Don't get coy after gov's data snafu, say startups

Don't get coy after gov's data snafu, say startups

Lorica Health CEO says open data champions in government shouldn't falter following Department of Health dataset fumble

Champions of open data within government have turned “coy” following the Department of Health’s data privacy snafu last month, says the CEO of healthcare data analytics firm, Lorica Health.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner is currently investigating claims made by Melbourne University researchers that doctor and other service provider ID numbers could be extracted from datasets released by the department on

“This has made some of the people that have been driving an open data agenda somewhat coy,” said Paul Nicolarakis from Lorica Health. “And it’s live now so we’re not sure where it’s heading.”

Lorica Health – which supplies solutions for the detection of fraud, abuse and errors in health claims data and for comparing clinician performance – was pitching for talent at a Tech23 start-up event in Sydney today.

“I think what we’d like to see as entrepreneurs is that we’re brought to the table to help government do these things,” said Nicolarakis. “They’re not trivial – even when you think you’re anonymising provider identifiers in Medicare datasets, it turns out you’re not. We think we can contribute to the success of these experiments. So bring us in.”

Some 1 billion lines of historical health data relating to around 3 million Australians were released by the Department of Health in August. It was withdrawn weeks later following the University of Melbourne report.

The department said it is “undertaking a full, independent audit of the process of compiling, reviewing and publishing this data and this dataset will only be restored when concerns about its potential vulnerabilities are resolved.”

Open data shift

Lorica Health – which works with 30 of Australia’s 34 private health insurers – pitched in the ‘Smarter Data’ category alongside people movement mapper and analysis engine Black AI and data collection, analytics and workflow platform, Gruntify.

Legislation and caution around open data was causing concern for them too, they said.

Gruntify CEO Jamie Leach said the company took legal advice on a case by case basis regarding the data capture intrinsic to their offering.

“The main area that concerns us is who actually owns and controls the data at the back end?” she said. “Is there any potential liability to us should anybody raise an issue against the technology even if it’s in the hands of one of our customers?”

Black AI CEO Keaton Okkonen said his company was currently focusing on the aged care sector, and that the company’s future success required data to be more open and available.

“I’m counting on a few shifts to take place. Medical data for example you can’t keep outside of Australia if it’s Australian medical data. And if we’re operating in the residential aged care space you could class that as medical data,” he said.

“More generally, you’ve got a lot of data owners that are opening their data to everyone. You’ve got a lot of massive datasets that are being made available to the public to freely use, so I think were transitioning as a society in the way see data and our relationship with data.”

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