HIPS for private hospitals as states outline eHealth progress

The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is in discussions with the private hospital sector about using middleware designed by the South Australian Health Department to link private hospitals to the PCEHR.

SA Health's Healthcare Identifier and PCEHR Services (HIPS) product has been designed to support PCEHR interfaces for document upload, retrieval and management as well as interfaces to the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service.

It is also being developed to provide secure message delivery (SMD) interfaces to support point-to-point message processing.

NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming told the Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) conference in Sydney last week that the organisation was also working with the states and territories on how to include pathology and diagnostic imaging results generated in the public system on the PCEHR.

Mr Fleming provided a brief update on how each jurisdiction was progressing with PCEHR integration, with Queensland the most advanced in having all but two hospitals connected, and NSW set to have all of its hospitals connected by March next year.

Tasmania has used HIPS to link its public hospitals to send discharge summaries, and it is also working on how to send raw medication data to the PCEHR, Mr Fleming said.

South Australia has seven hospitals connected and the ACT has connected the Canberra Hospital. Mr Fleming said NEHTA was working with WA and Victoria on a roll-out strategy, with Royal Perth Hospital and Eastern Health having gone live with discharge summaries.

The Northern Territory is about to begin work on migrating its My eHealth Record over to the PCEHR once the next release is available. This release is planned to include the facility to upload pathology and diagnostic imaging, a necessary requirement for the NT to join the national system. This work will also include linking its hospitals.

“Every jurisdiction has committed to this, not just in terms of discharge [summaries] and viewing but in medication data,” Mr Fleming said.

“We are working with the jurisdictions to make some business cases to get pathology and diagnostic imaging also feeding through.

“That's the public sector. The work we have done to integrate that we are now making available to the private hospitals, the HIPS system, and entering into some quite detailed discussions with them at the moment.”

Also at the RMA conference, a representative of each state and territory provided a presentation of the wider eHealth and telehealth developments the jurisdictions are working on. In addition to the summary below, Pulse+IT will provide a more detailed look at each jurisdiction over the next week.

Western Australia: The executive director of medical services for WA Country Health Services, Tony Robins, outlined the difficulties in providing adequate connectivity to people living in the remotest parts of the state such as the Kimberley, where some communities have just one public telephone box to share. WA is working on providing satellite links to some of the communities, where other broadband technologies are impossible.

Dr Robins defended the state's Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS), which provides video conferencing capability with emergency specialists in Perth to nurses working in small rural clinics and hospitals when a GP is not available. The scheme has been criticised by rural GPs and doctors' groups who say the service bypasses GPs in other towns who could provide assistance.

NSW: eHealth NSW's director of innovation, strategy and architecture Michael Costello explained the structure of the new agency and announced that the position of director of rural health had been filled.

Dr Costello said the state's HealtheNet system, designed to link acute and community-provided care to the PCEHR, would be rolled out to all NSW public hospitals by March next year. He also said the Health Wide Area Network (HWAN) being built to link all public healthcare sites to the state's telehealth network would be complete by the end of 2015.

Northern Territory: The NT's chief clinical information officer, Leonie Katekar, discussed progress in telehealth, the shared electronic health record, point-of-care testing and moves to update both the hospital medical records system and primary care information systems.

Dr Katekar also provided some detail on the work the Territory is doing with Telstra through the new National Telehealth Connection Service to enable non-government health sites in remote areas to connect to the government telehealth service.

Queensland: Queensland's acting chief technical officer at the Health Information Services Agency, Paul Carroll, focused on inter-provider and inter-facility information sharing.

He outlined progress in the use of telehealth, which he said grew by 40 per cent last year, and announced that as of this week, public hospital clinicians and rural GPs with hospital visiting rights will be able to view radiology reports through Queensland's The Viewer system.

South Australia: Executive director of mental health with the Country SA Local Health Network, Rebecca Graham, discussed projects delivering telehealth services to the APY Lands in Central Australia and to provide support to after-hours GPs on the Eyre Peninsula.

Ms Graham alluded to the problems the state was experiencing in the roll-out of its EPAS system in its public hospitals, as well as moves to potentially adopt WA's Emergency Telehealth Service. Country Health SA had developed an acronym for the new service – SAVES – which unfortunately is already in use by the state's voluntary euthanasia movement, so an alternative is going to be needed, she said.

Victoria: With Victoria now in caretaker mode due to the forthcoming election, the Victorian Department of Health's manager for telehealth strategy and development, Geraldine McDonald, was restricted in what she could say.

However, she outlined developments in telehealth, such as the establishment of a state-wide telehealth system for all mental health services with an inpatient facility, along with enabling the Hume region with telehealth facilities at 14 urgent care centres and the expansion of the successful Victorian Stroke Telemedicine service into the same region.

ACT: The ACT's manager for national eHealth initiatives, Ian Bull, concentrated on the capital's work in providing a range of clinical portals for consumers and clinicians, in addition to internal portals that are being used to link disparate information systems.

The ACT is also working on developing and implementing clinical terminologies, as well as developing an alerts system for allergies, adverse reactions and also some administrative alerts about a patient's social conditions.

The Canberra Hospital has been sending discharge summaries to the PCEHR since March last year, and is now working on coordinating eReferrals into a common interface to be able to receive eReferrals from doctors' systems directly into the hospital's system.

Tasmania: Tasmania's presentation was delivered by former ACRRM president Jeff Ayton on behalf of acting chief information officer Tom Simpson. Dr Ayton discussed the benefits of the NBN roll-out in Tasmania and the state's ability to make things happen more quickly with a small population.

He also discussed a new Connected Care Foundation project, which will see the implementation of a clinical portal and data repository in Tasmania's major acute facilities, including PCEHR viewing in early 2015.

External territories: Dr Ayton is also the chief medical officer of the Australian Antarctic Division and was able to proudly state that the entire continent was equipped with shared electronic health records.

“We also have point of care testing linked in with HL7 messaging through to the shared electronic health record, and now we've got PACS imaging coming within the electronic health record, all delivered over satellite with huge latencies,” he said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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