Happy democracy sausage day

Half of Australia will probably be at their polling stations chomping on a democracy sausage and voting early and often when this missive lands in your inbox, but amid all the excitement and the scent of a sausage sizzle, there's still time for our round-up of the week that was in digital health.

Earlier in the week, we had a chat with emergency department specialist Naren Gunja, who also happens to the chief medical information officer for the Western Sydney Local Health District, home to Westmead, Blacktown, Mt Druitt, Auburn and Cumberland hospitals.

Like the rest of NSW these hospitals are undergoing a massive digital transformation, and just last week Westmead went live with new and updated clinical systems from Cerner including electronic medications management, electronic fluids ordering, the latest EMR update and the latest version of FirstNet, the ED system. Cerner's SurgiNet operating theatres and anaesthetics solution has also gone live.

Western Sydney had already done some groundwork a couple of years ago with what it called the Paper-Lite implementation, pioneered at Blacktown Mt Druitt, which saw a foundational Cerner EMR rolled out. However, all meds and fluids ordering was still done on paper until Auburn Hospital took the lead for the LHD six months ago with its Digital Health Clinical Program. Blacktown followed suit earlier this year.

When we spoke to him, Dr Gunja seemed pretty upbeat about the implementation. Like Pulse+IT he can boast that he's been around the traps a bit and he well remembers the first attempt at rolling out Cerner a decade ago. That project ran into quite a few difficulties and still has a pretty poor reputation, but while Dr Gunja in no way claims the current implementation went without a hitch, it does seem to have gone smoothly enough.

This, he puts down to the project being led by clinicians. In the past it was IT doing the dictating, but now it's more a matter of clinicians doing the asking and telling. The NSW government has stumped up half a billion dollars to digitise its hospitals, so it's great to hear it's being put to good use.

In other news, we heard from MediRecords, the Sydney-based upstart looking to pluck the early cloud adopters in general practice away from the big PMS vendors. You might remember that MediRecords won a contract last year to replace the old practiX system from iSoft in a dozen Queensland hospital and health services, where it was used to do the billing for senior Queensland Health doctors who also see private patients. All of the HHSs involved are now using the billing functionality and some are also using the MediRecords clinical module too.

We also heard from Zedmed, which has launched a free app allowing its users to check their appointments and patient histories and see results on their phones and tablets. And we heard from ADHA, which as we wrote last week is keen to get specialists more digitally literate. ADHA is also currently working on potentially adding a new medications document to the My Health Record for people with chronic diseases who are juggling multiple medications. We'll have more on that next week.

By the time many of you are reading this Australia is likely to have a new government, although we reckon it's doubtful we'll see any major change in digital health policy either way. Labor made a lot of noise about halting the My Health Record expansion last year but we don't expect it will do anything but tinker around the system's edges should Labor form the new government as expected.

Our readers might agree. Last week, our poll question asked which party you thought would be better for digital health. While the ALP scored 27 per cent and the Coalition 16 per cent, more than half (57 per cent) say there will be no difference at all.

That brings us to our poll question for the week: do you think there will be major changes in digital health policy in the coming year?

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

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