Pulse+IT Blog

Sunquest charts a path in the Sunshine State

US vendor Sunquest caused a few raised eyebrows this week when it was revealed that the Tucson firm had played a blinder and won the hotly contested tender for a new laboratory information system to replace Auslab for Pathology Queensland, the bill for which the Bananabenders estimate will cost a minimum of $50 million but is budgeted for up to the century mark.

While an established name in global LIS circles, from what we gather Sunquest has not had an installation in Australia before. The win follows the entry of fellow US firm SCC Soft Computer into the local market last year, with its $42 million contract to replace the Ultra system used by Pathwest in WA.

There's a bad app for that

By far the most popular story on Pulse+IT this week was our report on a presentation by Semantic Consulting's Tim Blake at HIC last month on the guide to health apps he and his team have developed for Primary Health Tasmania, the TasVegas PHN.

Mr Blake and his team have put thousands of hours of work into curating the guide, which includes detail and reviews on a couple of hundred apps. While a searchable directory of health apps is a great resource, it can also be used by GPs to prescribe useful apps for patients, with the 'script' emailed with a single click and a note added to the medical record.

What lies between the balance sheets

It's reporting season for publicly listed companies in Australia and perusing the balance sheets always throws up some interesting stuff, like Telstra Health's $77 million write-down of goodwill on a couple of it assets and Primary Health Care's huge $587 million impairment from its medical centre business.

We don't often follow the fortunes of private hospital operator Healthscope but we had a look this week and discovered that just as it has exited the Australian pathology market, it has now removed itself from medical centres too, selling its 43 standalone practices to Singaporean outfit Fullerton Health. It still has its toe in the New Zealand pathology market through its ownership of Southern Community Laboratories though, with its new Wellington lab fully automated and digitised and pretty close to 100 per cent of pathology orders and results through this lab now electronic.

Paper, paper everywhere, still swimming in the ink

It was no surprise that the most popular story this week on Pulse+IT was our report on a workshop on secure messaging held at the HIC conference in Brisbane, where it was revealed that the National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) needed a major overhaul if it was ever going to be of any use to anyone.

Developing a useable authentication system has been a bottomless pit from which little has emerged in the decade or so that we've been covering it. As we wrote back in 2010, NASH has been an integral part of the eHealth agenda since NEHTA's inception in 2005, but where once outsourcing sounded good it quickly turned terminal, and even though the Department of Human Services came to the rescue in the PCEHR days, NASH has caused trouble ever since.

Heading to HIC as eHealth strategy emerges

It didn't come as much of a surprise to learn late on Friday that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council had given the go-ahead to the new national digital health strategy. After all, it was revealed just recently that the state and territory health departments were all pretty keen on it and had recommended that everyone at COAG say aye as well.

What has come as a surprise is that the strategy is actually pretty good. We were dreading the usual high falutin' but meaningless verbiage that usually infests these documents but while the strategy is a bit too long, it is at the same time succinct, and more importantly it is written in plain English so even nincompoops like us can understand it.

Bad press from a doze of anaesthetists

Pulse+IT spent a couple of days at the annual HIC conference this week, basking in the glorious sunshine that BrisVegas likes to shower on its lucky inhabitants even in winter. It was nice to see all of the big EMR vendors there and they were all very nice to us, even those whose reputations we were busy tarnishing with some of our reporting in the last few weeks.

Cerner was in the news through a combination of our stories on the disquiet in Queensland over the planned new anaesthesia module and there was also a nice anecdote that ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey told at HIC about how he unexpectedly ended up in hospital in Sydney recently and was able to observe first-hand the frustration and rage felt by some clinicians when dealing with electronic systems.

Hennessy gazumps Hunt on prescription monitoring

Pulse+IT was indulging in a session of Olympic-class eye rolling on Friday after we received a bunch of tweets telling us that Greg Hunt was boasting his government was going to solve the long-term problem of accidental prescription drug overdoses by funding the roll-out of a national real-time prescription monitoring scheme to the tune of $16 million.

We've covered this topic at length for many years now and were there the last time this scheme was announced, which was back in 2012 and by a different health minister in a different government and costing $8m at the time. (This of course followed $5m being allocated two years before that, in the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.) It's the same old story though: here's a problem we know about, here's one way we can help solve it, let's do very little for five years and then – ta-da! – here's $16 million and a nice press release. All sorted.

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