September 23, 2023

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Australia to create a connected health service through the National Health Interoperability Roadmap

Australia to create a connected health service through the National Health Interoperability Roadmap

An announcement
from the
Australian Digital Health Agency
highlighted the government’s plan
to connect health services all over the country through the National Health
Interoperability Roadmap.

The process of easier access to health
service records is about to become a reality. The National Health
Interoperability Roadmap is on its way.

Interoperability among systems is an
ongoing issue. Information on an individual’s health records are distributed
and saved on different health facilities systems across the country. And they
are stored as hard copies or scanned copies. Thus, a consumer does not have
ready access to records as well as who can manage and access them.

Digital health has enormous potential for
all Australians. However, this potential cannot be fully realised while
information remains fragmented across providers. Work should be done in order
for the different parts of Australia’s digital health system to work together.
Interoperability, the ability to exchange information, should be achieved.

Some of the building blocks are already in
place. My Health Record provides both a vehicle and a defining framework for
the sharing of key information. Also, sharing information between providers who
have a clinical relationship to each other and a shared patient are also being
used. An example of which is pathology laboratories providing information back
to referring GPs in highly useful electronic formats.

Although bilateral exchanges of information
work extremely well, issues arise when a service provider that is not included
in the arrangement becomes involved in the care of the patient. How can they
access critical information without needing to know the original source in

To address this, the draft US Trusted Exchange
Framework may serve as a model. Care providers who have critical information
about a patient must be able to share that information without knowing in
advance who needs it.

Two critical issues arose and needed collective
agreement would be the information that would be shared and if the output of
one system can be reliably interpreted and used in another.

In order to reap maximum benefits from the
exchange of information, a prioritisation process needs to be undertaken. The
most urgent problem should be addressed first.

During the planning, the possible approach
to societal cost such as patient safety, service navigation or service efficiency
should be identified. The possible approaches that will advance terminological
consistency should be classified.

The approaches that would promote “atomic
longitudinal data” that tracks individual measurements and status at different
points in time must be distinguished. Pinpointing the key possible approaches
that can be reduced to a series of value-adding steps that can be incrementally
implemented is also essential.

Approaches that are feasible and
cost-effective to implement as well as those that provide a viable proposition
for all stakeholders should be recognised.

In all of these, it must be guaranteed that
Australian consumers have access to global developments, and that Australian
industry is not locked out of global markets by overly localised solutions.

To lay the foundations for resolving these
issues, a commitment to develop a National Health Interoperability Roadmap by
December 2018 was made. Stakeholders will soon be called upon to get involved
in the project.

An engagement
that is available for download was used to undertake some preliminary
engagement with clinical colleges and industry, community and professional

Emphasis on collaboration, co-development
and co-production is given at the Australian Digital Health Agency. Cooperation
is needed to achieve the immense potential benefits of a national digital
health system.

A full public and industry consultation
process will commence in the new financial year.

An earlier announcement made by the
Australian Digital Health Agency in 2017 released
a Request for Tender (RTF) 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.


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