Aged care needs to be real in the My Health deal
The news this week that ACIVA, the group representing IT vendors servicing the aged care industry, has agreed to merge with the more established group covering medical software vendors, the MSIA, was welcome for a number of reasons, not just because there will now be a unified voice representing the makers and marketers of digital health solutions for all sectors of the healthcare industry.
It also hopefully means that the reality of what 'aged care' actually is and the IT support it needs will be better understood as it gets a larger seat at the eHealth table. While for many the concept of aged care centres around older people living in nursing homes, aged care has long been and will increasingly be delivered in the community, with the numbers of elderly people remaining at home continuing to grow and residential aged care restricted to the very old, the very frail and the very cognitively impaired.
Aged care providers are also increasingly expanding their services, offering a bundle of residential care, retirement living, respite care, community and home care to the aged, but often also to those living with disabilities. The consumer-directed care philosophy now means that government support follows the person rather than the provider, with CDC and the NDIS fundamentally revolutionising the care sector.
The software providers who specialise in residential aged and community care have had to adapt to the new way of doing things – or in many cases lead those changes – but as always, aged care tends to be the forgotten child of the wider industry when it comes to things like eHealth. There are some who believe that it should in fact be the first port of call.
This includes the early iterations of the My Health Record. There are many who still believe the PCEHR would have had a bit more success had it been rolled out to aged care rather than general practice first, encompassing those who do need a shared care record rather than the vast swathes of healthy people in the general community who don't. We also still think a transfer document would be invaluable on the record for those moving from residential aged care to hospital and back again.
However, aged care is still rarely mentioned when digital health initiatives are discussed, and Pulse+IT is as guilty as everyone else of forgetting about the sector. For instance, we asked in last week's poll if mobile apps will spark consumer interest in the My Health Record, and we got a good response, with 70 per cent saying yes and 30 per cent saying no.
A comment from a reader pulled us up, however. As Sujay Kentlyn wrote, “The most under-represented group of consumers at the moment where the MyHR is concerned are people over 65 - only 15% of those registered. I don't think apps will be crucial for them. I'd be interested to hear what others think would spark their interest.”
So would we. Polling can't do this topic justice and the opt-out model might make it redundant anyway, but here's this week's question: should all Australians have a My Health Record created for them automatically when they turn 65?