Pulse+IT Blog

Pros and cons of a single vendor exposed

It seems like just last month that we were taking a close look at the roll-out of the Cerner integrated electronic medical record (ieMR) in Queensland (and what do you know, it was) but we were still keen when a large report on the system by the state's auditor-general thumped down on our table this week, figuratively speaking.

The main headlines following the report's release were about a probable blowout in the budget for the system, estimated at $1.2 billion in total since it began in 2011 until its expected conclusion in 2025, mainly due to extra resources being required by individual HHSs. We've reported on this in the past.

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Yes minister, this hospital is full of patients

Those of us with an appetite for the absurd were served up an absolute treat this week by South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade, who confidently joined the pantheon of comic greats such as Monty Python's hospital administrator who swoons over the machine that goes ping and Yes Minister's manager of the hospital with no patients.

Mr Wade was holding forth in SA's Legislative Council this week on the topic of a turnaround plan devised to extract the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) out of a $300 million budget mire it appears to have got itself into.

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So NEHR and yet so far

Pulse+IT took a trip across the ditch this week to pay a visit to the annual Health Informatics New Zealand conference, where among a terrific line-up of speakers we were lucky enough to hear a ripping yarn from the multi-talented Will Reedy, director of digital for telco Spark NZ, emergency department doctor and independent chair of the advisory committee for New Zealand's national electronic health record (NEHR) project.

Dr Reedy was presenting on the topic of consumer-held records, and it just so happened that on one particularly busy Friday recently at the Middlemore Hospital ED in Auckland, a 60-year-old woman from Boston, Massachusetts, turned up having turned her ankle on a visit to the Cable Bay Vineyards at Waiheke.

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Unedifying spectacle sums up My Health Record debacle

The word 'debacle' certainly got a work-out in the media and on the Senate floor this week as Labor mounted a last-ditch effort to have the opt-out period for the My Health Record extended for a full year. 'Debacle' joined 'bungle' as the words du jour, although we were mightily pleased to see at least one 'shemozzle' and the old favourite 'stuff up' joining the fray.

These choice phrases were of course launched at the government over its handling of the My Health Record opt-out process, particularly as the opt-out website and helpline began to suffer under the weight of people wanting to opt out at the last minute on Wednesday. The government was forced to cave in to pressure to extend the opt-out period, as the amendments to the My Health Record Act demanded by the opposition would not pass the lower house until the opt-out period was over.

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Spotlight back on Cerner in the Sunshine State

It's a big bad bungle after a database debacle after a computer catastrophe! No, not the My Health Record – this week it's the Cerner integrated electronic medical record (ieMR) that is rolling out in Queensland that is the topic of some over-excited headlines.

While Pulse+IT had a relatively sedate story this week on the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service postponing its roll-out of the digital hospital stack until next year because clinicians aren't quite ready for it yet – a sensible move, if you ask us – over at Channel 9, things were getting a little heated.

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Crashes, cave-ins and knee-jerk reactions

This week in the eternal drama that is the My Health Record we were served up a veritable smorgasbord of beat-ups, cave-ins and knee-jerk reactions about the system that would have tested Mr Creosote's enviable staying powers.

There was a story about the whole system crashing under the weight of people rushing to opt out – we have it on good authority that it did no such thing – that was then picked up by other outlets and beaten up within an inch of its life.

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A tale of two comments

The My Health Record was back in the news this week as Department of Health and Australian Digital Health Agency officials were forced to undergo yet another gruelling bout of interrogation from the same Senate committee that put them through the wringer not six weeks ago.

Having handed down a report last Thursday recommending that the My Health Record opt-out period be suspended or extended for another year – an idea that was promptly rejected by Health Minister Greg Hunt last week – the same faces fronted up to Senate Estimates on Wednesday, with the same result. The only news was that about 240,000 more people had opted out since the last time the question was asked.

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