MMEx implementing PCEHR specs, targeting allied health

The developers of the MMEx web-based electronic health record and secure messaging service are working on implementing the specifications that will allow it to interface with the PCEHR, and are also targeting the large numbers of allied and mental health professionals that don't currently use clinical software.

MMEx, developed some five years ago by the University of Western Australia's Centre for Software Practice, is used widely in the Kimberley region for Aboriginal healthcare, but also has a number of applications in community care and for specialist services such as WA's cancer services and telehealth.

The Centre for Software Practice's director and the chief developer of MMEx, Associate Professor David Glance, said the system had recently been listed on NEHTA's ePIP register as being compliant with the Secure Message Delivery (SMD) standard, and was going through the implementation process to allow it to access the HI Service and the PCEHR.

The centre is also in discussions with eRx Script Exchange to allow it to electronically transfer prescriptions.

Dr Glance said that while the general practice market was not high on his priority list for growth, the system does have some GP clients who use it for secure messaging and were taking part in the ePIP.

“We're concentrating on implementing the NEHTA standards and being able to interface with the PCEHR when that becomes available,” Dr Glance said. “That is our plan for integration. We'll collaborate with anyone and we are not driven by my retirement plan – we are a not-for-profit and commercially self-sustaining, but we are always willing to integrate.”

The MMEx team is part of NEHTA's SMD-POD, a collaboration involving the majority of the secure messaging services vendors that is working to ensure the products are interoperable. While Dr Glance makes no bones about his scepticism about the PCEHR system and its design, he said the people from NEHTA he had been working with in the SMD-POD had been doing a good job.

In 2010, the team released an iPhone app called MMExi to allow clinicians to review follow-up actions and pathology results, and more recently released an iPad version called MMExiMax, which has further functionality to allow users to view and update progress notes, medications, results and medical histories in their MMEx accounts. Both are available from the iTunes App Store.

It is the allied health and mental health market, in which many practitioners do not regularly use clinical software due to its expense, that Dr Glance sees as a seriously under-serviced area that he would like expand into.

“Medical Director and Best Practice are not going to lose any sleep over MMEx as we are really not in that market, in the sense that the GP market is not really that interesting to us,” he said. “What is of more interest to us is the 90,000 registered allied health and mental health practitioners in Australia who don't have access to clinical systems because they are too expensive.

“We see that MMEx provides a platform for them to use. And because it has messaging and sharing built in, it allows things like a pharmacist going into a person's house to do a medication review to be able to share that information. For example, Fresenius, who do home dialysis, they can share those records with specialists in hospitals, and the locum service in WA is going to be using it so they can go into somebody's house, aged and residential care – we are active in that space. It is essentially the PCEHR as it should have been.”

MMEx is a web-based, fully functional clinical management system, but as the company is a not-for-profit it is able to offer it for a yearly licence fee of $250.

“UWA owns the IP but we have a partnership with a company called ISA Technologies, which is a consultancy and hosting company that provides the operational side of it,” he said. “We did run it from the university but now we run it from their secure facilities. At the university, we don't want to be in the business of running help desks.”

MMEx has recently been installed by several GPs in Brisbane and Ipswich, but the main concentration is on the community care sector, Dr Glance said.

“The project started about five years ago as part of some work we were doing on managed health networks, when the GP networks were being funded in WA as part of that program. Originally we focused on messaging – hence the name, Medical Exchange – but it then morphed into a clinical platform, in the first instance to replace a system used by the Aboriginal Medical Services in the Kimberley, which used paper and an electronic recall system.”

More capabilities were added and Dr Glance then signed a contract with the WA Department of Health for a variety of functions, he said. “We have for example a telehealth wounds management system, a cancer system – all of WA's cancer patients are in MMEx – and a range of other functions. We run WA Health's telehealth services, a hearing screening system that is used by Telethon Speech and Hearing, and we do retinal screening over MMEx with the Lions Eye Institute.”

The system is also used by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Brisbane, Medicare Locals are using it for the Care Coordination and Supplementary Services Program, and it is also being used as a clinical system in some detention centres.

“It is a very research-led product,” he said. “Being at a university, we collaborate with a whole range of academics and research organisations, so a lot of the work we are putting in is to propose a model of healthcare which is proactive and not reactive, and essentially is evidence based.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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