Letter to the editor: eHealth – where we are now

I have just returned from the AMIA scientific meeting with great enthusiasm as to how health professionals can use e-health solutions to improve care provision to patients. Each day since returning I have been looking for opportunities in my own workplace to complete the e-health puzzle.

Today I was reminded just how far we are from completing the puzzle but we must persist as technology can help.

My 15-year-old son is away with friends, approximately five hours from home. Unfortunately he experienced a recurrence of an allergic dermatitis and so he called me for advice. I was able to confirm the diagnosis by an image he was able to capture on his smartphone and send to me via MMS. This was so easy. All I needed to do now was to organise topical steroid medication from a local pharmacy.

As he is a 15-year-old male, he did not really take much notice where the campsite was, but being quite savvy, he used the location point on Google Maps to give me the closest town. Perfect! Once I had a postcode I looked up the BetterHealth website (such a valuable resource) and found that there was no pharmacy where he was staying, but I had 6 pharmacies in the neighbouring towns with contact details and opening hours.

Fortunately one of the adults staying with my son was in one of those towns and so I contacted the pharmacy that he was standing next to. Yes the medication I needed was in stock so I was asked to fax the script. Having got rid of my fax in 1995, I negotiated scanning the script and the Medicare Card and sending them by email. No problem, all sent, and I even organised to pay for the medication over the phone.

At the end of the phone call, and feeling quite proud of the whole process, I was reminded to send the original script by mail. Not sure why but I dusted off the box of envelopes, looked up the Australia Post website to find out how much a stamp costs, and will travel to the post office on Monday to send the script.

We have a lot of simple things already to help us but there are still simple things that are yet to be resolved.

Dr Mark Santamaria is an emergency physician from Melbourne.

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