PCEHR release 5 planned for late 2014, opt-out a different story

Release five of the PCEHR, which is intended to include a new section to display pathology and diagnostic imaging results, is scheduled for later this year but a move to an opt-out model is not likely until next year, according to NEHTA representatives.

Addressing an Australian Association of Practice Managers (AAPM) webinar today, NEHTA's clinical usability program manager Heather McDonald said a move to opt-out would require legislative changes and she did not expect it to go ahead on January 1 2015, as recommended by the PCEHR review panel in its recent report.

“I think everyone is supporting opt-out and I think it will happen, but there is a time lag between committing to that and achieving it,” Ms McDonald said.

NEHTA's customer care manager Cassie Farrell said the Department of Health was currently reviewing the report's recommendations and planned to hold consultations from August through to November. Ms Farrell said it was her view that the findings of that consultation would not be available until next year.

“They will compile that consultation and I imagine that by March next year ... we will have the findings of that consultation,” she said. “We’ll know by then what the timeframes we are looking at.”

Ms McDonald said the more immediate steps were to hold a meeting of the steering committee of the clinical usability program (CUP) on July 3, involving representatives of the peak bodies for GPs, to develop strategies to improve the use of the system in advance of a decision on opt-out. NEHTA was also working with the peak bodies on communications strategies for their members, she said.

“We have really ramped up that work and hopefully you will see some more action in the next couple of months.”

NEHTA is also planning to begin working more closely with the medical specialist sector in the next three or four months, as well as with allied health peak bodies to encourage them to take part.

“Many allied health people don’t have electronic systems that general practices do, but we are working with them because they are important for sending up event summaries,” Ms McDonald said.

“We’ve been talking to the allied health peak bodies about how we can work with them to get access to the PCEHR, including accessing the [provider] portal. One of the issues with accessing the portal is that you can’t write or download [through] the portal, you can only read.

“Some of the smaller vendors have got what is called a contracted service provider (CSP) who are software vendors working for organisations, and I suspect there will be a lot of those who will work on behalf of the allied health professionals. There is work happening on how to get allied health on board sooner rather than later because obviously they are a key part of the care process.”

She said PCEHR release 5 was due at the end of the year and would include pathology and diagnostic imaging reports. As Pulse+IT reported yesterday, this was originally planned for May 2014 but disagreements over how the reports would be rendered, in addition to uncertainty over whether the PCEHR would be retained under the new government, has held up progress.

Ms McDonald encouraged practice managers to ensure that National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) certificates, many of which will expire in the next six months, are renewed as they are essential not only for the PCEHR but for secure messaging as well.

She said the Department of Human Services (DHS) was working on automatically renewing NASH certificates but this will not happen until the end of the year. She also encouraged practices that are used to using secure messaging for point to point communications to begin thinking about also communicating point to share by uploading documents to the PCEHR and including it in practice workflow.

Pharmacies are beginning to use the system more often through the National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR) and they could also upload event summaries for allergies to medications, she said.

NEHTA has added demonstrations to the provider section of its website that shows how the system works in practice and pharmacy software, including how dispense records are uploaded and viewed in Fred software.

There are also demonstrations of how to create a shared health summary in Best Practice, Medical Director, Communicare, Genie, Medtech32 and practiX. Individual software vendors have provided these demonstrations on their own websites for some time.

Ms McDonald also said public hospitals were starting to send discharge summaries and populating the system.

“Many of the GP practices are saying what is the use of me sending something if there is nothing there,” she said. “That is starting to change. There are a couple of thousand discharge summaries going up per week.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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