Collaboration drives increase in electronic communication

Electronic distribution of specialist letters to GPs from Southern Health Outpatients clinics has grown from zero to around 30 per cent over the past 12 months under a pilot project that has now become practice. South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local (SEMML) is inviting GPs within its catchment to join in.

In August 2011, a pilot project to facilitate the electronic delivery of letters from specialists in Southern Health Outpatients clinics to GPs and other healthcare providers was launched, with partners including Southern Health, OzeScribe, Global Health and SEMML's founding member, Dandenong Casey General Practice Association (DCGPA).

The project allows specialists’ letters, transcribed by OzeScribe medical transcription services, to be sent electronically through OzeScribe’s OzePost service. OzePost uses Global Health’s ReferralNet secure messaging system to send encrypted, HL7 messages that can be imported directly into patient records for GPs using any of the leading GP clinical information systems.

Southern Health is the largest public health service in Victoria, providing more than one million episodes of care a year and serving over 20 per cent of Victoria’s population. Since the project began, Southern Health has delivered over 40,000 outpatients letters.

Any practice that already has ReferralNet installed does not need to register for OzePost as they will be automatically receiving their outpatients letters electronically from Southern Health. There is capacity for 100 per cent of computerised practices within SEMML to receive Southern Health Outpatients letters electronically via OzePost and ReferralNet.

Like any project involving technology, a number of technical issues arose and were resolved during the project’s implementation. The process highlighted the need for all secure messaging and clinical information system software developers to collaborate on the development and implementation of uniform standards for the capturing and transfer of health information.

The future implications of the announcement of the Secure Message eXchange (SMX) agreement between HealthLink, Argus and ReferralNet is likely to see GPs increasing their use of secure messaging products to send information into other services in both the public and private sectors.

To read the full story, click here for the November 2012 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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