HealthLink streamlines medical certificate lodgement

GPs have taken to a new capability to lodge work capacity medical certificates to Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) through HealthLink secure messaging with alacrity, with upwards of 60 per cent of practices having used the new service since its launch a month ago.

GPs previously had to print out and sign the certificates and give them to the patient, who then had to lodge them in person with WINZ. The Ministry of Social Development receives over 400,000 work capacity medical certificates each year.

Now they can be sent directly to WINZ via secure messaging from within the GP's practice management system (PMS). HealthLink CEO Tom Bowden said the functionality was available in all of the seven or so electronic medical record systems that have integrated Health Information Standards Organisation (HISO) standards.

By clicking on the HealthLink interface in the PMS, users can navigate to the form, fill it out, save a copy to the patient's file and then submit it securely with just one click. They will also receive an acknowledgement of receipt.

The functionality has been developed based on HISO requirements and government data security standards, similar to other HISO-conformant forms containing sensitive medical information such as eReferrals and test orders.

“The big benefit to WINZ is that they receive it in a useful format all ready to go into their systems,” Mr Bowden said. “We aren't just sending a PDF here; we are talking about a highly structured piece of information on the form.

“By pre-populating the form with patient data and eliminating printing, an electronic medical certificate also reduces the administration burden on GPs, freeing up more time for their patients.”

Mr Bowden said the benefits of electronic lodgement were obvious but the uptake had significantly exceeded expectations.

“GP adoption has been much faster than anything we have seen before, with over 500 practices using electronic lodgement within the first month,” he said.

“The HISO standard makes it possible to introduce a new form very quickly and that's what has happened here. People are already using these forms for a range of other purposes and what the HISO standard allows you to do is click in a new one very easily.”

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the online form was a great example of the health and social welfare sectors working together to make dealing with government simpler and less time consuming.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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