Skip to content

About Me

Mike Avatar

I would describe myself as a curious person. I think curiosity is a key ingrediant to my success over 30+ years in the Pathology industry. There is an over-abundance of complexity in Pathology. If you look at what is classed as Pathology in Australia, even one discipline is at least as complex as any other business you can name. Banking? Well…try and make sense of Australian Medicare rules for billing. Airport loses you suitcase on a regular basis? For Pathology labs…any specimen loss can cause a different kind of a suit case, and worse, adverse patient outcomes. Training a Pathology Informatician takes a long time. If you begin as a laboratory scientist and have experience on the bench but have a technical bent, this is a great start to your career in Pathology Informatics. This is not to say you can’t come from the other direction as a technical IT person, however that journey is a lot harder, as the domain can be difficult to understand without having worked in it. Much of the ability of Pathology labs to react to changes in regulatory requirements, new tests, billing and instrumentation requires someone who can talk to the IT folk about firewalls, network switches, integration, SQL, Business Intelligence, as well as having great troubleshooting skills. Pathology information systems are necessarily complex and often very flexible in configuration. This can be a burdon as well as a blessing. There is always a large technical debt associated with a lot of custom configuration and scripting. This complexity makes Pathology IT systems very difficult to replace. Witness the labs that have tried and either failed, or spent a fortune and a ridiculous amount of time doing it. Updating IT systems in Pathology is not for the faint hearted, so having experienced Pathology Informaticians on hand is a necessity. How do you become a Pathology Informatician? Have the right skill set and ask questions…the more curious you are, the more you learn and the more capable you will be coping with the complexity and hence the more successful and comfortable in the role.

Career Highlights

Scientist at QML Pathology

After completing a B.App.Sci (Medical Laboratory Science) at QIT (now QUT) in 1987 , I began a job as a Relieving Scientist at QML Pathology in Brisbane Qld. While training in many disciplines at QML’s West End laboratory, I completed my Grad. Dip. (Computer Science) at QUT. I spent 8 years as a country reliever at QML before settling down to work at QML’s Springwood (Logan) laboratory in 1996.

Programmer/Lead Software Developer at QML Pathology

In 1999, a developer position became available at QML West End. I learnt off the best. My mentors were Kevin Walker (a self taught genius who designed and wrote most of the previous Concurrent based system in Assembly language and Fortran), Bruce Harper (a guru in the C language as well as being the in-house Unify database expert ) and John Herron (father of the PIT standard and HL7 standards expert/committee member). At QML, I built on my skills in Unix and Linux scripting and programming. Shell and Perl became my go-to languages to get stuff done. When Kevin was promoted to IT Operations Manager in 2003, I became the Development lead at QML. In the Information Systems Department (ISD) I was involved in lab system upgrades, system configuration of test panels, HL7, worklists, web development in php and javascript, interfaces to analysers and data retrieval and reporting. I was also heavily involved in system integration with the other Primary Health Ltd sites using HL7 version 2.x messaging.

Senior Application Specialist - Mater Digital Technology and Information Division

As a Senior Appliction Specialist I helped to maintain Pathology Informations Systems for Mater Pathology as well as looking after RIS/PACS, Medical Devices and other systems. In 2021 I began to help Mater Pathology implement the Ultra LIS, which I spent 15 years or so using, and later, developing at QML. 3 Years down the track that project is still not live.

Senior Research Technician - CSIRO AEHRC

In August 2023, I left Mater after 14 years to work on a large National project - Sparked, the Australian FHIR accelerator run by CSIRO AEHRC. Mater was a good place to work, but I couldn’t knock back the chance to work on this once in a liftetime project. Progressing Health System Interoperability has been my life for 25 years - it finally feels like we have some good momentum in Australia.

Digital Health Experience