Pulse+IT Blog

Real-time prescription monitoring needs to get real

Queensland's new 10-year digital health strategy, a sneak peek at the new Monash Children's Hospital, the establishment of a diagnostic imaging program and a strong opinion piece by HIMAA CEO Richard Lawrance on the shaky state of the health information management professions were all popular stories this week, but one that caught our attention concerned a topic we have been following closely for some years now: real-time monitoring of prescription drugs.

While the Pharmacy Guild's MedsASSIST system was set up as part of a multi-pronged strategy to resist the rescheduling of pharmacy-only (S3) medicines containing codeine to prescription-only (S4), the development of the system showed what could be done if there was a will and a way. As everyone in the healthcare industry knows, the Guild is a force to be reckoned with and the power of its lobbying strength puts almost any other industry association to shame, and while it ultimately lost the battle to keep sales of codeine-containing analgesics over the counter, the speed with which it designed, built and rolled out MedsASSIST showed what it can do when it sets its mind to it.

Opt-out adopted for My Health Record

In news that will come as a surprise to no one, the state and territory health ministers, along with new federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and special guest NZ Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, met in Melbourne today for one of their regular COAG Health Council hoedowns and agreed to adopt the opt-out participation model for the My Health Record on a national scale.

Exactly when the move will be triggered is anyone's guess as the exercise will probably cost squillions, but there has long been a consensus among the powers that be that a critical mass must be reached if the thing is ever to be of use and it was always more than probable that opt-out would be given the go-ahead. Dr Coleman would have taken an interest in today's developments as they are planning a national EHR across the ditch as well.

Royal Children's a model of EMR adoption

By far our most popular story for the week was the announcement that Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital had attained Stage 6 in the electronic medical record adoption model (EMRAM) framework developed by the US-based HIMSS, not just for its inpatient systems but for outpatients too.

While a framed certificate is all well and good if you get to hang it on your wall and it's even better if you've got two of them, the obvious question is whether an EMR is worth all of the time, effort and money put in. The total for RCH for that time and effort came to $48 million, which does make your eyes water a bit but which is pretty much par for the course these days when you take a mainly paper-based hospital to a fully digital one virtually overnight.

Has MediTracker cracked the toughest nut?

There was huge interest in our story this week on the MediTracker app that is shortly to be launched by Precedence Health Care, which will do what has so far been impossible in Australia and let patients see a summary of their GP medical record on their phone or iPad.

Along with the Healthi app made available a couple of weeks ago by Chamonix that gives patients mobile access to their My Health Record, the MediTracker app looks to be a bit of a game-changer for mobile access to health information in this country.

Aged care needs to be real in the My Health deal

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.

NCSR – it's all about the optics

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.

A little less conversation, a little more action

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.

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