Secure messaging services to trial interoperability

The three members of the Secure Message eXchange (SMX) consortium are planning to begin trialling their interoperable capability in pilot sites in the next few weeks.

The consortium, which includes Global Health, HealthLink and DCA, has been actively involved in testing message interoperability based on the Australian Secure Message Delivery (SMD) standard since last year.

In a statement, the SMX vendors said they were committed to supporting general practices to qualify for the eHealth Practice Incentives Program (ePIP) to exchange messages and planned to commence pilots in the coming weeks, in parallel to their ePIP activities.

“The pilots will confirm our assumptions of the operational model and cost structures of providing the service,” Mathew Cherian, CEO of ReferralNet vendor Global Health, said.

Peter Young, general manager of DCA Health, which markets the Argus secure messaging service, said that under the ePIP, general practices are required to conduct an SMD commissioning process, which includes an interoperability test, HI conformance and other requirements. If practices pass the commissioning process they qualify for the ePIP, he said.

The consortium said that in practical terms, the volume of messages that can be exchanged via the SMD standard and SMX will “take some time to build momentum and will be phased based on the payload type”.

“Sites are encourage to carefully plan the transition, which needs care and time to ensure that existing services are not compromised and misadventure for patient information does not occur,” the partners said.

The SMX partners are also taking part in NEHTA's SMD-POD project, which aims to assist vendors to demonstrate technical compliance to the NEHTA specifications to support interoperability.

However, Mr Young said the SMX was a further step along this road and provided a model for sustainable interoperability.

“The SMD-POD covers technical compliance and a demonstration of interoperability to assist with ePIP,” Mr Young said. “The SMX takes this a step further by incorporating standards for support, governance and ongoing costs of operation.

“The SMX builds on SMD by providing a sustainable, quality service. All members of the SMX have signed up to provide quality levels of support, irrespective of the originating vendor, so that users can trust and rely on the service.”

HealthLink’s Geoffrey Sayer said the SMX vendors also support application level acknowledgements, which provide notifications to the sender that the recipient application has received the message.

“SMX supports and encourages wide spread use of application acknowledgements to protect patients and clinicians,” Dr Sayer said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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