Professor Timestamp and the doctor

3 min read May 15, 2013 at 10:21am on Computing, Health, NBN and Rant

Before starting here, read this excellent article about NBN "analysis" from Renai LeMai over at Delimiter. I'd had a bit of a row about this article with sortius (twitter) yesterday. 

The article itself was an almost meaningless bit of fluff - someone from a pensioner's association is pro-NBN because it will improve rural health.  There's no specific mention of telehealth initiatives (video consulting / remote consultation etc etc) and the journalist has probably been a bit lazy in conflating the government's eHealth website (easily found at with the clinical telehealth services (which is probably what Mr Lawler was actually talking about).

The article specifically talks about the Patient Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) - although not by name - which is the only telehealth service that is accessible from the eHealth website. 

The PCEHR is designed to make it easier for people to be more mobile between healthcare providers;  hospitals, GPs can all upload data to a patients "e-medical record" and can then be accessed easily by all.  Patients are able to control which parts of these records are visible (hence patient-controlled).  It's all done via a web-portal and is linked to Medicare's central servers, so has access to each prescription you've been been dispensed at a pharmacy and each time you've presented your medicare card for service. 

It's not high-tech and doesn't need any fancy equipment, other than an internet connection. Its rollout has been far below expectations - the number of people signed up are in the thousands, three years into the 10-year project, and the number of healthcare providers is even less. So sortius and I had been sniping at each other;  I was commenting on what was written (ie: the description of the PCEHR but no teleconsult stuff) he was commenting on what was implied.  If you're a masochist, you can see the whole exchange here.  Such is the nature of internet flame-wars - minor differences in interpretation spiral out of control.

The argument then spun off in a different path, thanks to a tweet from @stryqx. Reproduced below:


So we were arguing at cross purposes the first time around, but here are two tweets specifically talking about the health record, which sortius quite clearly says [people aren't accessing the PCEHR] probably because they don't have a stable internet connection.

He then proceeds to have his little meltdown about me verballing him.  He then straw-mans the rest of eHealth from our previous argument as justification for me being incorrect and then when I quote his words back to him (remember, the ones I verballed him with) he says "Firstly, I said probably". 

Ahh, of course.  The irony, of course is that he wrote an excellent post - yesterday - about people complaining that the internet records things you say and can be checked on.

I'm happy to concede his point that people with poor connections are less likely to take up internet technology.  Fair enough, but the PCEHR is not all of eHealth and to bollock me for saying that (when I didn't) while denying he said something (that he did) is just infuriating.

What really annoys me about sortius' approach to this is his argument (also in his comments to my previous post here) is that if you know tele- but not -health you should be taken seriously, but if you know -health but not tele- then you are an "uneducated fuckwit".

And of course that he complains frequently that Malcolm Turnbull has blocked him for being an "anonymous troll", but that after a spray of vitriol, he blocks me on twitter.

Recognising hypocrisy in yourself takes self-awareness.  We can only hope.

(cheers to Geordie Guy for the title)