HCN and HealthLink collaborate to extend secure messaging network
HCN and HealthLink have connected their respective secure messaging infrastructures, allowing customers of both companies to communicate with a greater number of healthcare organisations. The development means doctors using HCN’s Medical Director software will be able to send clinical information to any healthcare provider on the HealthLink secure messaging network. This ‘interconnectivity’ has been made possible via an agreement that has seen the HCN’s MDExchange messaging hub connected with HealthLink’s communications infrastructure.
In announcing the development, the companies touted their respective market shares, HCN claiming “Medical Director is used by more than 17,000 medical professionals”, with HealthLink indicating “5300 practices, hospitals, laboratories and acute care facilities in Australia” are using their messaging solutions.
John Frost, CEO of HCN said, “There is a very real requirement for information flowing securely between acute care and primary care. Medical professionals want to exchange reports, referrals, hospital discharge summaries and similar electronic messages today. Market leaders, Medical Director and HealthLink, have taken this important step towards widespread interoperability.”
The coupling of HCN’s and HealthLink’s messaging capabilities is already being showcased in the ACT, where GPs running MD3 are now able to send referrals to the Canberra Hospital’s outpatient service. GPs referring to the hospital select a customised template from within Medical Director, which contains relevant data that can be seamlessly integrated into the hospital’s various systems, minimising the need for manual transcription from paper referrals. In addition to electronic acknowledgements that the referral has safely reached the hospital, the referrer can also be notified that their patient has had an appointment scheduled by the relevant hospital department.
In a statement, Dr Peggy Brown, ACT Health Chief Executive said, “For GPs, the ability to send referrals by secure messaging direct from the patient’s electronic medical record, is not only time and paper saving but allows the GP to receive acknowledgments that the referral has been received and to be informed in a timely and reliable way about scheduled appointments.”
This electronic referral workflow has been available to practices in the ACT region using the Medtech32 practice software solution since 2009, however the participation of HCN dramatically extends the reach of the Canberra hospital’s electronic referral catchment, John Frost revealing that HCN has over 50 practices in the ACT using MD3.
Dr Geoffrey Sayer, HealthLink Australia’s General Manager, indicated that there are around 130 practices in the Canberra Hospital region, with approximately 20 of these expected to be up and running within a few weeks.
The electronic referral project builds upon a discharge summary project undertaken by HealthLink and Orion Health, one of the key software suppliers to the Canberra Hospital. Chris Stephens, Orion Health’s Regional Director for Australia and Southeast Asia said, “This initiative will further enhance the ACT Health eReferrals solution by increasing the number of general practitioners and specialists having access to timely and accurate information. It is another improvement to health interoperability between primary and secondary care providers.”
Due to the number of disparate software systems running in the hospital, not all departments within the hospital are currently able to accept such electronic referrals, however Dr Sayer indicated the service will be expanded in time, with extra capabilities added at both the hospital and to referring practices. It is expected that additional general practice software will also be capable of sending electronic referrals to the Canberra Hospital in the near future.
“HealthLink is seeking to enable practices running other clinical software to participate in the Canberra Hospital referral project, with developers of other popular practice software solutions undertaking to perform the necessary upgrades to their systems to enable this to happen,” said Dr Sayer.
In addition to the new referring workflow enabled as a result of HCN’s collaboration with HealthLink, Dr Sayer noted that, for the first time, a secure messaging company is now able to transport HL7 messages generated by MD3, without the need for an intermediary to create HL7 messages on MD3’s behalf.
John Frost explained that MD3 practices wanting to communicate with their colleagues using other clinical software and a HealthLink messaging capability can now add the recipient’s HealthLink EDI to the MD3 address book, a one-off process that provides the HealthLink messaging system with the information it needs to direct the message to the appropriate recipient.
Posted in Australian eHealth