ADHA makes a move on re-platforming MyHR

In late news this week we hear that the Australian Digital Health Agency hopes to approach the market in the next few weeks through a request for information (RFI) process about the potential to “re-platform” the national digital health infrastructure, including the My Health Record.

This move has been mooted for a few years now and was confirmed by ADHA's CIO Ronan O'Connor in a chat with Pulse+IT last year. The MyHR has been built on a clinical document architecture that while novel in 2011 – and ADHA says is still fit for purpose now – is quickly being overtaken by newer, shinier technologies.

The contract with national infrastructure operator (NIO) Accenture runs out in 2020 and as foreshadowed in last year's story, now is the time to get started on seriously looking at how the system can be put on a firmer basis for the future. The RFI will no doubt have much more detail but we understand that ADHA is very keen to receive some constructive ideas.

ADHA was also in the news this week with an update on its offer to the health software industry for assistance with reconfiguring clinical systems to handle secure messaging interoperability. 42 companies have taken up the offer covering 56 different products, in addition to the vendors that worked on the proof-of-concept trials to develop the new capabilities.

We'll have an update on what this means in practice next week when we talk to one of the vendors involved, but even now some providers are able to send messages to others using different systems. ADHA's offer requires that the 42 vendors have their systems reconfigured by May next year, so after years of waffle, we can soon safely say that secure messaging interoperability is here. We think.

Also this week we hear some interesting news from Western Australia on two fronts. One is its much anticipated urgent care network trial that is using technology – Healthdirect Australia's National Health Services Directory and online appointment booking systems like HotDoc and HealthEngine – to underpin a network of general practices that will operate as urgent care clinics to hopefully take some pressure off hospital emergency departments.

This is not a hugely sophisticated venture and is just using existing technology and general practice capability but in more clever ways. The key to it all is marketing, and thankfully the WA government has put its money where its election promises were and is funding an extensive advertising campaign. The trial will last for 18 months, and as Healthdirect tells us, if successful can be easily used as a model for other jurisdictions.

WA is also handling the tender for a new national data storage and analytics solution that will be used to host primary care data such as that collected in the PIP QI. Due for go-live at the end of next year, it may put to rest some of the worries that GPs have raised about the safety of data being sent from general practice to PHNs. Given the lack of trust that some GP groups have voiced about PHNs, though, we won't hold our breath.

Finally this week we heard from Apple, which is rolling out some new versions of its Apple Watch with added health and fitness apps. The real story here is not so much the Watch, which is a dinky little device but not yet a game-changer for healthcare, but the power of Apple's reach when it comes to the research projects it's taking part in with some seriously big medical research institutes.

Following its heart study with Stanford University, Apple is now working with the US National Institutes for Health, Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the World Health Organisation on three new studies using the Apple Watch and iPhone apps. The power of consumer electronics for medical research is simply extraordinary and is only beginning to be explored.

And it's not just Apple getting in on the action. This week, a not-for-profit consortium was announced that will bring to Android devices what Apple Health has done on iOS to allow Android users to access their electronic medical records through FHIR APIs.

This Android app is set to launch next year and we hope will soon expand beyond the US and become available elsewhere, but even in the US there is still a lot of legislative uncertainty over what it all means. This New York Times article summarises most of the issues quite well. We were pleased to see that while the headline was a touch sensationalist and the usual arguments were made about privacy fears, the article included a bit of common sense from US national coordinator for health information technology Don Rucker.

Dr Rucker is quoted as saying that patients have a right to choose whether they use a third-party app to access and store their medical data “as opposed to the right being denied them by the forces of paternalism”. We agree.

In our blog last week, we mentioned that the Pinnacle Midlands PHO had struggled a bit with the roll-out of the new Indici practice management system, which has been designed for the cloud and for the Health Care Home model. Pinnacle informs us that far from struggling, Indici is now live in 76 sites in the region, which is pretty impressive. Indici is also currently being rolled out in Wellington.

Also last week, we ran a poll asking your views on whether ACT Health's proposed “big bang” approach to its new digital health record was the right one for the health service. The majority of respondents said yes; 58 per cent to 42.

In this week's poll we ask: if you could curate your medical record on your phone, would you?

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

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