Pulse+IT Blog

L for licence to operate

Health Minister Greg Hunt had the conspiracy theorists in a bit of a tizz last week when he lodged a little piece of paper authorising that the opt-out model for the My Health Record begin some time next year. Everyone thought he'd already done this but it turns out it is a three-step process, with the actual date for the three-month opt-out period yet to be announced but most likely to begin in mid-2018.

That didn't stop the tinfoil hatters, though, who insisted that the three months actually began on the date he lodged the rule, namely last Thursday, and that the government was tricking us all into getting a MyHR without our knowledge. The horrors that lie within the MyHR are such that only by conning us will the government get anyone on board, they reckon.

What's going on with Health Care Homes?

The flurry of activity in the primary healthcare sector continued to dominate the news this week, with the big guns in the private pathology sector all now signing on to connect to the My Health Record, patient education getting a run and patient portals also in the news.

But while our most popular story for the week was the news that Primary and ACL are joining Sonic in working towards uploading private pathology reports to the national system, there was also news about other big public initiatives kicking off, including the cervical cancer screening program renewal and the second tranche of practices going live as Health Care Homes.

Listen to the heartbeat

Primary care was back in the news this week, highlighted by yesterday's announcement that Fred IT had won the tender to build Victoria's new real-time prescription monitoring system, with ReferralNet and Argus scoring a few runs on secure messaging, a new survey out looking at the digital general practice, and a whole gang of diagnostic imaging software vendors signing up for the My Health Record.

The survey, carried out by online booking, recall and reminder service HotDoc, had a number of very interesting nuggets – not the least of which is that yes, sometimes your patients will pay to not have to come in to see you – but also the finding that most people use online booking systems not for their own convenience but so they can book their personal doctor more conveniently. A good proportion are also willing to follow their doctor when they change practices, which just reiterates what everyone has been banging on about for years now about how the relationship between doctor and patient is a special one.

ADHA's positive self-report card

The Australian Digital Health Agency released its first annual report this week and gave itself a nice pat on the back for a few milestones reached. The agency, which likes to style itself as the Agency with a capital A and which we like to imagine is modelled after a certain bureau (of investigation) with a capital B, laid out its strategic priorities and how it reckons it measured up.

Turns out it reckons it did OK, fulfilling a number of strategic priorities such as setting up the secure messaging trials, writing the national digital health strategy, and increasing the number of people and organisations registered for the My Health Record. While the agency has been set up to handle a few different things, progress with the MyHR is of course the biggie, so we were keen to see what it had to report.

Doing digital across the ditch

After the utter shambles that was last week in Canberra it was a relief for Pulse+IT to head over the Tasman to check out what the K Ones were up to at the annual Health Informatics New Zealand conference in Rotorua this week.

Having just come off their own drawn-out political saga we were wondering what the vibe was like over the ditch, what was happening with the New Zealand Digital Health Strategy, and whether it would turn out like the bit of a damp squib that Australia's seems to have done.

Clinical content is king

The My Health Record was back in the news bigly this week as the Digital Health Agency announced that three community pharmacy software vendors had connected to the system, joining frontrunners Fred IT and Simple Retail, which both managed the feat way back in May 2013.

With 1404 out of the estimated 5500 pharmacies in Australia currently registered with the system as of November 5, that number is likely to increase substantially. Symbion's Minfos, for example, boasts about 800 pharmacies as customers, and with the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society now behind the My Health Record, we expect many of the others will sign up soon enough.

Senate turns on a stunner

Political junkies were utterly entranced by the events in Canberra this week as Australia's 45th Parliament turned into an utter farce, the end result of which is that the government has lost its majority and the Senate has thankfully lost one of its looser marbles.

Senator-no-more Malcolm Roberts has been given the boot and few will miss his presence or his egregious attacks on science and the country's collective intelligence. At the same time, we have lost Fiona Nash as well. While she is a champion for rural Australians and their health, she rarely contributed much as the government's representative when the Senate community affairs committee examined the health portfolio during budget estimates hearings.

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