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Australian Digital Health Agency piloting the use of My Health Record in hospital emergency departments

The Australian Digital Health Agency (DHA) has initiated a pilot for the use of My Health Record (MyHR) in hospital emergency departments, in partnership with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

MyHR would provide clinicians fast, secure access to health information such as allergies and medicines that may not otherwise be available in hospital information systems. This is especially important in emergency departments, where clinicians have to act quickly within a limited window to provide lifesaving treatment.

The pilot is based on the successful My Health Record participation trials conducted by the Nepean Blue Mountains and the Northern Queensland Primary Health Networks (PHNs). These trials demonstrated that clinicians working in hospital emergency departments were able to obtain valuable additional information by accessing My Health Record in real time.

The pilot is expected to take place over a period of two years, with an interim report due to the DHA in June 2018. The project will be led by a senior emergency department clinician and will be overseen by the Agency, the Commission, NSW Health and Queensland Health, as well as consumer and clinical representatives. Stakeholders and consumers will also be consulted via roundtables, workshops and targeted interviews.

The Commission will work with hospitals within Nepean Blue Mountains and North Queensland Primary Health Networks to develop a pilot model over the course of the project. This model will then be piloted in other hospitals in Australia.

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Tim Kelsey said, “Where My Health Record is being utilised, we are seeing reductions in duplicated testing and lower hospital re-admission rates. However, we need to identify potential barriers to the uptake of My Health Record in hospitals, and enable better integration with primary and secondary healthcare providers.”

“It is time-consuming for hospital staff to gain information on the patient’s medicines, what their GP has been doing to manage the condition, and the procedures provided by other hospitals. This time could be better used treating the patient,” said Adjunct Professor Debora Picone AM, the CEO of ACSQHC.

To date, more than 5 million people (Australia’s population is estimated to be around 24.6 million) are using My Health Record, a citizen-controlled secure online summary of health information, which enables healthcare providers to share secure health data to improve safety and quality of healthcare. Over 10,143 healthcare providers are connected.

In its 2017/2018 Budget, the Australian government announced its plans to provide AU$374.2 million over a period of two years from 2017-18 onwards, including AU$94.0 million in capital, to ensure that every Australian has a My Health Record, unless they prefer to opt out. DHA plays the role of the My Health Record System Operator and is responsible for protecting the security, privacy and confidentiality of people’s digital health records.

In recent weeks, there has been a series of announcements from DHA, revealing progress in the plans for the implementation of My Health Record. Last month, DHA released a Request for Tender (RFT) to develop a Strategic Interoperability Framework for Australia, with the objective of creating a seamless health system which delivers high quality, safe care through better sharing of information. The Agency also announced in the same month that private radiology and pathology reports from two Sonic Healthcare Group companies, the largest pathology provider in Australia, will be available in My Health Record.

DHA also announced that it will be working with clinical information systems vendors to develop nationally scalable secure electronic messaging between healthcare providers and last week, another partnership was initiated with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to help build the digital health capabilities of community pharmacies.

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