NT in the News
By far the most read story this week on Pulse+IT was the sudden resignation of NT Health CIO Stephen Moo, which has come hot on the heels of the similarly unexpected exit from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services of its CIO, Andrew Saunders.
We first heard about Mr Moo's departure through an official email that was sent to us by a valuable source, but neither they nor we were prepared for the revelations in the NT News story that first broke the news on Monday.
There's little anyone can say about the matter as the case may end up in legal action, but we can say that Mr Moo oversaw a jurisdiction that in many ways led from the front in eHealth in Australia. The NT had its its own My eHealth Record, formerly known as the shared electronic health record (SEHR), which was first developed by Mr Moo's team in 2005 and aimed predominantly at the indigenous population of the NT.
While it took some years to become established, it was highly regarded not just by clinicians but by patients too, who no longer needed to repeat information multiple times and who came to expect clinicians to use it. The MeHR has now transitioned over to the national My Health Record, although it is still active to allow pathology results from the private sector to be viewed by NT clinicians.
We last spoke to Mr Moo in late July, when he told us how the NT was using its existing systems to upload public pathology to the MyHR. He was expected to oversee the huge, $259 million core clinical systems renewal project (CCSRP), which is kicking off now and which will see NT Health's public systems in acute and primary care replaced by InterSystems technology.
We suspect he had a lot to do with the excellent, incredibly thorough tender documents that were prepared for the CCSRP, and we know he also had a lot to do with the National Telehealth Connection Service, being built by Telstra Health. This is a hugely valuable piece of infrastructure so we'll see what happens in the wash up.
Our other most popular story was our follow-up on the move by Queensland Health to open up access to hospital medical records to GPs. Queensland has had a clinical portal called The Viewer up and running for quite a few years now that gives clinicians access to centrally held data such as pathology and radiology reports and also allows them to access their patients' My Health Record.
The bigwigs at Queensland Health are inordinately proud of The Viewer – although NSW Health might give them a run for their money with HealtheNet – and got the idea that it could be used to give GPs access to hospital data as well. A recommendation of the state's specialist outpatients strategy, the idea was given the go-ahead last year and legislation enacted to allow private, non-Queensland Health clinicians to use the system.
The capability went live with surprisingly little fanfare in late June in late June and now has 1000 GPs signed up, responsible for 6500 interactions in the first two months consisting of both patient record views and patient searches.
As far as we know, besides two pilot projects in Sydney, this is the only case in Australia in which GPs are given access to hospital systems. Do let us know if we're wrong. While this is a good step forward, we are way behind NZ, where GPs in the South Island can view hospital records and hospital clinicians can see GP and community pharmacy records.
The PCEHR/MyHR was supposed to allow similar sharing of information but hasn't quite got there yet, even though a milestone was reach recently. With almost 5.2 million people registered, there are now 1.1 million shared health summaries on the system. The big question is whether anyone is looking at them.
As our poll results from last week show, our readers are still a cynical lot when it comes to the touted benefits of the MyHR. Our poll last week asked: Do you think the My Health Record is finally showing clinical utility? 35% said yes, but the majority (65%) said no.
That brings us to our poll question for this week: Do you think giving GPs access to hospital medical records will improve patient care? Sign up for our weekend edition to vote or leave your comments below.