Victoria has moved along at a rapid pace in releasing a tender this week for its planned health information exchange (HIE), the first step towards streamlining access to medical records across the public hospital system. As locals like to argue incessantly, Victoria’s devolved public health system has positives and negatives, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown up that disparate information systems and services can be a drag on a unified pandemic response.
As such, earlier this year the Crisis Council of Cabinet agreed to a plan to consolidate pathology services across Victoria, including the different laboratory information systems (LIS) that are used in the state, of which we are aware of at least four, all in various instances that do not speak to others. NSW is in a similar situation, and it is looking to consolidate its LIS systems through the NSW Single Digital Patient Record (SDPR), the successful vendor for which is due to be announced shortly.
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.
We must admit that we are still scratching our heads at Australian health minister Greg Hunt’s recent announcement of a new $180 million package to support COVID-19 care in the community in the future. There are some interesting bits, such as the subsidy for pulse oximeters for positive patients to use at home, and a small amount of money for medical deputising services and district nurses to visit COVID patients at home.
But putting aside the fact that there is simply no excess workforce capacity for nurses to visit people at home, let alone GPs – medical deputising services may be in a different boat – nor can we find a compelling reason behind the announcement that GPs will be paid an extra $25 to see COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive patients face to face, in addition to existing MBS items.