Physiotherapists gear up for eHealth

Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local (IEMML) recently launched a pilot project to support 20 physiotherapy practices to trial electronic clinical software and other eHealth functionality.

Working in partnership with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), the trial forms part of IEMML’s new eHealth-focused engagement with the allied health sector.

“We’re working with two key groups: those with electronic clinical notation systems used during consultations, and those with paper-based or similar set-ups," Sarah Lausberg, IEMML's allied health eHealth liaison officer, said.

“Our goal is to have the first group introduce eHealth systems such as secure messaging and online imaging while the second group will trial the use of clinical note-taking software during their patient consultations.”

Cindy Higgins, manager of the APA's Victorian branch, said eHealth is becoming increasingly important in delivery of quality healthcare.

“This project recognises the fundamental role physiotherapists play in primary healthcare, rehabilitation and community wellness and will establish new corridors for communication utilising the latest technology,” she said.

Introducing electronic note-taking during consultations represents a significant investment for practices and many allied health practitioners are understandably hesitant to make the change, Ms Lausberg said.

“We know that moving to an electronic system is a big change for many practices so we’ve arranged a software vendor demonstration session … to introduce a range of software options.

“We’ll also use the opportunity to provide participating physiotherapists with information about the national eHealth record system as well as support for them to register.”

The involvement of practices with more advanced practice set-ups has meant that IEMML has been able to facilitate an active online peer support network for participants. One of those practices is Camberwell’s Back in Motion, whose physiotherapists have been using and benefitting from electronic systems for some time.

“Moving to an automated, electronic system has had a range of efficiency benefits for our practice,” physiotherapist and practice director Adrian Quinn said.

“We now have easy access to client information from any computer, writing letters to GPs is much quicker thanks to auto-population of fields, and we can now far more easily communicate with particular subgroups of patients, whether by mail or by email.

“We even have our task lists and messages for staff stored in the electronic diary so there’s no longer a risk of losing them.”

With IEMML’s background as a lead implementation site for the eHealth record system and its commitment to supporting a multidisciplinary approach to health delivery, ongoing work with the allied health community and expansion of this program to other disciplines will continue to be a focus for the organisation.

Philipp Herrmann works in eHealth communications for Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local.

Posted in Allied Health

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