Houston prepares for PCEHR, NZ palliative care standards

New Zealand-headquartered clinical information system vendor Houston Medical is completing functionality to its VIP.net product to allow Australian users to access the PCEHR.

Houston Medical CEO Derek Gower said that while mostly used by specialists in Australia, Houston Medical also has a small following in general practice. The company is now actively engaged in integrating the requirements of the eHealth Practice Incentive Program (ePIP) for GP users, he said.

“ePrescribing with eRx Script Exchange is completing testing, with Health Identifiers and SMD messaging to follow shortly after,” Mr Gower said.

“Houston Medical is the leading supplier of software to ophthalmologists in both New Zealand and Australia and having now just completed installs in two major sports medicine clinics, with orthopaedic surgeons and allied health users, access to the PCEHR will be essential.”

Mr Gower said that while the company was a bit slow to start, it was now committed to meeting the deadlines.

In New Zealand, Houston Medical has recently completed work with the Arohanui Hospice in Palmerston North to upgrade its older Houston Medical software to VIP.net. Changes to data reporting standards for palliative care are being introduced in New Zealand, so the company has been working closely with the hospice as a pilot site for the new standards.

Arohanui Hospice’s IT manager, Megan Peterson, said the hospice had long reported electronically, but was still using paper-based inpatient notes. Ms Peterson said the upgrade to VIP.net took place at the same time as the hospice was implementing the new palliative care data standards.

Houston Medical designed the new database tables to store the information required by the Ministry of Health (MOH). Each episode of care now has to be recorded, and within each episode each contact with the patient, family, carers and any medical providers is captured.

“There will be new reporting requirements when the standards are finalised – they are still in draft at the moment – and we've had the opportunity to feed back to representatives at the MOH how we are finding the standards are working,” Ms Peterson said. “We've suggested a couple of enhancements.”

She said data that is collected will be standardised so data collection can be done with continuity across the whole healthcare setting. “When we all report, they can compare apples with apples in a consistent fashion,” she said.

“They require us to collect information in a systematic way, consistently across the whole gamut of the organisation. That's the main emphasis – we are collecting things consistently, so when a question is asked of all palliative care that it can be answered in a consistent way so then you get a comparison of data rather than if, ands and buts.”

Mr Gower said he expects that the work done with standards as the official MOH pilot site will also be of interest to palliative and aged care providers in Australia.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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