MyHR: now for something completely different

Most of Pulse+IT's readers don't need to be reminded that the My Health Record has come in for some pretty harsh criticism over the last seven years, quite a bit of it emanating from us. In that time there has been a lot to criticise but it's also fair to say there are loads of true believers out there who have held firm, hoping even in the chilliest times that the system would heat up and get some things sorted.

Over those seven years there has been the odd good news story about the system in action rather than theory, some coming from actual users rather than spruikers. Patient advocate Harry Iles-Mann makes a compelling case for using the system, and there are several reports of clinicians finding something useful on the various medicines documents, for example. The Australian Journal of Pharmacy had a little story on how the MyHR proved worthy during the Townsville floods earlier this year. We'd argue that after seven years you'd bloody well hope so but nonetheless, there are good news stories filtering through.

This week on Pulse+IT's Facebook chat site there were a number of compelling stories told from the field, kicked off by a post by Train IT Medical's Katrina Otto. She reported on her partner's experience of being referred to a Sydney hospital by his GP for pneumonia. He was discharged with what Katrina calls a fabulously well-written discharge summary by the senior medical officer that was uploaded to the My Health Record, which her partner accessed via the Healthi app on an iPad.

Better yet, the hospital community clinical nurse specialist who visited the next day was able to not only read the discharge summary on her laptop but was also able to enter her observations directly into the hospital's EMR while onsite in Katrina's kitchen. Katrina also mentioned another case of a doctor who was able to get some important information about a non-verbal patient from their My Health Record.

That inspired a few other stories, including one from an emergency room clinician who was able to see a test result on a patient's My Health Record after hours, meaning the patient could be prepared for admission sooner. Another story involved a patient who had a test, the results of which were added to a shared health summary. That information proved useful when the patient was unexpectedly taken to hospital, where she was able to be observed and discharged rather than kept overnight and given unnecessary tests. The discharge summary was on her My Health Record when she saw her GP the next day.

While the plural of anecdote is not data, these stories are important to tell as use of the system grows and it becomes more than just a handy aide-memoire for patients. We'd be interested in hearing more of them, along with any less positive experiences if they are out there. Twenty-two million people have a record now so let's see if it's getting a work-out.

Also this week, the Australian Digital Health Agency announced it was asking for expressions of interest from vendors of clinical information systems for the specialist medical market. Specialists have always been thought to be a potential stumbling block for wider digitisation of the healthcare system, from their distinct lack of interest in My Health Record to their legendary love of letterheads and the fax machine.

We spoke to ADHA's chief operating officer Bettina McMahon about the offer this week and she explained that while hooking up specialists to the MyHR was important, the offer was quite a bit different than that. For this market, ADHA wants to do some co-design with up to 10 vendors to try to find a value proposition for specialists to invest in clinical information systems in the first place, which a lot of them still don't use. There will also be a slightly different proposition on offer for the vendors, who will be able to keep the IP from the design work and license it back to the Commonwealth. We'll have more on that story next week.

In the meantime, things have been pretty quiet on the health IT front in the lead up to Australia's federal election and we don't expect it to change until it's all over. So while we don't like to get political at Pulse+IT, we thought we'd gauge your thoughts on the outcome.

Our poll question this week is: Who do you think will be better for digital health? The ALP, the Liberal National Coalition, or is there no difference between the two?

Sign up to our weekend edition or Pulse+IT Chat to vote, or leave your thoughts below.

Last week we asked: Do you support the merger of HISA and ACHI? Most of our readers give the merger a big thumbs up: 88 per cent to 12 per cent who oppose.

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