Pulse+IT Blog

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.

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.

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.

Is ADHA's magical mystery tour finally bearing fruit?

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) was back in the news this last fortnight as the large round of consultations it has been doing – or what we like to call Tim Kelsey's magical mystery tour – comes to an end and work on a new national eHealth strategy starts in earnest.

There has been a flurry of activity, with tenders issued for secure messaging proof of concept trials and pharmacy software vendors incentivised to hook up to the My Health Record. Just this week the members of some of the agency's advisory committees were revealed, some of them extremely worthy. And on Friday, we found out a few details about the next release of the MyHR and what spiffing new features to expect, the most important from a clinical perspective being a unified view of medications and better searchability of pathology and diagnostic imaging reports.

Who'd put their hand up to be health minister?

It didn't come as a huge surprise when NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced on Friday that she had decided now was the time to get out, with new Premier Gladys Berejiklian likely to reshuffle her cabinet and much of the gossip on Macquarie St centred on bringing fresh faces onto the front bench following the retirement of Mike Baird.

It wasn't a surprise but it was a shame, as Mrs Skinner has been a pretty good health minister all things considered. Her deep knowledge of the portfolio is legendary – she did spend 14 years as opposition health spokesperson before ascending to the leather throne in 2011 – and she is widely admired for her passion for healthcare and the healthcare system, both public and private.

Ashby steps up as digital hospital budget blows out

It has been a somewhat rocky road for Queensland Health and its eHealth ventures over the last few years and it seems little has changed, with a new face stepping up to front eHealth Queensland just as the state's Auditor-General reveals a bit of a blow-out in the budgets for a couple of high-profile eHealth roll-outs.

Just as Pulse+IT reports that the digital hospital version of the Cerner electronic medical record has cost a little more than expected at Brisbane's Metro South Hospital and Health Service's Princess Alexandra Hospital, we hear that Metro South's CEO and “digital hospital evangelist” Richard Ashby has secured the CEO/CIO gig at eHealth Queensland.

Telstra Health sticks to Solomon strategy as rumours swirl

Telstra Health was back in the news this week, with Telstra's group executive for new businesses Cynthia Whelan keen to talk to Pulse+IT about her strategy for the coming year. The former investment banker and Barclays ANZ CEO has taken a real interest in the new division, which when compared to the rest of Telstra is so small that it doesn't yet trouble the balance sheet but is of deep and abiding interest to our readers.

Ms Whelan is set to continue the strategy laid out by inaugural MD Shane Solomon, who while he is retiring from the company is still going to be involved in the roll-out of the National Cancer Screening Register. Despite the dramas of last year, it appears that Telstra Health is on track to deliver the NCSR, and Ms Whelan is keen to go for more large, complex projects of this kind.

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