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Electronic pathology requests on the rise


Doug Hendrie


28/10/2020 4:24:26 PM

Thousands of practices are using e-requests, with pathology reports uploaded to My Health Record soaring to 3.6 million in September alone.

Doctors viewing iPad
e-Requesting is intended to speed up the delivery of results to GPs, as well as streamline the patient experience.

General practices can now participate in e-requesting of pathology tests if they refer patients to labs with the necessary software.
 
If labs do not currently offer e-requests, GPs and practice staff can now request the functionality be turned on, according to Dr Rob Hosking, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM).
 
e-Requesting is intended to speed up the delivery of results to GPs, as well as streamline the patient experience, with faster collection, less waiting and lower chance of transcription errors. Some results can be uploaded to My Health Record.
 
The trend comes as much of Australia’s healthcare switched to digital delivery during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with GPs turning to telehealth and an accelerated e-prescribing rollout.
 
More than 65 million pathology reports are now available on My Health Record.
 
GPs can access pathology reports from most metropolitan and regional public hospitals around Australia, with private pathology provider connections increasing. At present, e-requests can be sent to only one lab provider, though GPs can choose a different lab for each separate request.
 
The system works by generating e-requests automatically and sending them to the nominated pathology lab. A paper request form will be printed at the same time as the e-request, to enable patients to choose a different provider if they wish. However, uploads to My Health Record may not occur in these cases.
 
Pathology request forms with barcodes indicate e-requesting may already be in place.  
 
Dr Hosking told newsGP that e-requesting is ‘a good step in the right direction’.
‘Practices need to talk to the labs they use and ask for this functionality to be turned on. After that, it happens automatically,’ he said.
 
‘At present, when a request arrives at a lab someone manually types in the tests on the form. There’s a risk of error there, and mistakes are sometimes made in transposing.
 
‘[e-Requesting- reduces that risk and increases the accuracy of what the doctor actually requests.
 
‘The results are also available on My Health Record. So if your patient attends another doctor, they can see the results there, and can download them.
 
‘Patients can also see their own results, which may be useful for those who self-manage or want to know about their own conditions, such as those with diabetes HbA1c. They can see if the results are improving or getting worse.’
 
The Australian Digital Health Agency has information on participating providers, as well as the clinical information systems required.
 
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