Pulse+IT Blog

Hopes for secure messaging interoperability meet reality

Pulse+IT celebrated its 15th anniversary just a few months ago and while we don’t like to reflect too much on the damage those long years have wreaked upon our good looks, modest charms and superior intellect, it would be remiss of us not to mention some of the dashed promises and forlorn hopes that have accompanied our journey.

Our first issue was printed in August 2006, featuring a glamorous photo of a Canon camera and a rather unpleasant skin cancer to illustrate a story on digital clinical photography, along with the wise words of our first ever covergirl, then health minister the Hon Mr Tony Abbott.

Telehealth’s primary care use case side-swiped by danger money

We must admit that we are still scratching our heads at Australian health minister Greg Hunt’s recent announcement of a new $180 million package to support COVID-19 care in the community in the future. There are some interesting bits, such as the subsidy for pulse oximeters for positive patients to use at home, and a small amount of money for medical deputising services and district nurses to visit COVID patients at home.

But putting aside the fact that there is simply no excess workforce capacity for nurses to visit people at home, let alone GPs – medical deputising services may be in a different boat – nor can we find a compelling reason behind the announcement that GPs will be paid an extra $25 to see COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive patients face to face, in addition to existing MBS items.

FHIR storm still smoulders as connectathon looms

The FHIR standard was back in the spotlight this week with the ongoing fall-out from the recent publication of a super duper report into vulnerabilities that may eventuate from poor implementations of the standard by third parties.

Last week, HL7 International took what is a very unusual step in releasing a statement emphasising that the vulnerabilities are at the implementation end and certainly not at the standard itself, and touting that the author had changed the title of her report to reflect this.

Victoria’s bumpy path to a digital health roadmap

Pulse+IT was a keen attendee at this week’s Health Information Management Association of Australia’s (HIMAA) annual conference, which naturally in this pandemic era was held virtually. It was pretty good too, and revealed quite a lot of information about Victoria’s digital health roadmap, which was launched back in August but got little if any coverage due to the pandemic itself.

The roadmap is in no way a grand, sweeping vision like others purport to be but is instead built around existing projects – most of which have been precipitated by Stephen Duckett’s Targeting Zero review of hospital safety and quality assurance from 2016 and the more recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – and turns out to be a pragmatic, practical strategy that takes into account the decentralised nature of the state’s health service.

My Health Record and the confessions of a doctor dodger

A landmark report in Australian healthcare was handed down this week with the release of the recommendations from the independent Primary Health Reform Steering Group on the federal government’s primary healthcare plan for the next 10 years.

The report is very much influenced by the Department of Health’s voluntary patient registration (VPR) model, which seems to have taken over as preferred policy from ideas like Health Care Homes and patient-centred medical homes. (It’s interesting that GPs who have in the past railed against the idea of capitation seem to be quite keen on VPR, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

FHIR storm erupts over scary vulnerabilities in third-party apps

In the real world, Australia and New Zealand began to put into action their respective roadmaps out of lockdown this week as vaccination numbers rose to much hoped-for levels. However, in the somewhat obscure world of health IT standards, a quite remarkable report was released late last week that has stimulated a firestorm of debate over the basic security of healthcare data.

Las Vegas-based cybersecurity analyst, former hacker and content creator Alissa Knight – who going by her bio and her Knight Ink business description is surely to become the subject of a novel one day if not a pretty cool movie – released the second phase of a year-long research project she has undertaken into the basic security of apps and aggregators drawing data from FHIR APIs linked to electronic medical records and other patient record databases.

MSIA on the warpath as Genie is let out of the bottle

A big week in health IT kicked off on Monday with the announcement that medical specialist software vendor Genie Solutions had been sold to Citadel Group for the very healthy sum of $260 million. Considering that a majority stake in Genie was sold just four years ago for $55m, this is a pretty good return on investment for its private equity investors, but coming off the back of the extraordinary amount that Telstra Health paid for MedicalDirector, it shows that there is serious money out there at the moment for technology stocks.

We understand from immaculate sources that Genie Solutions was still planning to publicly list as late as last week, but had also been in discussions with Citadel for some time and was also offered up to Telstra Health. Telstra had to decide between MedicalDirector and Genie as it could not afford both, and chose the former, paying $350m for the GP sector’s second most used software. While understandable in the short term considering Telstra has long spoken about joining up disparate parts of the healthcare system in Australia, of which GPs are fundamental, but when it comes to long-term growth, we think Genie was the better bet.

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