The federal government on Monday announced it will invest AU$7.5 million for research into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. "Artificial intelligence will be critical in transforming the future of healthcare through improved preventive, diagnostic, and treatment approaches," a statement from acting Minister for Health Anne Ruston said. The new funding will be dispensed via grants to researchers through the Medical Research Future Fund. The government hopes the cash will be used to fully understand the potential benefits of AI in healthcare. "AI for better health, aged care, and disability services was recently identified as one of the top three areas where Australia is well positioned to transform existing industries and build new ones, including opportunities to export solutions worldwide," Ruston's statement continued.
The Australian government has surpassed 6 million downloads of its COVIDSafe coronavirus contact tracing mobile application. Despite reports last week the app was not really being used by state and territory contact tracers, a statement from Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said COVIDSafe has helped public health officials automate and improve manual contact tracing of the coronavirus and that it is proving to be a valuable tool. From cancelled conferences to disrupted supply chains, not a corner of the global economy is immune to the spread of COVID-19. "In Victoria, a person who had not been identified through the normal processes, was notified as being a close contact by the app. That person is now in quarantine, protecting the community from a further potential spread of the virus," the statement said.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), the system administrator for My Health Record, has touted an increase in use of the online medical file in the past few months. "We've seen a significant increase in the use of My Health Record by both consumers and healthcare providers, particularly over the last three months," interim CEO Bettina McMahon told the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit on Tuesday. "In relation to general practitioners, the month of March has seen the highest amount of viewing of documents yet, as well as uploads to track use." Providing further statistics, McMahon said the ADHA witnessed around a threefold increase in viewings of documents by general practitioners. "Around 20,000 documents are viewed each month," she added.
During the 2015-16 financial year, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) received 16 mandatory data breach notifications, which recorded 94 separate breaches. According to the Annual report of the Australian Information Commissioner's activities in relation to digital health 2015-16 published on Thursday by Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, the 94 separate breaches affected a total of 103 healthcare recipients, 98 of whom had a My Health Record at the time of breach. In his report [PDF], Pilgrim said the OAIC received three data breach notifications from the system operator, with the first of the notifications relating to MyGov accounts held by healthcare recipients being incorrectly linked to the My Health Records of other healthcare recipients. The second and third notifications related to unauthorised My Health Record access by a third party, the report says. The report says the remaining eight notifications involved 86 separate breaches in which Medicare claims data was uploaded to incorrect digital health records.
Then you've got the federated data platform, which is basically controlled aggregation to create gold standard data by using multiple autonomous origin data sources," he said. Making the switch has since enabled the organisation to succeed in its data improvement strategy. "We can look at things like who was the exact source who came up with this change. We can even trace it back to the raw source it originated from, or even trace it back to an external identifier, like a source-based JIRA ticket number, for example," Paul said. In addition, the new system can capture "exceptions", which are used to help fix the data, and provide "warnings" to improve data quality, according to Paul. "We also use this for end-to-end data flow visibility, so we know exactly what's happening to our data … for example, over the last couple of months we have captured more than 25 million issues that can be traced back to specific sources," he said.