Advance care directives to be stored on PCEHR
The government is moving ahead with plans to store advance care directives on the PCEHR, with Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek announcing that an additional $10 million had been allocated to developing the capability.
The funding is in addition to the amount already allocated as part of the $325 million Tasmanian Health Assistance Package announced last June, which was used to assist the Tasmanian government and the Cradle Coast eHealth site to develop an advance care directive repository.
In March this year, the first assistant secretary for eHealth change and adoption with the Department of Health and Ageing's eHealth division, Linda Powell, told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra that as part of the Tasmanian package, “there are a number of elements that we will be working on, which will include making advance care plans available through the shared electronic health record”.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said the government "will build on this work to roll out advance care directives on the PCEHR nationally, including to enable a national advance care planning template to be incorporated into the PCEHR, so that directives can be uploaded to the PCEHR system in a consistent format".
Ms Plibersek announced the initiative at the 4th International Society of Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care Conference in Melbourne, where she also announced the government was providing an additional $800,000 over two years for the evidence-based Respecting Patient Choices advance care planning project led by Bill Silvester, president of the society and an intensive care specialist at Austin Health.
Ms Plibersek said storing advance care directives on the PCEHR would ensure all Australians could have control over their end-of-life care.
“Because it’s online, the advance care plan will be easily available,” Ms Plibersek said. “For example, if an elderly man from the Gold Coast is admitted to a hospital while visiting his family in Melbourne, his treating doctors and nurses would have access to information about his end of life care wishes.
“That could include information about any treatments he does or does not want under particular circumstances.”
The Cradle Coast eHealth site has been developing the advance care directive capability since 2011 as part of the Wave 2 projects for the implementation of the PCEHR. It has worked with a number of residential aged care facilities and with Alcidion, which has developed the repository.
NEHTA has been separately funded to develop a national specification for advance care planning and for vendor support to encourage upgrades of aged care and GP desktop software to create and receive advance care directives and upload them to the PCEHR-linked repository.
Associate Professor Silvester said in a statement that he welcomed the addition of advance care directives to Australia’s eHealth record system.
“By putting advance care directives online, it guarantees the patient is at the centre of their health care,” he said. “For example, if a patient is admitted to hospital, doctors will be able to quickly see exact details of their wishes for end-of-life care.
“It ensures that the patient stays front and centre and maintains control of what will be happening to them when they can no longer speak for themselves.”
Posted in Australian eHealth