Pulse+IT Blog

Hopes high for GP2GP-style record exchange

Pulse+IT headed to HISA's Health Informatics Conference in Melbourne this week, as we are wont to do, and what a smashing event it turned out to be. The focus at HIC is often on the acute care sector and, naturally, health informatics, and there was certainly plenty of that, but we were very pleased with the depth of presentations from primary care and even aged care this year.

We were also delighted to see the former chair of the RACGP's eHealth expert committee, Nathan Pinskier, pick up HISA's prestigious Jon Hilton award. Dr Pinskier, who does a huge amount of voluntary work in the background lobbying for standards and quality in health IT, joins luminaries such as Grahame Grieve, Adam McLeod, Mike Georgeff and Terry Hannan in winning the award.

Consumer watchdog bares its teeth

We must admit that yesterday's announcement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that it had launched legal action against health IT firm HealthEngine was a bit of a surprise, coming as it does over a year after the online booking service was thoroughly roasted in the media for its decision to edit or delete patient reviews of practices on its site.

The main surprise was with the consumer watchdog showing a bit of bite when we thought it was due a new set of dentures. However, the ACCC recently wrapped up an inquiry into digital platforms and is keen to see consent and notification requirements under the Privacy Act strengthened, and HealthEngine may just have found itself a case study.

GPs get the pip with QI

It has been years in the making and has suffered several unexpected delays, but the Department of Health's bright and shiny new general practice quality improvement incentive (PIP QI) arrived this week, and was promptly met with a chorus of disapproval from GPs.

The PIP, which replaces a handful of others and requires general practices to send quarterly reports to their primary health network (PHN) on the proportion of patients with 10 different clinical indicators, is worth the not insubstantial sum of up to $50,000 a year to practices.

Deflate expectations

There was interesting anecdote in one of the public submissions to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into the operation and management of Sydney's Northern Beaches Hospital, a selection of which can be found here and which include a mixture of criticism of the hospital, praise for the hospital, a bit of 'insular peninsula' whinging, and the odd suspect wearing a tinfoil hat.

One patient, who had nothing but praise for the medical and nursing staff even while recounting how one of them had allegedly punctured her artery, mentioned in passing that she had expected, now that the My Health Record was available to her, that her medical record would therefore be available to her clinicians.

eOrders the trigger for My Health Record

This week saw a major move forward for eHealth in Australia with the news that Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will now be routinely uploading pathology reports to the My Health Record for patients whose doctors request tests electronically.

It's not just the addition of information of real worth to patients and their record that is the breakthrough. There is also the potential spur it might give to the wider use of electronic ordering of diagnostic tests in general. While eOrders aren't new – SNP's CEO Michael Harrison told us that about 80 per cent of orders coming from GPs these days are now done electronically – it will hopefully influence specialists, who tend to order more complex tests but who also tend to use their computers to write a request and then print it out, to also send them electronically.

Radiologists recommend the PES approach

Our top story this week on Pulse+IT was about the submission by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) to the Australian Digital Health Agency's (ADHA) current consultation on its interoperability roadmap.

While the submission concerned the Australian policy climate, there are some very interesting ideas within it that have relevance for both the Australian and New Zealand healthcare systems and deserve serious thought.

How to measure meaningful use

It was a big week this week for the announcement of new digital health projects and updates on existing ones, and it got us to thinking about whether we can adequately measure the success or otherwise of this troublesome endeavour that is digital health.

A case in point was one of our top stories this week, in which Stephen Duckett from the Eastern Melbourne PHN called for the fax to be axed by 2025. (And we'd urge caution on the use of this saying, considering the UK's problems with it.) The PHN has set itself a target of helping to get rid of faxed referrals to local hospitals in five years' time, and is helping by supporting an eReferral project in its catchment area, which has seen more than 60 per cent of eligible general practices start using smart forms technology from vendors HealthLink and BPAC Informatics.

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