NEHTA outlines PCEHR roadmap for coming months

Software functionality to allow healthcare providers to begin uploading data to patient records held in the PCEHR system will be released in late August, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has revealed.

NEHTA's head of the PCEHR, Andrew Howard, told an online meeting of software vendors [12MB, WMV file] on June 27 that the consumer portal had been the organisation's priority in order to meet the federal government's commitment that every Australian could register for a PCEHR from July 1, and that had held up other aspects of the build, including fixing the glitch that slowed down vendor testing earlier this year.

Mr Howard said NEHTA had not yet made public a specific date for the launch of PCEHR-enabled clinical software as contracts were still being negotiated with Accenture, the lead National Infrastructure Partner, to agree on an exact date. The Department of Health and Ageing said at a Senate Estimates hearing in May that September was the most likely timeframe.

Mr Howard said a fix had been prepared to correct defects in NEHTA's PCEHR software developer test environment. This would allow vendors to continue testing their software's ability to connect to Medicare to access the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service.

“There is a set of defects in the software development environment that have not allowed some of the vendors to proceed through the final steps for the notice of connection (NOC),” Mr Howard said. “Our priorities have been around the production system at this point in time, but we are aware of the defects, those defects have been corrected but we just haven't had time to move the fixes into the software environment for you to complete the testing.”

He said the updates would allow vendors to continue with notice of connection testing so they would be in a position to have PCEHR-compliant software on the market for the provider release in late August. To date, 25 software vendors and three state health systems had connected to the software vendor testing environment, with three vendors having conducted formal NOC testing.

Frank Pyefinch, CEO of clinical software provider Best Practice, said it would more likely be September before PCEHR functionality would be ready to roll out to users of his software.

Dr Pyefinch said Best Practice had achieved its notice of connection for the HI Service. Paul Carr, managing director of Genie Solutions, said his company had also successfully completed its NOC for HPI-Is and HPI-Os.

A spokesperson for clinical software provider Zedmed said its software development for PCEHR connectivity was well advanced. "We are waiting on the software vendor environment to be upgraded to allow NOC and other conformance testing to be completed," the spokesperson said.

"In preparation for our PCEHR connected release, we have prepared and will shortly place on our website a series of documents summarising how practices can prepare themselves and their patients for the PCEHR, and what doctors can expect to be able to do in Zedmed to utilise the PCEHR for their patients."

Rama Kumble, chief technology officer for Medtech Global, said work on enabling connections to the PCEHR through his company's Medtech32 software was also well on its way.

Mr Howard also told the seminar that rules on conformance to allow discharge summaries to be created and loaded into the PCEHR might be relaxed to allow discharge summary functionality within the next 12 months. A state-based identifier will probably be used instead of the Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I) on the discharge summary until the use of HPI-Is becomes more widespread.

“We will still have an identifier but it will be a local identifier provided by the jurisdiction or a private hospital sending us that discharge summary for probably the first year of operation. That will it apply to the point-to-point world and to the PCEHR but it has been driven by a desire to get discharge summaries onto the PCEHR over the next 12 months, to get that information sharing happening and with jurisdictions ready to deploy that solution.”

For the consumer view of the PCEHR, a revised consolidated view – known on the PCEHR as the Health Record Overview – will also be launched in August, as will the Medicare Information view, which consolidates the consumer's MBS, PBS, organ donor registry and childhood immunisation registry information into one list.

The ability of vendors to integrate and display this information in their clinical software is slated for December. However, individual documents will be able to be displayed shortly, with specifications to be released in mid-July, subject to final testing of the PCEHR's interface with Medicare.

Mr Howard confirmed that IBM, which is building the National Authentication Service for Healthcare (NASH), had not met its contractual commitment to deliver the solution by June 26.

“[NEHTA is] in negotiations with IBM around a firm commitment from them, on a plan for a final delivery date for NASH,” Mr Howard said. “In the interim DoHA is working with Medicare Australia on a gateway compliance certificate which encompasses the NASH requirements for HPI-Is and HPI-Os for both individuals and organisations for the use of connectivity with the PCEHR.

“NASH isn't there but we do have a solution for vendors that will be in place for the August release. A number of vendors have tested that solution for us, so with respect to secure connectivity to the PCEHR we are still on schedule for delivery in August as well.”

He said information for consumers and providers was being prepared to guide them through the process of accessing the PCEHR online. NEHTA has also prepared an implementation guide, one that is being used in the lead sites for GP use and one for software vendors.

In response to Pulse+IT's questions about the achievements and ongoing functions of the Wave 1 and Wave 2 pilot projects and their interaction with the national PCEHR infrastructure, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing supplied the following statement:

All eHealth sites have achieved a great deal in preparing for the eHealth record system, and we will continue to work with the sites to transition to the national system over time.

More than 105,000 consumers have signed up to participate in their local eHealth systems across all sites and, as planned, arrangements are being finalised to transition these people across to the national eHealth record system.

Importantly, more than 2 million Individual Health Identifiers have been matched against patient information within the general practices’ clinical systems across the eHealth sites, which is vital to provide for the importing of patient’s information into their eHealth record when they register.

To date, some 887 general practices and 197 pharmacies across eHealth site catchment areas have attained their Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O), which is a precursor for them operating within the national system.

More than 3,400 GPs and approximately 4,300 medical specialists, pharmacists and registered nurses have attained Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individuals (HPI-Is) so they are ready to participate in the eHealth record system.

Each eHealth site has contributed to the wider development of the Australian Government’s personally controlled electronic health record system, through their experiences and what they have learnt.

In a belated response to earlier reports about the future of the Wave 1 and Wave 2 pilot projects, the Department also confirmed that the $51.8 million allocated to NEHTA to undertake transition arrangements is to be utilised across all twelve Wave projects, not solely the controversial Wave 1 site projects, undertaken by Medicare Locals in North Brisbane, East Melbourne and the Hunter region of NSW.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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