ACT My eHealth portal to target chronic care

The ACT's My eHealth portal, launched recently by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, is part of a plan to provide consumers with improved interactions with the ACT Government Health Directorate and will provide secure online access to appointment information, appointment notifications and referral renewal reminders as well as discharge summaries.

The My eHealth trial is a clinician-initiated consumer portal initially being offered to consumers taking part in the Directorate's chronic care program. It is anticipated that consumers using the portal will also be able to access their national PCEHR through it, should they choose to register for one.

Renee Schofield, project manager for the My eHealth portal with the E-Health and Clinical Records Branch of the ACT Government Health Directorate, said the portal has been planned for some time and is something consumers have been asking for.

“It is around consumer interaction with Canberra Hospital and Health Services, including appointment details, episode information, appointment notifications, referral renewal reminders – information that's not going to be in the PCEHR,” Ms Schofield said.

The Health Directorate has worked closely with the ACT's main consumer health advocacy group, the Health Care Consumers' Association of the ACT (HCCA). Currently, 14 HCCA representatives are piloting the program, in addition to patients from the chronic care program. At present, 22 patients are taking part, with plans for a total of 40 in the pilot stage.

Electronic discharge summaries are the first clinical documents viewable within the portal. Canberra Hospital has had electronic discharge summary capability for some years, using HealthLink as the secure messaging service to send discharge summaries to GPs.

Up until this point however, patients have only received a paper copy of the discharge summary. Ms Schofield said the discharge summaries can be viewed through My eHealth as PDFs.

The Directorate signed a contract in January with Orion Health to build the consumer portal, having worked with the company to build its clinical portal, which is used by clinicians to view summary information. Orion and HealthLink also worked with the Canberra Hospital back in 2009 to provide electronic discharge summaries and an eReferral service between GPs and specialists.

Online access to discharge summaries was something consumers had been asking for, Ms Schofield said. “They often say that they lose their (paper) discharge summary. With My eHealth, patients can also access past and future appointment details, including hospital visits plus community-based services and outpatient visits.”

She said the chronic care program was primarily chosen because it would be of particular benefit to that group of patients. Consumers managed by the chronic care program have regular contact with the eight clinicians in the team, making it a meaningful service to pilot with, she said.

Participating in My eHealth is a clinician-initiated process. “The clinician clicks on an invite button within the clinical portal, which initiates the registration process for patients wishing to participate. The clinician confirms the patient’s date of birth, name and patient demographic information; enters the consumer's email address; and the system sends an email to the consumer to complete the process.

“It's similar to signing up for internet banking. The consumer confirms their name and date of birth and then chooses their user name and password and secret questions.

“While the pilot is currently limited to a very specific cohort of patients, in future My eHealth will be rolled out to the rest of the Directorate's clinicians so they can register patients who wish to participate.”

The Health Directorate’s plan is to integrate with the PCEHR through the clinical portal, with discharge summaries sent straight up to the PCEHR from the portal's discharge summary module.

“Our intention is that from within My eHealth, consumers will be able to click on a button and link through to their national PCEHR in a seamless way. It won't be information sharing between the consumer portal and the PCEHR because that's not the purpose, but they'll be able to see their PCEHR through their local portal as well.”

Ms Schofield said the pilot is going well in its early stages, and there are plans to add more functionality as it progresses.

“The consumer can update their demographic information and that's something that the consumers really wanted and is proving to be one of the most interesting aspects. We've only given them the ability to update their name, address and phone number but what they want to do is update their next of kin details and add in more information, so we'll have to see how we can offer that.

“A lot of chronic care is around shared management plans, so we are in the process of designing and implementing an electronic record to our community teams. As soon as some of the community teams are using an electronic record, we can start investigating having the consumers management plans and care plans viewable through the My eHealth portal.”

She said the Health Directorate is looking at rolling My eHealth out to additional services and other areas within chronic care over the coming months. “We'll expand the pilot to add in different consumer groups and with feedback from the consumers continue to improve the portal,” she said. “It will be an evolving project.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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