Clinical content is king
The My Health Record was back in the news bigly this week as the Digital Health Agency announced that three community pharmacy software vendors had connected to the system, joining frontrunners Fred IT and Simple Retail, which both managed the feat way back in May 2013.
With 1404 out of the estimated 5500 pharmacies in Australia currently registered with the system as of November 5, that number is likely to increase substantially. Symbion's Minfos, for example, boasts about 800 pharmacies as customers, and with the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society now behind the My Health Record, we expect many of the others will sign up soon enough.
We also hear that one of the major players in hospital pharmacy software, Pharmhos, which markets the Merlin system, has connected and is sending up dispense records from the public sector in the Northern Territory. We'll have a bit more on that for you next week, along with some news from Fred about the roll-out of its MedView technology, which should solve some long-standing problems with medicines reconciliation between primary and acute care.
Good medicines data is one of big selling points of the My Health Record and where it can have the most immediate effect, although we still think the PBS data on the system should be dumped. This is where errors have crept in before and are likely to cause a big problem in future as opt-out nears.
Pulse+IT heard all about this at the Medical Software Industry Association's annual summit in Melbourne this week, where ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey provided an update on progress towards opt-out. Mr Kelsey was pretty upbeat and says he expects much more content to be going up soon, including from private pathology providers, another area that is touted as a game-changer for clinical use of the system.
He also said a campaign would get underway soon to ensure healthcare professionals were all aware of the My Health Record, followed by a big communications exercise to let the general public know what's happening. We've said it before and we'll stick to our guns when we say a whole lot of drama and bad press could have been avoided a long time ago if only the federal government had put an ad on the telly telling people that what was then known as the PCEHR existed.
We are firm in our belief that the reason uptake was so low to begin with and has never proved popular – it's five million registered now, after five years of operation – was not because of privacy concerns or lack of functionality or disinterest but basic lack of awareness. You can't sign up to something you've never heard of and we still regularly run into people who haven't a clue that it exists. That's health professionals as well as patients, so it's no wonder it never really took off.
We look back rather fondly at those awkward early days, when strange people in orange T-shirts were sent out to monster patients arriving at hospital and sign them up to the system. There was the NEHTA bus and the coffee cups and squeegee balls and the pedometers and the seven or so bus shelter ads that made up what should be studied at university as one of the worst marketing exercises in public service history.
Whether the My Health Record will ever really get a result is still up for debate, but for those still pining for the thing to fall over, rest assured it's not going to happen, at least in the near future. The brief, unlamented ministerial reign of Peter Dutton was the last chance for it to be canned and it's not going to happen now. Current minister Greg Hunt is a big fan, as is his opposite number Catherine King, the PCEHR being a Labor idea in the first place. Greens leader Richard Di Natale, a GP, is also on the record as being a firm supporter and all the state and territory health departments are too.
Mr Hunt wasn't able to make it to the MSIA summit in person so he sent along a videotaped address, which was played during morning tea. Pulse+IT was the only one in the room dutifully watching, and all we can say is that Greg's pretty keen, keen that the system works and that now that its failings can no longer be blamed solely on Labor, the poor roll-out doesn't embarrass the government any further. That's what the NBN's for.
That brings us to our poll question for this week: Do you think busy retail pharmacists will bother checking their patients' MyHR?
To vote in this poll sign up for our weekend edition or leave your comments below.
Our poll last week asked: Can CRM software can be used effectively in healthcare? Readers are pretty upbeat on CRM: 75 per cent said yes, 25 per cent no.