HealthConnex on FHIR in the wild with TCM interface

Telstra Health's wholly owned subsidiary HealthConnex has launched a new version of its The Care Manager (TCM) case management software for aged and community care that can interoperate with the company's MyCareManager client portal through a FHIR interface.

In what is thought to be one of the first instances of the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard being using in the wild, version 7.16 of TCM will be able to interface with MyCareManager to provide home care clients with easy access to the new monthly financial statements they are receiving as part of the consumer-directed care (CDC) reforms.

While MyCareManager can be used as a complete home telehealth solution, it is the client portal functionality that is being harnessed in this instance. TCM users will be able to register clients for MyCareManager directly from TCM, publish their statements or other information to the portal and to allow them to view their appointment lists.

While it will initially be one-way communication from service provider to client, the plan is that in future clients will be able to interact with their providers through the portal – for example booking services directly – and their information will be directly loaded back into TCM. This is all made possible through the FHIR interface without having to undertake extensive integration work between different systems.

Peter Dannock, general manager for TCM at HealthConnex, said TCM was just one of the many client management systems that are out there that could hook into the portal via FHIR.

“It’s quite universal in the sense of what we can do there,” Mr Dannock said. “It also gives us capabilities across our own portfolio of products.

“Sometimes with our customer base we’re sourcing client records from other systems, like a patient management system, and we’ve tended to do bespoke interfaces between those other systems. FHIR gives you some opportunity to have a more generic interface.”

As well as being part of the wider Telstra Health family, HealthConnex itself has a disparate portfolio of software packages and secure messaging services. As well as TCM, it markets the Communicare clinical software package popularly used by indigenous healthcare providers and an enterprise level management solution called Aged and Community Care (ACC).

It also includes the Argus secure messaging service used by general practitioners, allied health professionals, specialists and hospitals, along with the ConnectingCare secure messaging and referral system for health and community services and its ConnectingCare Worker for roster distribution.

Mr Dannock said FHIR would enable the company to bring a consolidated view of information from multiple sources together, much more easily than has been possible in the past.

“The example I would give is that we get requests sometimes where we have a Communicare customer who also extends their service to community aged care. So what they would need is TCM, but they've already got Communicare, so how could we create a single picture of a client or a source of truth on that client across those systems? We think that FHIR can provide that capability for us very quickly.”

TCM has been built to manage multiple government-funded programs and allows organisations to electronically manage and process referrals, develop care plans and clinical histories as well as manage individual client's financial transactions such as invoicing and payments.

Last year, HealthConnex released a version of TCM with self-directed care capabilities in advance of the looming deadline of July 1 2015, when the Commonwealth's Home and Community Care (HACC) packages moved to CDC.

Mr Dannock said that version had been available for nine to 12 months to get HACC providers used to CDC. The new version, 7.16, includes all of that functionality along with some additional features such as the ability to update subsidies and supplements when the new fee structures are released.

HealthConnex is also planning to fine-tune this functionality over the next 12 months to also support its disability care customers in advance of the full implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“Self-directed care is not quite the same in disability as it is in aged care, but we see this functionality as also supporting disability organisations in the future,” Mr Dannock said.

Also in the future, providers of home care packages – more extensive support programs to enable people with more complex needs to stay at home longer – will also come under the CDC banner as the packages are merged with HACC as part of the new, single Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

These are vast changes that the aged, disability and community care sectors are still grappling with and have meant a lot of work for aged and community care software providers.

However, Mr Dannock believes that in the longer term, FHIR will provide companies with the ability to run software like TCM more as a back-office solution, with its users and their clients interacting through a portal.

“Users that were traditionally TCM users will now become online users working through a portal, whether it be a worker portal or a client portal,” he said. “That’s where our growth in users is going to come from, so we will probably see organisations having a steady number of TCM users, but a lot more online users feeding information in.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: Telstra Health, HealthConnex, FHIR

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