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Blog: Still in the dark about MediSecure hack as light shines elsewhere

24 May 2024
By Kate McDonald
Image: iStock

It was another big week in digital health this week, with the fallout from the MediSecure ransomware attack still reverberating, some clarity on the big bucks doled out for aged care in the Australian budget last week provided, and – if you’ll indulge us – some yuge news from Pulse+IT to go with our recent podcast announcement.

On MediSecure, there has been no official update since last Saturday when MediSecure said the hack was limited to the patient’s personal information normally printed on scripts along with the medication name and dosage and the prescriber’s details. A cybersecurity website reported today that someone on a Russian hacking forum is claiming it has the data for sale, but who knows if there is any veracity to the claim. $US50,000 ain’t much.

The National Cyber Security Coordinator and her team at the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre have also been quiet. The Department of Home Affairs likes to release its news on social media, which while welcome in its transparency is also fraught with danger considering the moon units that infest some of these platforms, particularly Facebook and the septic tank formerly known as Twitter. The silence has done nothing but juice the rumour mill, unfortunately.

In better news, a bit more light has been shone on the $1.4 billion allocated for aged care IT systems in last week’s federal budget. Pretty much all of it is going towards building and modernising aged care systems used for payments, reporting on nurse minutes and quality indicators, and all of the other burdensome tasks that swamp both government and providers. Fay Flevaras and her team from DoHAC’s aged care transformation division have done some fantastic work on this and are building some excellent platforms, which do not come cheap, but there’s no doubt that aged care providers were expecting a little moolah to come their way. They will have to be patient.

There was also some interesting news from New Zealand, where the venerable yet aged GP2GP electronic medical record transfer system seems to be on its last legs. This system was first set up in 2011 in what was then an unusually collaborative arrangement between the GP PMS vendors and secure messaging service HealthLink to allow medical records to be transferred electronically when a patient moved practice.

Australia had high hopes at one stage of having a similar system but fax and photocopies still reign supreme here. More modern technologies are probably overtaking the likes of GP2GP these days, which Health NZ and the local GP industry group both seem to agree with. They are now working on a plan for the future.

And in other big news, Pulse+IT today launched a brand new Irish edition of our digital health news service, coincidentally just as the Irish government released its long-awaited digital health strategy. We’ve been eyeing off the Irish market for several years now but got serious this year, and good timing it is too considering the massive amount of new initiatives Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE) and eHealth Ireland are putting into the digital agenda. It’s all happening there, and you can read about it if you’re one of our 20,000+ eNews subscribers when the first edition lobs into your inbox today.

We’ve reported on the launch of the Digital Health Framework for Ireland (2024-2030) – which you can download here – and which we highly recommend you have a read of. It is driven by six focus areas and lays out a strong, detailed vision of what Ireland’s vision for an integrated, national digital health ecosystem looks like. How to get there will be detailed in a roadmap to be released shortly that will include much more detail on individual initiatives, some of which are already underway, including a national shared care record system, national clinical systems, virtual wards, embedded healthcare identifiers, standards development and interoperability, a patient app, and integration of the primary and secondary healthcare sectors and social care.

Sound familiar? It certainly does have a lot in common with Australia’s digital health strategy and we think both are pretty good. For Ireland, though, it is a question of funding and the extra level vision it needs as part of the EU. We’ll be reporting on the wider context for Irish digital health, such as the European Health Data Space (EHDS), as well as home-grown initiatives. It’s an exciting time.

We’ll be sending out our Irish edition to all subscribers for the next few weeks, weeks, and we think it will add a global scope to our stable of Australian, New Zealand, aged care and weekend newsletters. You can opt in or out of receiving it through the ‘Update your subscription preferences section’ at the bottom of each eNewsletter. We hope you enjoy it.

That brings us to our poll question for the week:

Has the response to the MediSecure attack been transparent enough?

Vote here, and let us know what you think, good or bad, below.

Last week, we asked: were you satisfied with the federal budget’s health and aged care IT priorities?

Not really, our readers said: about two-thirds (63%) said nope.

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