App heralds official launch of health services directory
A free smartphone app to access the National Health Services Directory (NHSD) has been launched by the federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek.
The app is suitable for both iPhone and Android devices and will enable consumers to enter a location into the directory to search for local health services such as GPs, emergency departments and pharmacies, with a Google map accompanying the search.
The $4.9 million NHSD went live in July and has been developed by the National Health Call Centre Network (NHCCN) with funding from COAG as a shared infrastructure project to provide one directory for consumers and healthcare providers looking for a wide range of health services.
It is hoped it will eventually also serve as a directory for endpoint location services for secure messaging and as a national directory for telehealth providers.
It is just now being promoted to consumers as it has taken time to include as much information about primary healthcare services as possible. The NHCCN has been working with Medicare Locals to add basic information such as location, contact information and opening hours offered by GPs and pharmacists as well as hospitals and their emergency departments.
NHCCN CIO Anton Donker told Pulse+IT recently that the plan was to add details for mental healthcare services, allied healthcare providers and state health services and to allow healthcare providers to update their own contact information, as well as other kinds of practical detail such as whether they are able to see new patients or if parking was available.
While there is an important consumer element to the NHSD, it is also hoped that state health departments will use it for better resources planning and to allow healthcare providers to quickly find and refer to allied health practitioners like dietitians and podiatrists or social services such as Meals on Wheels, Professor Donker said.
In a statement, Ms Plibersek said the directory contained some 14,000 service records, which have been checked for accuracy by Medicare Locals.
“This directory will be expanded over the next 12 months to include more detailed information and cover more types of health services, such as allied health providers,” Ms Plibersek said.
Information such as languages spoken, whether they bulk bill, whether new patients are accepted and referral criteria will also be included.
Professor Donker said the national directory has been based on the successful Victorian Human Services Directory (HSD), created and maintained on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health by Database Consultants Australia (DCA).
The plan is that when the system is fully complete, it will enable links to other services such as the Healthcare Identifiers Service and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to ensure details are as up to date as possible.
There are also plans to use it as a national directory of endpoint location services (ELS) for electronic messaging. The Victorian HSD already has this capability for users of the Argus secure messaging service.
Another logical step would be to create one national network of telehealth providers, including end points and related service information. Professor Donker said the NHCCN was working with the various telehealth groups to achieve this.
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