Provider portal to refresh cancer screening process

Morgan Liotta

3/02/2021 4:41:02 PM

The National Cancer Screening Register’s new eHealth portal also includes clinical software integration.

Doctor looking at computer.
GPs will be able to better monitor patients’ cancer screening with the new eHealth service.

Traditionally, healthcare providers requesting patient information for cervical and bowel screening would call the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) or the relevant pathology provider.
However, the introduction of the NCSR’s online Healthcare Provider Portal is aiming to streamline that process, by enabling GPs, practice nurses and other specialists to access and submit cancer screening data electronically – reducing the need for phone calls, fax and paper use.
Healthcare providers will be able to access patient cancer screening information and better monitor their patients’ screening to ensure it remains up-to-date, in a move to help improve overall cancer screening outcomes.
Dr Steven Kaye, Deputy Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM) welcomed the new eHealth system.
‘The portal will allow improved access to bowel screening information, including the last test done, what happened with previous positive tests and by whom were they conducted,’ he told newsGP.
‘Collection of screening data will be in one place and the register will be national, thus allowing easy information retrieval, regardless of [patients’] change of residence.’
Dr Kaye said the system will also allow GPs and other healthcare providers to further identify the magnitude of any issues, allowing further deployment of funds to improve the visibility, profile and treatment of bleeding from bowel and cervical cancers.
Current Australian data shows there is still some room for improvement in national cancer screening participation rates.
Just under half (42%) of the five million people invited to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) between January 2017 and December 2018 took part – a similar rate (41%) to the previous rolling two-year period.
For the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP), rates are also less-than-ideal.
In 2018–2019, 3.1 million women aged 25–74 had a cervical screening test – an estimated two-year participation rate of 46%. Women aged 55–59 and 60–64 had the highest participation rate (52%), compared to those aged 70–74 with the lowest participation rate (23%).
COVID-19 also contributed to a drop in cervical cancer screening rates in 2020, falling by 67% in April and by 49% in May compared with pre-pandemic periods.
Given the sound evidence that routine cancer screening significantly improves morbidity and mortality rates, the NCSR Healthcare Provider Portal will support GPs in their central role of encouraging screening participation and early detection.
‘An increased identification of early pathology will improve health outcomes,’ Dr Kaye said.
‘With easy vision of results via the portal, the GP can be a more active participant in the preventive care of patients.
‘Similarly, when other screening tools utilise the register, preventive care across many bodily systems will be able to be addressed efficiently.’
The portal allows healthcare providers to:

  • better manage patient participation in the NBCSP and NCSP – including opt out, defer or cease screening options
  • access screening information for participants of both programs – including those who have been invited to participate but have yet to do so
  • request bowel program test kits for eligible participants
  • nominate personal representatives or other healthcare providers to assist
  • lodge clinical forms relating to both programs electronically.
The NCSR will also be integrated with primary care practice management systems Best Practice and MedicalDirector to enable users to report clinical data seamlessly from their existing software interface, using electronic forms.
With regards to any concerns patients may have about data privacy, Dr Kaye said the portal uses ‘maximal security’.
‘Access to the portal is via PRODA [Provider Digital Access], with a two-factor identification on the government website. Another way to access it is via clinical software with permissions obtained via NASH [National Authentication Service for Health] certificate or PRODA, for example,’ he said.
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bowel cancer cancer screening cervical cancer eHealth National Cancer Screening Register

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