PCEHR five goes live as PHN tenders released

Release five of the PCEHR has gone live, featuring two new capabilities in the clinical documents section to view diagnostic imaging and pathology reports.

As expected, the government's preferred model that pathology and DI reports will be automatically loaded after seven days has gone ahead, with a notice to consumers informing them that reports will be viewable in seven days from the date that the pathologist or diagnostic imaging provider has loaded the report.

However, actual reports will not be able to be uploaded through pathology and diagnostic imaging software until early next year.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health (DoH) said the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) was working with pathology and diagnostic imaging services so reports can be posted directly to the PCEHR, along with software vendors.

“Software vendors will be able to upgrade their provider information systems when specifications are complete, which is planned for early 2015,” the spokeswoman said.

“Following consultation with the sector, NEHTA has developed draft specifications that will enable provider information systems to send a PDF pathology and diagnostic imaging report to the PCEHR. NEHTA is currently working with software vendors and providers on the software conformance requirements.”

The PCEHR release five also features a new notification in the health record overview (HRO) that shows whether details of a consumer's advance care directive custodian are available or not. The indigenous status of the consumer is also highlighted.

The DoH spokeswoman said that in addition to this new functionality for consumers, the HRO that clinicians can already see through the provider portal is also now available for inclusion in clinical information systems (CISs).

The HRO provides access to information on a single page, including to shared health summaries, indigenous status, a flag for advance care directive custodian information, key documents such as discharge and event summaries uploaded in the last 12 months, clinical synopsis descriptions from event summaries, and links to several areas within the record, including the prescription and dispense view and pathology and diagnostic imaging views, the spokesperson said.

The Department of Health has also released an invitation to apply for funding to become one of 30 Primary Health Networks (PHNs), which are replacing Medicare Locals from July 1 next year.

The four selection criteria are:

  • business model, corporate structure and governance (20 per cent) – one element of which is the composition of clinical councils and community advisory committees
  • GP and stakeholder engagement and healthcare system improvement (40 per cent) – requiring a demonstrated capacity and strategies to ensure broad GP engagement, along with local hospital networks and primary healthcare groups
  • population health planning and purchasing/commissioning (20 per cent) – requiring demonstrated strategies and capacity to undertake population health planning and provide frontline health and medical services if required
  • service continuity and capacity to implement (20 per cent) – requiring the ability to be operational by July next year.

Applications must be submitted by January 27, 2015, with the successful applicants notified “as soon as possible” to allow a minimum transition period of three months before the PHNs become operational.

Applicants can apply for more than one PHN, although most organisations that have announced they are intending to bid are consortia of former Medicare Locals.

The department has outlined indicative funding for each PHN. Most are likely to receive between $3 million and $5 million in operational funding per annum, with flexible funding ranging from $1m to $3m per annum for smaller territories. Factors such as population, rurality and socio-economic status have been taken into account for flexible funding; for example, Western NSW ($10m), Country SA ($12m) and Country WA ($11m).

The total amount of operational and flexible funding that will be provided to PHNs is up to $842 million over three years from 2015-16.

The provision of after-hours GP services is not part of the tender.

In its guidelines, the Department of Health says it will continue to provide national infrastructure to support the PHNs to operate efficiently, including the provision of the National Health Services Directory (NHSD), clinical pathways and primary health maps, eReferral systems and PCEHR integration.

National infrastructure may also include PHN websites with centralised content, a reporting dashboard and in-built capability from the NHSD, video consulting, symptom checkers and clinically governed health information.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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