The Health Provider Registry

In 2001 SA Divisions of General Practice Inc (SADI) identified a need for more timely and accurate discharge summaries. SADI recognised that a statewide central and authoritative address book of provider and practice details would help to address this need. In 2002, the SA Health’s program, provided funding for the address book to assist in the delivery of electronic separation (discharge) summaries sent from the clinical information system across the Adelaide public hospitals.

In 2003 the Health Provider Registry (HPRy) began providing the address book for the electronic separation summary and SA Health has continued to provide ongoing funding since this time. Today the HPRy facilitates the delivery of over 8,000 discharge summaries per month across South Australia, Northern Territory, Broken Hill, Mildura and Western parts of Victoria (South Australian patient catchment area).

To build and maintain the HPRy, a model of engagement was adopted, with individual doctors being asked to consent to be part of the HPRy. This consent allows the HPRy to use their information only for direct patient care and public health alerts

Today approximately 98% of GPs and 90% of private specialists have individually consented to be on the HPRy. They have consented because:

  1. The 20 divisions, 7 specialist colleges and 13 allied health groups who represent health care providers support the HPRy.
  2. The healthcare providers realise their consent relates to the care of patients: timely communications i.e. discharge summaries and public health alerts.
  3. It is one place for practice managers to notify the health system when their healthcare provider’s move or practice details change.
  4. Healthcare provider’s information is not going to be used for general mail outs or appear in mailing lists.
  5. The registry is available to all practices who participate free of charge as a service directory to locate specialists and/or GPs.

In a recent HPRy survey to practices over 74% responded that the quality and timeliness of discharge summaries had improved or greatly improved since the inception of and HPRy.

One critical requirement of a registry related to patient care is that it can be maintained to ensure patient safety. The HPRy does this by a “many fingers in many pies” approach, as follows:

  1. The key source of updates is the use of the HPRy data by SA Health ( and Communicable Diseases Control Branch). 8,000 discharge summaries per month and a public health alert, faxed to the entire database on average once per month continuously validate the data.
  2. articipating divisions, colleges and allied health groups notify the HPRy of member updates.
  3. Through the practice access interface (see point 5 above) practices are able to update their details online. Currently 36% of the GP practices in South Australia have applied to have this access.
  4. An annual validation confirming all health provider’s details is conducted.

Now that the HPRy has been operating for 5 years, the brand and importantly the trust of the HPRy at the practice level has been established. This means the practices know who we are and see us as an important part of the communications for their practice. The HPRy has expanded to include other providers at the location level such as aboriginal medical services, aged care facilities and prisons for the purpose of discharge planning. Private hospitals including Calvary HealthCare Adelaide Ltd. also use the registry to distribute discharge letters to doctors.

SADI is currently working with HealthConnect SA to include Allied Health care providers in the HPRy as part of the development of a web-based care planning system. This will allow GPs who create online care plans to communicate electronically with other health care providers involved in their patients care via the HPRy address book.

Delivery of separation summaries from so they can be directly imported into a specialists or GPs’ electronic health records will shortly be available, eliminating the need to scan.

The HPRy is currently working with General Practice Queensland in the development of their iHealth Care Directory and is in discussions with other states. There is the potential here for a national network of provider directories based on the South Australian model and technology.

The HPRy utilises open standards (HL7) and open source software (Linux). The HPRy is a professionally managed service that is governed by a Service Level Agreement with users of the data ensuring a high availability but also a sustainable user pays model. This inspires a level of confidence in such registries by organisations responsible for delivering patient care.

The HPRy is neither just a piece of technology nor an address book. It is an enabler of communications and a core piece of infrastructure that is required by any statewide or national system aiming to improve the flow of information between health care providers. It is also a tangible and practical achievement that the divisional network has delivered to its members and that they and their patients benefit from on a daily basis.

Gary Holzer

Posted in Australian eHealth

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