Useful and Interesting Health IT Links from the Last Week – 04/01/2009.

Again, in the last week, I have come across a few reports and news items which are worth passing on.

First – welcome back and Happy New Year!

These include first:

Why is Health IT so hard?

Every now and again someone decides that health IT is obviously doing something wrong and they are going to fix it. This is a familiar call, often made by well meaning bureaucracy and its part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Health IT is hard and its become much harder with the involvement of well meaning bureaucracy. They often regard (and even refer to!) health it people as a bunch of “nerds”. If only there were more nerds and less bureaucracy we may be further ahead. Yes it is possible for the banks to have ATM machines working in a global sense and interoperating but they are only adding and subtracting figures from a balance and tolerate a fair bit of fraud as part of the cost. I am sure it all we wanted to do was maintain long term records of patients blood pressure and have this interoperate, with low levels of security it could be done quite easily. If we did this for the same transaction fees as the banks charge for ATM transfers there would also be a funding model!

The full blog article is here:

This is well worth a read from a real expert and a clinician. He explains clearly just why even the basics are hard and why NEHTA has a way to go to achieve mastery of its domain.

Second we have:

UK doctors could be reviewed on the Net

December 31, 2008 - 2:06PM

British patients could soon rate their doctors by posting reviews on an official health service website, Health Minister Ben Bradshaw says.

By being able to read feedback from other patients, people would be better able to decide which doctor they wanted to consult, the junior minister told The Guardian newspaper.

The scheme would take its cue from the way people leave comments and ratings about books and music on internet retail sites, Bradshaw said.

Posters would be able to leave positive and negative feedback, though the site would be moderated.

However, doctors' representatives voiced concern that it would descend into a meaningless popularity contest rather than providing accurate information about medical skills.

Officials have been told to get the necessary software ready in 2009, The Guardian said.

More here:

This is not a trend I think we should follow – but it will be interesting to see how a trial goes and if such feedback can make a difference.

Third we have:

Blog Stats for End 2008

I thought it was worth posting these for the end of December


Total - 68,796

Average Per Day - 123

Average Visit Length - 2:49


Total - 110,406

Average Per Day - 212

Average Per Visit - 1.7

In December, 2008 there were 3,798 Site Visits with 6,561 Page Views

Despite the holidays, this was the busiest month ever with over 140 reader comments posted!

Fourth we have:

Snooping public servants sacked

Herald Sun

December 22, 2008 12:01am

HUNDREDS of federal public servants were sacked, demoted or fined in the past year for serious misconduct.

Investigations into more than 1000 bureaucrats uncovered bad behaviour such as theft, identity fraud, prying into private files, leaking secrets and being rude to clients in Victoria.

The most common breach was improper use of taxpayer-funded internet and email.

But investigators uncovered a wide array of offences, including two officials on overseas duty sanctioned for not behaving in a way that would uphold the good reputation of Australia.

Almost 80 public servants were sacked in 2007-08 for breaching their code of conduct, while 162 resigned while under investigation.

Fines were handed to 218 public servants, 111 were counselled, 93 took a pay cut, and 26 were shifted sideways.

About 50 were found to have made improper use of inside information or their power and authority for the benefit of themselves, family or friends.

Some of the offences were committed at social functions outside working hours.

More here:,27574,24832419-1243,00.html

Oh dear! Here we have the human nature of some being shown at its worst. Just how we can make people behave properly when handling easily accessible electronic health information remains a live issue. Certainly education, reminders, well managed surveillance and audit trails and appropriate sanctions will all play a part.

Fifth we have:

Fatal flaws in website censorship plan, says report

Asher Moses

December 23, 200

TRIALS of mandatory internet censorship will begin within days despite a secret high-level report to the Rudd Government that found the technology simply does not work, will significantly slow internet speeds and will block access to legitimate websites.

The report, commissioned by the Howard government and prepared by the Internet Industry Association, concluded that schemes to block inappropriate content such as child pornography are fundamentally flawed.

If the trials are deemed a success, the Government has earmarked $44 million to impose a compulsory "clean feed" on all internet subscribers in Australia as soon as late next year.

But the report says the filters would slow the internet - as much as 87 per cent by some measures - be easily bypassed and would not come close to capturing all of the nasty content available online. They would also struggle to distinguish between wanted and unwanted content, leading to legitimate sites being blocked. Entire user-generated content sites, such as YouTube and Wikipedia, could be censored over a single suspect posting.

