Pulse+IT Blog

Who'd put their hand up to be health minister?

It didn't come as a huge surprise when NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced on Friday that she had decided now was the time to get out, with new Premier Gladys Berejiklian likely to reshuffle her cabinet and much of the gossip on Macquarie St centred on bringing fresh faces onto the front bench following the retirement of Mike Baird.

It wasn't a surprise but it was a shame, as Mrs Skinner has been a pretty good health minister all things considered. Her deep knowledge of the portfolio is legendary – she did spend 14 years as opposition health spokesperson before ascending to the leather throne in 2011 – and she is widely admired for her passion for healthcare and the healthcare system, both public and private.

Telstra Health sticks to Solomon strategy as rumours swirl

Telstra Health was back in the news this week, with Telstra's group executive for new businesses Cynthia Whelan keen to talk to Pulse+IT about her strategy for the coming year. The former investment banker and Barclays ANZ CEO has taken a real interest in the new division, which when compared to the rest of Telstra is so small that it doesn't yet trouble the balance sheet but is of deep and abiding interest to our readers.

Ms Whelan is set to continue the strategy laid out by inaugural MD Shane Solomon, who while he is retiring from the company is still going to be involved in the roll-out of the National Cancer Screening Register. Despite the dramas of last year, it appears that Telstra Health is on track to deliver the NCSR, and Ms Whelan is keen to go for more large, complex projects of this kind.

Health minister flies into scandal to herald new year

There's nothing like the resignation of a health minister, even temporarily, to get the year in healthcare off to an interesting start so we thank Sussan Ley for her contribution to shaking the cobwebs out of the old year and giving us a cracking start to the new.

Ms Ley's decision to stand aside on Monday was the right one and, considering the outpouring of public disgust during the week at the culture of entitlement that seems rife in the political class, her decision to resign on Friday was probably the correct one too.

Health information management: at the heart of healthcare

Even before last month's national conference for the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) opened, it was clear that health information management really is “at the heart of healthcare”, the theme for this year’s event.

In opening the annual conference for Australia’s health information management (HIM) and clinical classification peak bodies respectively, the secretary of Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services Kym Peake described state of the art developments for Australia’s health reform 'pathfinder' jurisdiction, particularly in the area of eHealth, and health information management and clinical classification were central to reform at every turn.

Digital hospitals will roll on despite chequered career for EMRs

Our little scoop on Tuesday about the shortlist for the Northern Territory's $186 million Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program (CCSRP) was by far the most-read story for the week and one of the most popular for the year, and last week's story about how Royal Children’s Hospital has fared with its new EMR wasn't far behind.

The release of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) digital health strategy, which included some interesting tidbits on the EMR plans of some its health services, was also popular, as were the ever-interesting dramas surrounding the much-maligned EPAS in South Australia.

Microsoft Excel as clinical software and other fabulous beasts

In a week that was dominated by chatter about the purchase of a smallish Aussie EMR vendor by a global EMR behemoth and the never-assuaged desire for news of all things My Health Record, it was a nice yarn about two Top Enders adapting what tools they had at hand to a job that needed doing that piqued the curiosity of many of our readers.

They have built a bespoke system that takes reports from two commercial products – CSC's MedChart ePrescribing system and InterSystems' TrakCare Lab pathology system – dumps them into an Excel spreadsheet and runs them through a series of rules. At the end is a practical and easy to use antimicrobial stewardship system that they believe has prevented many adverse events.

Could discharge summaries be the carrot for GP views of the MyHR?

One of the more interesting stats in a presentation chock full of them given by Nepean Blue Mountains PHN's Donna Sedgman at Pen Computer Systems' PHN conference in Sydney last week was that GPs in her catchment were three times more likely to be able to see a patient's discharge summary on the My Health Record (MyHR) than they were to receive it by secure messaging.

While the vast majority of GPs surely would prefer that they receive it by the latter route, in the absence of that happening reliably the MyHR does provide an alternative, not the least because those hospitals that are linked to the system – and there are quite a lot of them now, including the subject of one of our most popular stories this week, Royal Children's Hospital – are sending discharge summaries up for those patients who have a record.

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