It's always fun to watch senators on the government side of the benches squirm under the questioning of their opponents at the carnival that is Senate estimates, where the usual power structure is reversed and normally obscure parliamentarians can have their day in the sun. After all, this is where Bronwyn Bishop first made her mark back in the Hawke-Keating years and look how well that turned out.
This week in the Senate, we were served up an absolute treat as NSW Senator Fiona Nash fidgeted and fussed through a couple of hours of intense questioning by the Greens' Richard Di Natale and Labor's Murray Watt over the delay to the roll-out of the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR). Not that Senator Nash had much to say for herself, with Department of Health secretary Martin Bowles and Commonwealth chief medical officer Brendan Murphy taking most of the heat.
The news this week that ACIVA, the group representing IT vendors servicing the aged care industry, has agreed to merge with the more established group covering medical software vendors, the MSIA, was welcome for a number of reasons, not just because there will now be a unified voice representing the makers and marketers of digital health solutions for all sectors of the healthcare industry.
It also hopefully means that the reality of what 'aged care' actually is and the IT support it needs will be better understood as it gets a larger seat at the eHealth table. While for many the concept of aged care centres around older people living in nursing homes, aged care has long been and will increasingly be delivered in the community, with the numbers of elderly people remaining at home continuing to grow and residential aged care restricted to the very old, the very frail and the very cognitively impaired.
It was only last week that we were complaining there had been a little too much consultation and not enough action and what do you know: Elvis leaves the building and a mobile app – along with news of the next release of the My Health Record – suddenly appear.
IT consulting firm Chamonix, which has done some very useful work helping the states and territories hook their hospitals up to the MyHR through its HIPS middleware and played an important part in the Northern Territory's migration of its My eHealth Record over to the national system, has developed not just a HIPS app for hospital clinicians but a Healthi app aimed at consumers.