Pulse+IT Blog

Light shed on the black pen of doom

The pettiness that can be indulged in by bureaucrats given free rein over government communications with a black pen was laid bare this week with the release to The Canberra Times of the full independent report into the COVIDSafe app and its usefulness during the first 10 months of the pandemic last year.

Readers will remember that a heavily redacted version was released publicly in July, with the vast majority blacked out or blanked out and what remained simply revealing a potted history of the app and its development. We suspected then that the report must have been uncomplimentary and so it has proved, but what was surprising was how ridiculous the redactions were, surely done for political reasons and not based on any great secrets of state.

13 years later, we’re still thinking about tomorrow

You know that saying about how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? It’s usually misattributed to Albert Einstein or George Bernard Shaw but there’s decent enough evidence that it was first muttered by a member of Al-Anon about a dodgy family member who liked too much of a tipple.

Pulse+IT was pondering this profundity this week when we heard word that the Australian Digital Health Agency was setting out once again on the quest to develop a national digital health strategy that would deliver the Australian health system into a glorious digital future. ADHA is required to develop a new strategy as the last one is due to run out next year, and it has now set upon the usual round of consultations with the usual suspects.

Movers and shakers in a time of crisis

Sydney is under curfew, NSW as a whole is in lockdown, Victoria is holding steady, there are new restrictions in the ACT, the NT and New Zealand, and even Tasmania is foreshadowing the ominous things to come by releasing its lockdown protocol ahead of anything like a recent local infection.

Strange days indeed, and not likely to change in the immediate future. We hear that the Australasian Institute of Digital Health is shortly to announce it will go fully virtual with its planned half virtual/half in person hybrid conference in Melbourne this year, and will not be surprised if HINZ’s Digital Health Week NZ in-person conference scheduled for late November in Wellington suffers the same fate as NZ enters stage 4 lockdown and three new cases are reported in Welly today.

Telstra Health’s big MedicalDirector buy

Vague mutterings about the real value of once-dominant general practice management software vendor MedicalDirector have echoed through the years, particularly since it was flogged off to a private equity firm by former owner Primary Health Care (now Healius) in 2016 for what we thought of at the time as the extravagant sum of $155 million.

Five years later and the private equity owners have done their job, stripping the company of staff through multiple rounds of redundancies to cut costs and maximise their sale price. Telstra Health, amongst others, has been sniffing around for a few years, and earlier this week announced it had snapped MD up for the astonishing sum of $350 million. It dwarfs Telstra Health’s earlier acquisition of 18-odd companies for a combined total of $235-240 million, as well as its recent purchase of PowerHealth Solutions for $95m.

Yes Minister, your app is a dud

Pulse+IT’s Tasmanian correspondent has had the great good fortune to live in close proximity to one of the quarantine hotels called into action recently to house seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. From what we can tell, some locals returning from the Indian subcontinent who have to do their two weeks in isolation have been housed there too. But it is the Samoan guests in particular who have become famous down our way for their fantastic spirits while isolating for the past fortnight, and for the joy they have given voice to.

With no local infections recorded for the last 400+ days we are in a good position in Tasmania – recently voted one of the best places in the world in which to ride out an apocalypse, along with New Zealand, Iceland and Ireland – so the residents of the quarantine hotels have been given a little leeway and allowed out on the balconies to enjoy the Hobart winter and regale us with their song. They have been marvellous – if you haven’t heard about them, click here and here. The other guests have also been in good spirits and have been laughing and chatting and waving to passers-by, which we have enjoyed immensely.

When government digital systems work, they can work well

Pulse+IT is not alone in criticising certain digital platforms developed by various governments for healthcare and we are certainly not going to stop now, but we are happy to give credit where credit is due when it comes to good systems that appear to work. In particular, we’d like to laud the improvements made to myGov, which was an absolute trainwreck in its early days but has now become a reasonably seamless operation.

Bubble bursts behind the ring of steel

The pain for the locked down people of NSW continued this week and got worse on Friday, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling the situation in her state a national emergency, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calling for a ring of steel around greater Sydney and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bursting the trans-Tasman bubble and rolling up the shutters on quarantine-free travel for the next two months.

Yesterday, Ms Berejiklian pleaded with Sydneysiders to get vaccinated, including under 40s to consider getting AstraZeneca, which Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state was “awash” with. “If you’re under 40 and want AstraZeneca, please, please check with your GP,” she said. “If your GP gives you the green light, please get the vaccine. Please, please, come forward and get vaccinated.”

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