Pulse+IT Blog

Telehealth pilots begin the move to business class

The memorable phrase first coined by Adelaide GP Tori Wade that telehealth in Australia has “more pilots than Qantas” got a nice little workout at the Australian Telehealth Conference (ATC2017) in Melbourne this week, but while it may be in vogue for a little bit longer, the consensus seems to be that we are beginning to see the move from itty bitty pilot projects to embedding telehealth as business as usual in the provision of healthcare.

That may not necessarily be true as yet in primary care, predominantly due to the funding model, but it is certainly beginning to be seen in secondary care, particularly for outpatients services for rural patients and but also in emergency care in regional areas where specialists are hard to come by. All states and territories are now taking telehealth seriously, even the small ones, and a lot of the thanks for that is due to a mixture of political enthusiasm for sexy tech but also the hard yards that a number of clinical groups in a number of states have done over the years.

Good luck rubs off on Genie

Besides a ramble from a slightly unhinged Pulse+IT journalist last week, which turned out to be our most-read article, the big news this week was the sale of specialist software vendor Genie Solutions to a proudly ethical private equity firm. The value of the deal is confidential but we understand it is substantial and so it should be.

Founder Paul Carr and his extended family deserve all the financial benefits that come from having done the hard yards to build Genie into a popular product and a substantial Australian health IT company over the last 22 years.

Back on the My Health Record nonsense merry-go-round

It's never nice to kick someone on the redundancy line when they are down but the sub-editor at the Daily Telegraph who decided to come up with a headline screaming about your optometrist finding out about all of your abortions because of the My Health Record seriously needs to reevaluate their career choices.

While we had a nice little story about pathology reports finally going up to the MyHR from public hospitals in NSW, over at the Terror it was full-on nonsense mode, in which the fact that access controls are set on universal by default is somehow a 'bungle'. It's not, they've always been like that, consumers can change them whenever they like and no, it doesn't mean 600,000 people will be exposed to your haemorrhoids.

Who'd want to be a listed health IT company?

Poor old Orion Health took an absolute bath on the stock exchange this week, its share price plummeting 15 per cent on Monday and another 14 per cent on Tuesday after it provided an update to the market. The reason? A slightly lower revenue forecast, a shrinking bank balance and a few new contracts sliding into FY 2018, including a small but important win to provide a shared care record in the county of Dorset in the UK.

Orion is doing well in the massive US sector, which has been its largest market for some time, but it's likely that the company will have to ask investors for a bit more dough in the short term or start to draw down on its debt facility. As a health IT company like Orion is a long-term bet, you do have to wonder what the scaredy cats who deserted it this week were doing investing in the first place.

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.

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.

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.

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