Victoria’s bumpy path to a digital health roadmap

Pulse+IT was a keen attendee at this week’s Health Information Management Association of Australia’s (HIMAA) annual conference, which naturally in this pandemic era was held virtually. It was pretty good too, and revealed quite a lot of information about Victoria’s digital health roadmap, which was launched back in August but got little if any coverage due to the pandemic itself.

The roadmap is in no way a grand, sweeping vision like others purport to be but is instead built around existing projects – most of which have been precipitated by Stephen Duckett’s Targeting Zero review of hospital safety and quality assurance from 2016 and the more recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – and turns out to be a pragmatic, practical strategy that takes into account the decentralised nature of the state’s health service.

It delicately sidesteps the problems from the past with the centralisation v devolution problems that have plagued Victoria’s health IT journey, avoiding any mention of the very problematic HealthSmart program.

Victoria’s principal eHealth advisor Bronwyn Taylor, who is also looking after the digitisation of the state’s public pathology services, gave a very interesting insight into what she hopes to achieve through a statewide health information exchange (HIE) for pathology, followed by a wider roll-out to develop what one of our commenters described as a My Health Record for Victoria.

A tender for this HIE will be released next month, which will precede what we expect to be an announcement in the very near future from eHealth NSW about its single digital patient record (SDPR). We got a tip this had already been awarded to Cerner this week but we are assured it hasn’t. That tender is worth $141 million.

We also heard at the HIMAA conference from chief digital officer Neville Board, who outlined some interesting milestones, including that three-quarters of public health services have now implemented the universal patient identifier (UPI), and the majority now have an EMR. That 40 per cent don’t have an EMR still a big issue.

The HIE roll out will be very interesting. It has received a lot of negative attention from privacy people (who are notably silent on NSW’s SDPR), so we look forward to seeing the details next month. The big shake-up in pathology IT is also going to be intriguing.

Elsewhere this week, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) released an industry offer to improve My Health Record integrations with aged care software vendors, including the creation of a transfer of care document and some interesting ideas for medications management and secure messaging in aged care.

Pulse+IT has been banging on about the need for improvement to the My Health Record for aged care for years so it is absolutely terrific to see the agency make definitive moves in this much neglected sector. While much has been driven by certain recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality, it is still good to see that the agency is finally taking aged care seriously, as we believe this an area where information sharing can have huge benefits.

We had a chat this week to two of the agency’s subject matter experts on what the industry offer entails, and we were pleased to hear that it goes far beyond just MyHR integrations. It can’t come soon enough – just last week, we heard that one PHN in Queensland is going ahead with a trial of old-fashioned, paper-based Yellow Envelope transfer of care document. Surely we can do better.

Finally this week, HL7 International released a statement clarifying in bold that the report by cybersecurity expert Alissa Knight into how easy it is to hack third-party apps using FHIR APIs did not mean that the APIs or the standard itself were vulnerable. HL7 has managed to get Ms Knight to amend her headline, and in the meantime is setting up an implementation program to ensure quality implementations using the standard.

Our most popular stories this week were about Victoria’s digital health roadmap, so we thought we’d ask what you reckon about it in our poll.

Is Victoria’s digital health roadmap a good one?

Vote here or leave your comments below.

Last week, we asked: should all healthcare organisations offer online bookings? Most agreed: 71 per cent said yes, 29 per cent said no. We also asked an optional question of whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Here’s what you thought.


0 # Kate McDonald 2021-11-05 13:00
Last week we asked: Is Victoria’s digital health roadmap a good one? Yes, most people said. It got top marks from 85 per cent of respondents.

We also asked for your thoughts.

- It's not funded.

- Covers all bases

- It shows some positive committment

- The roadmap has a maturity model to measure progress and guide investment. Too many digital strategies announce good ideas but don't track and measure progress.

- It’s realistic

- Victoria does not have any state-wide solution, hence a data sharing platform that is patient centric will help the state while each hospital continue to procure their individual solutions to cater to their needs and budget. The key is not just being able to share the data but making it also meaningful and actionable.

- it will provide a broader view for Clinicians than MHR

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