Could discharge summaries be the carrot for GP views of the MyHR?
One of the more interesting stats in a presentation chock full of them given by Nepean Blue Mountains PHN's Donna Sedgman at Pen Computer Systems' PHN conference in Sydney last week was that GPs in her catchment were three times more likely to be able to see a patient's discharge summary on the My Health Record (MyHR) than they were to receive it by secure messaging.
While the vast majority of GPs surely would prefer that they receive it by the latter route, in the absence of that happening reliably the MyHR does provide an alternative, not the least because those hospitals that are linked to the system – and there are quite a lot of them now, including the subject of one of our most popular stories this week, Royal Children's Hospital – are sending discharge summaries up for those patients who have a record.
It seems that so far, GPs have been hit with very large sticks – the ePIP being the most powerfully wielded – but have not been offered many carrots at all to encourage them to use the system. And few actually are, or were: Ms Sedgman's stats show that at the start of the trial only 10 out of the 116 computerised practices in the PHN had an up-to-date NASH certificate, one of the so-called eHealth building blocks that NEHTA proudly proclaimed were in place prior to the organisation's transition to the ADHA.
Nepean Blue Mountains was one of the two PHNs chosen for the opt-out trial, with two other areas trialling assisted registration methods under the current opt-in system. It seems inevitable now that the government will go ahead with opt-out – all the Minister for Health needs to do is invoke a rule – and this is likely to be funded in the 2018-19 budget.
Whether clinicians actually ever find it of use is the big question. Consumers probably will – and we must remember that the PC in PCEHR or My in My Health Record are there for a reason – but another of Ms Sedgman's interesting stats was that ED clinicians were very resistant to using the system.
That comes as no surprise as ED doctors have long said they simply need a meds list, a problems list and an allergy list, but beyond that checking records takes too much time and often just gets in the way.
Would ED doctors look at the MyHR if there was an up-to-date, easy to view medicines list, with allergies warnings, a problem list and perhaps a link to a recent x-ray? They are certainly not going to wade through years of old pathology reports, but if there was actually something potentially useful on the system, would they bother to have a look?
So too with GPs. Is the fact that 600,000 discharge summaries have now been uploaded, and in some cases are more accessible than by traditional routes of secure messaging or even fax, the carrot that this much flogged horse needs?