), although Leidos this week in its PR said priced it at $299 million. According to ITnews the contract was signed last December, although there is no word on why it was not publicly announced at the time and was only revealed in April.

Sign up for Pulse+IT eNewsletters

Sign up for Pulse+IT website access

For more information, click here.

Copyright © 2022 Pulse+IT Communications Pty Ltd
No content published on this website can be reproduced by any person for any reason without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Supported by Social Media Agency | pepperit