Telstra and NEHTA get it right for GPs

Telstra and NEHTA get it right for GPs

Summary: With very little fanfare, Telstra last week announced its involvement in one of the more sensible initiatives I've heard about this year.

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TOPICS: Cloud, Health, Telcos, Telstra
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With very little fanfare, Telstra last week announced its involvement in one of the more sensible initiatives I've heard about this year.

It will provide software-as-a-service medical systems via its T-Suite platform to the members of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Currently there isn't any specialist medical software on T-Suite, but Telstra, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and the college plan to work with GPs and vendors to work that out.

I know that long-time industry veteran, blogger David More, has expressed his concern about the security of the data on such a system. And cloud security has certainly received a lot of attention recently.

I rang Telstra to ask where the data for the GPs would be stored. Although the data for some of the T-Suite applications is stored elsewhere, the applications used by the GPs will be kept onshore, according to Telstra spokesperson Rod Bruem.

Considering this, and considering that Telstra probably has a better idea of how to keep data safe than your average GP's office, I think this arrangement has serious merit.

People have to stop rushing in with their paranoia cloaks on, and instead need to think logically about what will really make their data safe. Will having data saved on a computer system held together more by prayers than any technical aptitude be safer than having it stored on servers of a big company that'll actually get into a PR mess if there's a data breach?

I don't think so.

Sure, there's scope for misuse. Yes, horrid things could happen. But I don't think there's more chance for misuse than there currently is, especially given the insecure IT practices many SMBs use. (Yes, your doctor is probably an SMB. Would you entrust your medical information to your local coffee shop's IT system?)

And when I think about the IT chaos that exists in many doctors' offices, especially in regional areas, it seems obvious that taking the IT burden off doctors' hands can only be a good thing. Not only can they concentrate on doing what they do best — diagnosing illnesses and consoling the sick — but their IT costs might also go down, and with them, the cost of my next appointment.

Topics: Cloud, Health, Telcos, Telstra

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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12 comments
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  • It also renders the costly NBN, a tad superfluous.
    Vasso Massonic
  • Although I'm in support of a common database for patient information and believe that SAAS/Cloud computing can play a role, essential services such as healthcare should be designed to operate "when the lights go out", or when communications fail such as in natural disasters, etc. The author's comments about the state of IT in GP practices is a bit arrogant. I consult to many practices in Central Queensland and they take their systems seriously. I'm an IT professional, but, I suppose when it comes down to it in the "bigger" scheme of things, I will also be regarded as irrelevant.
    peter.gibbons
  • Hi Peter,

    I realise that many GPs would take IT seriously. But a lot of them get overwhelmed. I have been in the back offices of many of those. They may not have the benefit of your help.

    Suzanne Tindal, News Editors
    stindal
  • Can you please explain what this "ad" for telstra has to do with NEHTA? I have not seen or heard any public endorsement from NEHTA regarding the Telstra press release.
    Yes the RACGP is a stakholder of NEHTA's but that is about all this Telstra ad has to do with NEHTA.
    NEHTA is in no way working exclusively with Telstra on eHealth solutions. Telstra may be involved in NEHTA industry workgroups and liason but they do not have any special place that warrants the title of this article
    Coenbros
  • NEHTA will be working with the College and Telstra on standards for the software to have on T-suite.

    Suzanne Tindal
    stindal
  • Is that an official NEHTA statement? and if so will NEHTA also be endorsing other cloud solutions?
    No on both counts, this is just a blatant advertisement by Telstra dropping NEHTA's name.
    Coenbros
  • "according to Telstra spokesperson (Mr. NWAT) Rod Bruem".

    Pretty much says it all...
    RS-ef540
  • Yes thank you Vasso, head back in the sand again now...
    RS-ef540
  • You would think editorial standards would have this article removed, it is a follow up on a nothing story, on a solution that doesn't even exist, using untrue references to colllaborations that don't exist.....
    Coenbros
  • This is my blog, Coenbros, where I express my personal opinions. I have been scathing of Telstra in the past, but this particular time I was impressed.
    stindal
  • Then you should edit out any references to NEHTA from the story as NEHTA has absolutely nothing to do with what Telstra announced. It was bad enough that Telstra got away with the original press release, but journalist should be able to see byond there spin.
    BTW this is not the first time a SAAS approach has been taken to GP practices, there have been vendors in the market for a long time. The issue is most GP's are reluctant to hand out the data, not so much from a privacy concern these days but are more concerned about the QoS on a solution, afterall if it goes down and a patient comes in and they can't see their history then they place that patients safety at risk.
    Coenbros
  • I'm sure it's not the first SAAS approach. What I like about the Telstra approach is that it will put onto T-suite whichever vendor's software (most likely multiple) the RACGP elects. Which makes Telstra more of a universal delivery method than anything else. I think it simplifies things.

    As for NEHTA, it will have a role to play re standards, and Telstra has said it will work with the Authority on this. Yes, there has been some very slow moving on behalf of NEHTA, and the headline might not have been inspired in that sense, but is it incorrect that Telstra will work with NEHTA on software for GPs? No.

    Suzanne
    stindal