Hopes for secure messaging interoperability meet reality
Pulse+IT celebrated its 15th anniversary just a few months ago and while we don’t like to reflect too much on the damage those long years have wreaked upon our good looks, modest charms and superior intellect, it would be remiss of us not to mention some of the dashed promises and forlorn hopes that have accompanied our journey.
Our first issue was printed in August 2006, featuring a glamorous photo of a Canon camera and a rather unpleasant skin cancer to illustrate a story on digital clinical photography, along with the wise words of our first ever covergirl, then health minister the Hon Mr Tony Abbott.
Dr Tony Lembke wrote about the powers of Google, NEHTA CEO Dr Ian Reinecke expounded upon the new organisation’s virtues, and we even had one of the first columns in the world on the powerhouse that has since become podcasting.
Secure messaging wasn’t mentioned as such, but the first issue did have a column on a new intelligent messaging provider called 2Hippo. We can’t say that ever took off in healthcare, but the issue of interoperable secure messaging has been one we have covered day in, day out, at length and ad nauseam, for many long and tedious years since.
This week, the South Australian government announced it had begun the roll-out of the nationally agreed, industry-led, much-debated standards for interoperable secure messaging through the statewide system built by HealthLink that will initially be used to send out discharge summaries from public hospitals to GPs, regardless of what secure messaging vendor they use. (It will also replace SA’s ancient pathology results notification system, but more about that next week.)
The SA project has been put forward by Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) CEO Amanda Cattermole as proof that at least one of the seven pillars of the National Digital Health Strategy has been achieved. The plan is that it will be extended to other clinical document exchanges such as eReferrals and specialist letters.
Goodness but we hope so. We’ve been covering this topic for close on 15 years and it continues to live down to expectations in failing at every turn. Each step forwards with secure messaging seems to come with two steps back. New Zealand sorted this problem out a long time ago but Australia continues to flail about trying to solve a problem that newer technologies will probably render increasingly redundant.
Also this week, we heard from Telstra Health managing director Mary Foley on her plans for the company. Professor Foley hopes for some pretty decent revenue in four years’ time to make up for the vast sums paid for some of its assets and the losses it has accumulated trying to run them to date. The purchase of PowerHealth Solutions ($95 million) makes up a large part of the company’s future predictions, but one still wonders why she paid so much for MedicalDirector ($350m), which does not.
One of our most popular stories this week was ACT Health’s use of its new digital health record technology to care for people with mild COVID-19 symptoms at home. Despite the Australian government’s very fuzzy $180 million fund for caring for these people at home by GPs, it seems jurisdictional and regional health services are still expected to come to the party. We’ll have more on that next week.
That brings us to our poll question for this week. Last week, we asked: Should the $180m community COVID package have been spent on telehealth and remote monitoring instead? The vast majority agreed: 92 per cent said yes, just eight per cent voted no. We got an exceptionally good response in our comments.
This week, we ask:
Is interoperability between different secure messaging products worth pursuing?
Vote here or leave your comments below.