Our inaugural interview sees Pulse IT check in with Ross Davey, CEO of ArgusConnect.
PULSE IT: What is Argus?
Argus is a computer program that enables health service providers to securely exchange clinical documents via email.
It operates on any doctor’s computer alongside existing medical software and provides additional features for the clinical environment such as security through the use of PKI encryption, the HL7 Standard for sending clinical data in an organised form and additional mechanisms that ensure recipients receive the document.
Argus can provide doctors and other healthcare providers with access to pathology and imaging results, specialist letters, admission and discharge summaries, emergency department notifications and other related documents electronically and can import these documents into the patient notes.
With Argus, a doctor can also transmit a pathology request, specialist referral, or compile and send a health summary to another doctor.
Because Argus uses open, commonly-used internet technologies (e.g. email) other healthcare providers can implement Argus easily and cheaply. Also, doctors can choose whichever internet service provider they wish.
PULSE IT: What is a practice required to do to get up and running with Argus?
First, go to our web site and register your interest in Argus. This will get the ball rolling and we will contact you to determine how you would like to proceed and what facilities you have at present.
Because ArgusConnect now provides both an interim email address and PKI keys as part of the install package, most practices will only need a computer with Internet connectivity to start to use Argus.
Client Site Requirements
- PC with Windows 98, 2000 or XP, Linux or Apple Macintosh with OSX
- GPs: Clinical software with pathology report receipt capability (PIT or HL7 format)
- Specialists: as above or otherwise use MS Word for report typing
- Pathology providers: Interface of lab system to ArgusEnterprise
- Radiology Providers: Interface of lab system to ArgusX
- Internet connectivity: dial-up or permanent connection with a speed of 28K up to broadband
- Email address for the practice, dedicated to clinical messaging (i.e. different from doctors’ or practice personal email addresses)
- HeSA PKI certi?cates for the practice
PULSE IT: Can Argus be installed by a practice member, or is professional IT help required?
Argus can be installed by a practice member and they could do this quite easily under the telephone guidance of our Help Desk staff. The entire installation and configuration normally only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. However many practices choose to use an IT Professional because that person is frequently more able to understand the computer environment into which Argus is being installed. Also, around Australia there are more than 70 qualified ‘Certified Argus Installers’ who have undertaken formal ArgusConnect installation training, with more booked in for future training courses. Many practices avail themselves of the assistance provided by these people who work for Divisions, pathology or radiology practices or are private contractors.
PULSE IT: What is the cost to a medical practice?
Argus software licence is free to GPs and specialists. Support is also free to these medical practices. For other healthcare organisations such as pathology and radiology practices, hospitals and aged care facilities, Argus has a licence fee schedule that is linked to the size of the organisation. However even for these users there is an introductory low-volume fee-free licence offer available. All pricing is available for public viewing on our Web site.
PULSE IT: How does Argus integrate with the practice’s clinical package?
ArgusConnect has expended considerable effort in developing interfaces with most of the popular clinical software packages. This effort continues to be a large part of our development activity. We use a variety of methods of integrating depending on the capabilities of the various software applications; however most packages use a consistent means of receiving pathology, radiology and specialist reports, and Argus uses this method.
The different software packages provide Argus with varying ways to capture their output reports and letters for sending to other healthcare providers. Currently packages that can export letters and reports to be sent by Argus are:
- Medical Director
- Blue Chip
- Best Practice
Look for the ‘Argus Enabled’ logo on the software vendor’s publicity documentation.
For specialists and allied health providers who simply use Microsoft Word to compile reports, Argus provides an MSWord Template and interface so that reports can be sent directly from the Word menu.
PULSE IT: Is Argus any different to other messaging software and if so, how?
There are a number of differences that give Argus an edge over other messaging systems:
- With Argus, doctors and other practitioners don’t have to sign up to a specific messaging service provider, which can restrict them to receiving documents only from that company’s clients. All users can choose their own ISP and can operate using dialup or broadband.
- There is absolutely no cost for any user to send or receive messages, regardless of the type of practice or volume of messages.
- There are no hidden secrets with Argus as Argus source code is open to any interested party.
- Argus is managed by a not-for-profit company, ArgusConnect, and therefore is able focus on applying all funds to product development and service and not on a need to distribute profits to shareholders.
PULSE IT: How is Argus supported?
Argus has a professional support team spearheaded by our telephone Help Desk. Most support for GP, specialist and other allied health practices is covered by remote Help Desk assistance. Many sites also have access to one of the 45 ‘Certified Argus Installers’ for assistance if the need is more complex or requires on-site assistance. For more complex issues, most sites also avail themselves of the option for ArgusConnect support staff to directly link to their computers using a secure online link.
Larger and more complex sites enter into a comprehensive support agreement by which they pay a yearly fee to receive telephone, remote computer linkup, and on-site assistance.
Standard support arrangements are available in business hours (8am to 5pm AEST) with after hours covered before and after these times by one Help Desk support staff member.
PULSE IT: How many working sites does Argus have?
ArgusConnect has current deployment projects happening in cooperation with GP Divisions in Darwin, Alice Springs, Townsville, Toowoomba, Coffs Harbour, Bowral, Brighton, Mornington, Hobart, Burnie, Bendigo, and Adelaide North, with a further 8-10 ready to commence. Other deployment projects with organisations other than Divisions are taking place in Canberra, Nowra/South Coast NSW and Western Victoria. Four State Health Departments are using Argus for clinical data communication.
Sites that are currently registered with our Help Desk include:
- 150 GP practices
- 32 specialist practices
- 82 others (hospitals, community health centres, allied health etc)
We are currently receiving about 60 registrations of interest per month.
Posted in Australian eHealth