DoH aims for pathology and imaging on PCEHR by December

The Department of Health is aiming to have pathology and diagnostic imaging reports available on the PCEHR by December, but warns that a move to an opt-out model for the system by January 1 is not achievable.

The department has released draft summaries of two workshops held earlier this month concerning progress towards uploading pathology and DI reports. The workshops covered where the discussions had got up to before work was halted late last year, when federal health minister Peter Dutton ordered an inquiry into the PCEHR system.

For the pathology sector, consensus seems to have been achieved around a short-term goal to upload pathology reports as immutable PDFs to the PCEHR and to proceed with a new authority to post (ATP) system, in which a general practitioner would review the report with the patient and then send a secure message to the pathology provider, who would then upload the report.

For the diagnostic imaging sector, however, there is disagreement, with discussions this month raising the possibility that radiologists could upload their reports directly. The argument is that diagnostic imaging providers often see patients in person and provide them with hard copies of the images rather than sending them first to the referring doctor.

The DI sector is discussing whether a report on the images can be sent directly to the PCEHR without waiting for an ATP.

In its summary of the pathology meeting, the department states that the ATP system is merely an interim step and will not be viable in the long term. Much work has been done by on standardising terms and measurements in two projects led by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), known as the PITS and the PITUS projects, but more will be required to ensure standard terms and measures are used before atomic data can be added to the PCEHR.

More work is planned on the ATP workflow and messaging process, with further meetings to be held early next month.

The summaries both concede that one of the prime recommendations of the PCEHR review, that an opt-out model be introduced by January 1, 2015, is not possible.

“Given the consultation required to work through the issues of moving to an opt out system with consumers and clinicians, the January 2015 implementation date suggested in the review reports is not achievable,” the department says.

“After the consultation process, advice will be provided back to government on the approach, cost and timeframe for implementation.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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