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.
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.
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.