This raises serious freedom of speech questions, such as who will be held accountable for blocked sites and whether the Government will be pressured to expand the blacklist to cover lawful content including pornography, gambling sites and euthanasia material.

The report, based on comprehensive interviews with many parties with a stake in the internet, was written by several independent technical experts including a University of Sydney associate professor, Bjorn Landfeldt. It was handed to the Government in February but has been kept secret.

More here:

More government secrecy because the government didn’t get the answer it wanted – and the report released just before Christmas – sound familiar?

Sixth we have

Windows 7: The Linux killer

Now Microsoft may fear Linux on the desktop as much as it does the Mac.

Preston Gralla (Computerworld (US)) 23/12/2008 08:46:00

Microsoft has long been worried about Linux competition in the server market. When it came to ordinary PCs and laptops, however, it knew it had little to fear.

But that was then. Now Microsoft may fear Linux on the desktop as much as it does the Mac. It's finally taking Linux seriously as a desktop operating system, and it has designed Windows 7 to kill it.

Let me explain.

The threat to Windows comes entirely from "netbooks" -- lightweight, inexpensive laptops that typically use Intel's low-powered Atom processor and don't come with substantial amounts of RAM or powerful graphics processors. They're designed mainly for browsing the Web, handling e-mail, writing memos, and taking care of simple word-processing or spreadsheet chores.

Netbooks will account for about a third of all PC growth this year, according to Citigroup. Shipments will rise at an annual average rate of 60% to reach 29 million netbooks in 2010, compared with 18% growth for standard notebooks, says a September BNP Paribas report.

Clearly, the future is in netbooks. And that has Microsoft worried. Netbooks can't handle Vista's hardware demands, so XP is the only Microsoft operating system that runs on them. But Linux is ideally suited for lower-powered netbooks.

More here:

I found the idea Preston puts and the forecast penetration of Netbooks fascinating. Being old fashioned I still like having my data on my computer – but it seems times are changing!

Last we have the slightly more technical note.

15 events that changed technology history

The key milestones that shaped the industry

Neil McAllister (InfoWorld) 24/12/2008 09:00:00

There are certain key points that have shaped the way technology is today. We've rounded up the 15 most important milestones and explained why they changed the course of the industry.

Technology has become what it is today thanks to key milestones that changed the direction of the industry. For example it was only during a tour of Xerox PARC that Steve Jobs was struck with the idea of Macintosh after seeing the PARC's GUI in action, but would Apple be as popular today if he hadn’t made that pilgrimage?

We've charted the 15 most important points in tech history that have already influenced the direction the industry has taken and will continue to shape its future.

Much much more here:

This is a fun summary of some major turning points. I wonder do people agree with the choices made as to the key points?

More next week.


Totally Unrelated Extra!

Rovin', rovin', rovin' - Mars explorers don't want to stop

Richard Macey

January 3, 2009

IT IS a common complaint these days: things are just not made to last any more.

But it is one gripe that does not hold water on the red planet. The warranty on NASA's two, six-wheeled Martian rovers - Spirit and Opportunity - guaranteed their survival for only 90 days on the planet's dusty surface, and promised that they would drive a mere 600 metres.

But this weekend Spirit celebrates its fifth birthday on Mars. Its identical twin, Opportunity, reaches the same milestone on January 24.

Since its landing Spirit has motored more than 7.5 kilometres, while Opportunity has clocked more than 13.6 kilometres. Together the rovers, which set down on opposite sides of Mars, have snapped about 250,000 pictures.

When Spirit opened its robotic eyes on January 4, 2004, after bouncing to a halt, it spotted a series of hills about one kilometre away. Engineers wondered whether the mechanical explorer, no bigger than a small ride-on mower, could be coaxed to reach them.

Spirit not only reached the hills, but climbed 110 metres to the summit of the highest peak, and then trundled down the other side.

The rovers have found Mars was awash with salty water 4 billion years ago but was drained bone dry by some environmental catastrophe. They have sent back movies of willy willies dancing across the Martian plains and pictures of eerie sunsets.

More here – with lots of pictures:

I just think this is amazing and is a nice uplifting story to start 2009!



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