NEHTA announces members of aged care software vendor panel

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has announced the successful companies who will take part in the aged care software vendors panel to work on the implementation of specifications to link the aged care sector to the PCEHR.

The vendors include some of the market leaders in aged and community care software, including Autumncare, Database Consultants Australia (DCA), iCare, Leecare Solutions and the WA-based nursing service Silver Chain, which has developed the ComCare software under its subsidiary EOS Technologies.

NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming said in a statement that the organisation had executed contracts with all of these vendors.

He said the vendor panel would provide software solutions to aged care providers, including those operating residential aged care facilities and community care services, with the primary objective of driving uptake of the PCEHR.

Through the panel, NEHTA will work collaboratively with vendors, the Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC), and other stakeholders on the changes that vendors will need to make to their products to meet the requirements for PCEHR implementation, he said.

Caroline Lee, CEO of Leecare Solutions, said the panel members will be developing capability to access the HI Service and link to the PCEHR so that clients can download and upload clinical information through event summaries, discharge summaries, transfer documents and shared health summaries.

“We will also be passing on lessons learned and key information to other vendors who are not part of the process so they can also include this functionality, with support,” Dr Lee said.

She said the panel will not have many different requirements to the GP software vendors panel as all members will be required to link to the Healthcare Identifier Service and access and upload documents from the PCEHR so that the data present on an individual’s site is useful.

“The more programs that access and upload to the PCEHR, the more relevant information will be available for health practitioners to refer to when making key clinical decisions,” she said.

A NEHTA spokesperson said panel was “another step forward to ensuring aged care providers have the right information, software and tools to take advantage of the opportunities eHealth and the launch of the PCEHR will provide”.

Vendors will reconfigure their software to allow a number of new functions, including integration with the Healthcare Identifiers Service, the ability to connect to the PCEHR and view patient health records stored on the PCEHR.

They will also be able to generate shared health summary and event summary clinical documents and submit them to the PCEHR, the spokesperson said, along with the ability to “send and receive clinical documents on a point-to-point basis (e.g. between an aged care facility and a hospital) using a standardised secure messaging technology (SMD).”

Both Leecare Solutions and iCare have already integrated HI Service functionality into their software. Dr Lee said her company had been working on the building blocks of integration with the PCEHR since last year.

“We have been working on this since late last year since aged care was announced as a contender and will be ready by 30 June as will others. There are still components that need to be set up in the service before any of us can access information from it – and when these are ready, there hopefully will be a flood of vendors providing and receiving information.”

NEHTA will provide funding and support to vendor panel members to assist them in implementing the required changes in their software products.

ACAA CEO Rod Young said that in addition to work on the PCEHR, several of the vendors would help develop a roadmap for future IT deployments in aged care under the Pathfinder project, which ACAA is managing.

The project will also identify the ways in which aged care providers benefit from integrating with the PCEHR and understand what business process changes will be required to maximise the benefits of PCEHR integration, Mr Young said.

Leecare Solutions is one of three vendors working on Pathfinder, the others being ComCare and Autumncare, which will work with aged care and retirement living provider RSL LifeCare on the project. "[Pathfinder] is aimed at determining systems and processes for the industry so that providers can be supported to understand and implement this vital initiative in each of their services, learning from the pioneer organisations who will be trialling this connectivity," Dr Lee said.

She said the three Pathfinder vendors had this week spent two days meeting with the Department of Health and Ageing, the chair of the ACIITC, Suri Ramanathan, a team from independent information management consultancy Doll Martin, and representatives from technology consultancy firm Accenture, which is leading the National Infrastructure Partner consortium building the PCEHR, to strategise the rollout of the Pathfinder project.

“The thinking behind and lessons learned from these two days and the commensurate months of work that will be involved in supporting the three Pathfinder organisations through this journey will be invaluable to ensure the eHealth agenda is successful. Aged care is confident it can be one of the success stories in this PCEHR journey.”

She said the aged care sector had some issues that could be addressed if information was quickly available from the PCEHR, such as access to key information for any new admissions to residential aged care facilities.

“Often a person will arrive with limited information that makes it difficult to immediately put in place strategies to support them. They may arrive with limited medical diagnoses or current medication information or details re existing clinical issues that need constant attention.

“Also, when transferring residents to hospital or receiving them when discharged, it is vital that timely information arrives with them and it is envisaged that in time, these processes will improve and we will be able to obtain that information directly from the PCEHR.

“Some of our low care residents visit doctors outside the service and don’t return with information regarding their ongoing care needs as determined during their consultation, hence accessing information that a GP may upload will make it much easier for the clinical staff to continue to provide relevant care.”

AutumnCare managing director Stuart Hope said in a statement that it was “great” that the company was seen as capable of delivering the required functionality.

“The time frames negotiated are very achievable and we will be working with some of our key clients to ensure the required functionality is what is needed in aged care and also accommodates the aged care processes,” he said. “We will be incorporating the eHealth functionality into our standard product releases over the next twelve months.”

Mr Hope also said it provided an opportunity to “plug some of the gaps” in the events defined to date. AutumnCare will be taking the lead role in defining an “Aged Care Transfer” event to ensure all the necessary information is available when a resident or community client is moved into an acute setting.

“This has been a particular concern of ours for some time and it is great we can finally get some traction on this,” he said.

Posted in Aged Care

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