Who's taking a view of the PCEHR

It is still predominantly consumers who are logging in and viewing documents on their PCEHR according to Department of Health figures, but clinicians are beginning to take a look, albeit in tiny numbers.

The department's assistant secretary for eHealth systems operation, Matt Corkhill, told a Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) forum in Sydney last month that 20,000 PCEHRs are looked at by consumers on average each month.

There are also on average 500 unique healthcare providers who are viewing documents each month, the vast majority of whom are also updating or uploading something to the system. For the first time, however, the department has released figures on how many documents are being looked at by another healthcare provider besides the one who uploaded the document.

Mr Corkhill said this averaged about 140 documents per month. “That shows there is some use across the system, of people using the system who aren't the number one healthcare provider,” he said.

Figures from late March show there are 44,018 shared health summaries, 116,584 discharge summaries and 9580 event summaries now on the system.

There are over 5000 general practices registered, representing almost 75 per cent of practices that are eligible, but only 11,000, or one in three, GPs are registered.

About 1150 community pharmacies are registered, representing 22 per cent of all pharmacies.

Mr Corkhill said of the more than two million consumers registered, 171,117 were first registered as newborns. New parents are able to tick a box on their Medicare forms when registering a newborn and the department will create a PCEHR for them.

“We are starting to capture people right in very first day of their life,” he said.

Owen Torpy, head of policy and planning for NEHTA, also revealed some figures on the use of the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service. In February, the HI Service received 11.3 million transactions, compared to six to seven million transactions per month a year ago.

Mr Torpy said NEHTA no longer had much to do with the PCEHR, which is now the responsibility of the department, but was working with the jurisdictions on rolling out discharge summary upload capability at public hospitals, as well as concentrating on electronic medications management and getting the Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) in wider use.

“There is also the continual drive to have meaningful use of eHealth,” Mr Torpy said. “We would like to begin capturing and measuring the benefits of implementing electronic medications management. It is a matter of working with the jurisdictions on starting to implement the national foundations that have been built and funded by COAG over the last decade.

“Another focus of NEHTA at the moment is on the secure messaging market, which at the moment is still fragmented. All of the vendors have the ability to be interoperable but at the moment are choosing not to. That is a situation that NEHTA is determined to fix.”

However, Mr Torpy said NEHTA was officially only funded until June 30 and a decision on its future had not been announced.

Mr Corkhill said new functionality for the system would depend on what the government announces in the May budget. This includes the potential to upload advance care directives.

“Advance care directives are part of work that we undertook a couple of years ago,” he said. “That is designed and sitting there waiting for the prioritisation process…

“It is on our list of things to discuss now with government.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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