Pulse+IT Blog

Ransomware goes big game hunting

Cybersecurity was back in the news this week with the release of a couple of reports detailing the extent and cost of malicious cyber activity over the last year for healthcare and other industries. Security software firm Malwarebytes released its 2020 State of Malware Report this week, reporting that the healthcare sector was the fifth most popular industry for attack in 2019.

The report pointed to an increase in attacks on businesses over consumers, and to increased sophistication in attacks, with large organisations becoming bigger targets in an exercise known as big game hunting. The attacks are also increasingly likely to be launched on several fronts, with Trojans used to get into systems to deliver ransomware as the payload.

No getting away from Dr Google

The big news this week was the announcement by the Australian Digital Health Agency that Melbourne Pathology had started uploading pathology reports to the My Health Record. Melbourne Pathology is one of Sonic Healthcare's subsidiaries and this marks another step forward in making valuable clinical information available to patients.

Melbourne Pathology is following in the footsteps of another Sonic subsidiary in Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, which connected to the system last year. And with one of the big three private pathology providers now routinely uploading reports and the majority of state pathology services also doing so, there might actually be a reason for people to take a look at their record. The other big providers, Healius and Australian Clinical Labs, are still to get on board.

Opioids, kickbacks and EMRs

As the local health IT industry gears up for next week's HL7 International working group meeting in Sydney, the big news this week has come from the US, where the full details of the massive $US145 million fine levied against practice management system vendor Practice Fusion were revealed.

Practice Fusion, which first developed a PMS in 2008 and spruiked it to small, independent family doctor practices from its headquarters in San Francisco, gained substantial market share when it decided to offer the system for free. It quickly gathered investors and was a successful company, earning its revenue from advertising sales, predominantly from pharmaceutical companies. Practices were able to get an ad-free version by paying $100 a month, but few did.

Amazon signals entry to pharmacy jungle

It was back in June 2018 that eCommerce giant Amazon first signalled it was seriously interested in shaking up the pharmacy market when it bought full service digital pharmacy PillPack for over $US750 million. PillPack specialises in shipping prescription medications directly to patients, managing repeats on their behalf and has also developed an automated system to individually sort and label medications for patients to take by time and date.

PillPack has since run into a bit of trouble in the US following a decision by the country's largest electronic prescription exchange service, Surescripts, to end a data-sharing agreement with a third party that has effectively cut PillPack off from patients' medication history, but it's unlikely Amazon is going to give up. The US is the prime market but Amazon has since cast its eye wider, including to Australia.

Kelsey calls time at ADHA

As the year draws to a close so has Tim Kelsey's time at the Australian Digital Health Agency. Mr Kelsey is off to do something exciting in analytics at HIMSS, best known for its digital adoption maturity models, but he will remain living in Australia so we expect him to pop up now and then in Pulse+IT.

In a sign-off email, Mr Kelsey said he was proud of what had been collectively achieved at ADHA, including that Australia has a national digital health strategy which all its governments have agreed to. Mr Kelsey was predominantly responsible for writing that strategy and it's quite a good one, with defined steps and timelines that might be achievable with the right will.

Bonkers start to the new year

Welcome back to readers from the Pulse+IT team, which has refreshed itself over the summer break by doing a little redesign of the daily eNewsletter for 2020. We've made some improvements to the template so articles can be more easily shared on social channels and so the newsletter can be displayed differently on phones, making mobile reading easier.

We've also redesigned the Pulse+IT Directory, which lists the products and services provided by Australia and New Zealand's leading clinical software and health IT vendors, so take a look around if you are in the market.

My Health Record remobilises

It has taken well over a year but it appears that the Australian Digital Health Agency's plans to allow mobile apps to access the My Health Record are getting back on track.

The agency closed off new entrants to the mobile gateway in August 2018, at the height of the drama over the first opt-out period. At that time, one of the four apps with portal operator status, Tyde, was forced to re-evaluate its business model when changes were made to legislation to prevent insurance companies from handling My Health Record data.

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