Is slow PCEHR rollout curbing clinicians' enthusiasm?
Field-testing of the PCEHR in actual clinical practice shows a wide variation of the amount of time it takes to prepare and upload a shared health summary to the system, but on average it seems to take about 3.6 minutes, NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming said.
Addressing an eHealth session at the recent Rural Medicine Conference in Cairns, Mr Fleming said a study by NSW GP and former NEHTA clinical lead Chris Mitchell of five different sites actively using the system showed that it could take as little as seconds to upload a summary, but it depended on the accuracy of the data within the existing clinical information system.
Mr Fleming told the conference, organised by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), that it also depended on which GP clinical system was being used, as all have a slightly different interface.
“It clearly depends on the patient and the more you do it the quicker it becomes, but it is dependent on the accuracy of the data in there,” Mr Fleming said.
“The key to creating a shared health summary ... is making sure the data in your system is accurate. That varies by patient and by clinic, but on average across the five sites it is about 3.6 minutes.”
Mr Fleming said NEHTA planned to extend the study of the PCEHR in action to 50 sites, but that each one would be different.
However, a question was raised from a member of the audience about how this would affect the remuneration of GPs using the system. An average of 3.6 minutes would not be enough to extend a B consultation into a C, and yet over the course of a day, it could add an hour to the GP's workload.
Fionna Granger, assistant deputy secretary of the eHealth division of the Department of Health, said she couldn't make much comment in advance of the Health Minister's review of the system, but that she expected this question to be covered by the review panel.
Former ACRRM president and current board member Jeff Ayton said a lot of the feedback that the college was receiving from rural and remote Australia was that there was a danger that current users of the system are going to lose their enthusiasm and turn the system off.
This was echoed by an audience member who works for an Aboriginal Medical Service in rural NSW, which is obliged to use the system despite the local hospital not being able to access it.
“As someone on the ground, I find that no one in our service knows what eHealth does for us,” she said. “What can I take back to my service to convince them that it is worth doing, that we have to do it?”
Ms Granger said the department accepted that eHealth has to get to the point “where there are enough people on the system to make it worthwhile”.
“Our Northern Territory colleagues find it immensely valuable, particularly in that they have an indigenous and very mobile population,” she said.
“Over time your hospital will connect, that's when you start to get the value. But it is a staged rollout and that is sensible.”
Posted in Australian eHealth