Argus and Medical-Objects demonstrate connectivity

Secure messaging service companies Argus and Medical-Objects have announced what they claim is the first live demonstration of inter-connectivity under the NEHTA SMD Proof of Inter-connectivity Demonstration (POD) project.

Part of the project requires vendors to demonstrate inter-connectivity of their messaging products between two or more sites, ensuring they connect with a minimum of two other deployed and conformant SMD products.

Argus general manager Ross Davey and Medical-Objects general manager Lynden Crawford said in a joint statement that Argus had deployed software in the Ararat Medical Centre in Victoria, and successfully interchanged HL7 messages with the North Rise Medical Centre in Queensland, which uses Medical-Objects.

According to NEHTA, the SMD-POD initiative was established in November 2012 to “provide proof that standards-based secure messaging can be deployed in a scalable way", using national infrastructure services, and to also demonstrate that different secure messaging products are capable of interconnecting within the Australian primary care sector and with other healthcare providers.

While a range of secure messaging solutions have been utilised in healthcare organisations for well over a decade, NEHTA’s work on the SMD technical specifications was intended to improve secure messaging compatibility across the health sector, principally by allowing messaging solutions created by different vendors to talk to each other, or ‘inter‑connect’.

SMD has, however, had a prolonged gestation period with little evidence of deployment or meaningful use in the market despite some early momentum, which culminated in an IHE Connectathon back in April 2010.

Two years later, the May 2012 federal budget flagged impeding changes to the eHealth Practice Incentives Program (ePIP) which put SMD back on the agenda for the messaging software vendor community. Since then, nine organisations have been listed on NEHTA’s eHealth PIP product register under the Secure Message Delivery category, with general practices required to have done some preparatory work pertaining to SMD by February 1, 2013, to qualify for the first ePIP incentive payment.

To meet the ePIP requirements on an ongoing basis, by August 1 practices must be able to verify that their compliant SMD product has been installed and configured in accordance with the commissioning requirements for SMD.

While NEHTA did not respond to Pulse+IT’s requests for information about the vendors participating in the SMD-POD project or the project more broadly, Pulse+IT understands that of the nine organisations listed on the NEHTA eHealth PIP product register, the following six are involved in the project:

Secure messaging vendors participating in SMD-POD are required to meet four project milestones, in addition to undertaking to periodically disclose the status of their SMD deployment to NEHTA.

By January 31, vendors were required to have been assessed by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited testing facility, demonstrating conformance to the Standards Australia technical specifications for SMD ATS 5822‑2010.

Secondly, by February 15, vendors were required to complete inter-connectivity testing with NEHTA’s test environment and with at least two other products (i.e. those of competing vendors) that had also passed the first requirement.

Thirdly, building on the second requirement, by April 30, vendors need to deploy their messaging solutions in at least 25 general practices and a minimum of five other healthcare organisations, excluding hospitals. It is understood that specialist practices are the likely environment that most vendors have selected to complement their general practice sites.

Fourthly, and by the same deadline of April 30, vendors are required to demonstrate inter-connectivity between two or more of these sites, ensuring they connect with a minimum of two other deployed and conformant SMD products.

The Argus/Medical-Objects interconnectivity demonstration in Victoria and Queensland forms part of this fourth requirement for the two companies.

"This is a great achievement between Medical-Objects and Argus," Mr Crawford said. "Working towards implementing inter-connectivity in a standards-based way can only benefit healthcare delivery.

"The NEHTA SMD-POD project has played an active role in creating stronger business relationships and communication between the participating vendors and therefore these milestones are able to be achieved. Medical-Objects strongly encourage inter-connectivity between vendors and view this achievement as a commitment to providing our customers with innovative products and services."

Mr Davey said the SMD-POD project had accelerated the effort already being undertaken to improve inter-connectivity between some of the messaging vendors operating in the sector.

"POD has just been consistent with what we are already doing with respect to implementing SMD and then collaborating with other vendors to enable message interchange," he said. "Hence POD has been a way of focusing on achieving important milestones which we appreciate is good for everyone.

"Achieving significant milestones such as this has been an important demonstration to our clients of our intent to be inter-connectable and commitment industry standards."

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Brett McPherson 2013-04-09 14:44
A significant achivement. How does this vary from the SMX "joint venture" or is this the same, wiit ha new name ??
0 # Kate McDonald 2013-04-09 14:57
Quoting Brett McPherson:
A significant achivement. How does this vary from the SMX "joint venture" or is this the same, wiit ha new name ??

Hi Brett. The SMX collaboration and SMD POD are different, the former being an industry-led move and the latter organised by NEHTA. The POD mainly aims to prove interconnectivi ty is possible between the different vendors, while the SMX group is working on longer-term and wider issues like standards for support, governance and acknowledgement s that messages have been received.
0 # Simon James 2013-04-09 16:15
Hi Brett,

The SMX agreement also attempts to deal with the business case aspects of message a nut shell the cash flow between vendors when a site using solution A sends a message to a site using solution B. How customers are supported in an inter-connected environment is also a consideration I believe.

So despite the progress on the technical front, it's good that there's some consideration for this side of things in place also, even if it's probably taken a back seat while the SMD-POD project has absorbed vendors' time these past 5 months.

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