Digital secure messaging one step closer

Matt Woodley

21/01/2020 3:07:09 PM

Standards will be applied to all future procurements of secure messaging systems, paving the way for greater interoperability within general practice.

Secure message
GP and eHealth expert Dr Nathan Pinskier told newsGP the transition away from faxes will be a ‘very exciting time’ for healthcare.

The joint state, territory and federal government announcement was revealed at a recent industry workshop attended by more than 50 representatives from clinical and secure messaging software suppliers, governments and clinical representatives.
Dr Nathan Pinskier, former Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management, told newsGP the coming decade will be ‘a very exciting time’ as the healthcare system moves online.
‘What I regularly say is that we’ve done more in the past three years than the previous 10,’ he said.
‘Essentially, that’s been around developing national infrastructure, and reviewing and redefining the standards and specifications.
‘The next phase really involves the software vendors building the capability into their software. There was a funding round announced to vendors last year … and already there are about 40 vendors and just under 60 products that have taken part.’
As a result, Dr Pinskier said GPs can expect significant software capability ‘certainly by the second quarter of this year’, but warned an equally challenging task will be convincing practices to move away from established methods such as fax machines.
‘There’s a perception that electronic communications are less secure … but if you’re using secure messaging that’s going through an encrypted process, it is almost impossible to decrypt,’ he said.
‘You can start to reuse the information, which becomes critical. You can [also] get notification of receipt or of the failure to be received, which becomes important from a timeliness, as well as quality and safety, perspective.’
Importantly, Dr Pinskier believes there is a financial benefit for practices making the transition to digital communication.
‘The savings are not just the individual transmission savings for a telephone call, it’s actually the removal of the fax line,’ he said.
‘[Combined with] possible maintenance costs, plus the ink and toner, you start to talk about potentially thousands of dollars depending on the size of the organisation, or in larger organisations into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
‘Ultimately, it is a better way of doing business. That’s why we all do things electronically today.’
The recent workshop also launched the approach to national scaling as part of the National Digital Health Strategy 2018–22.
Jointly chaired by Dr Pinskier along with incoming Interim Chief Executive of the Australian Digital Health Agency Ms Bettina McMahon, and Medical Software Industry Association CEO Ms Emma Hossack, it helped map the next steps towards mass adoption of digital secure messaging.
‘There is work underway on a standards framework, trust framework and federated directory solution, which is marvellous,’ Ms Hossack said. ‘We have consensus that these will be developed collaboratively and in keeping with the broader digital health interoperability approach.
‘Whilst this can’t be rushed, we are optimistic that future development will occur through agreed standards, validation and conformance, which is good news for all Australians using the health system.’
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Dr Richard Mark Smith   22/01/2020 11:29:02 PM

Great "news" ........
What plans are afoot to ensure that the non-GP Specialists will install the software systems ?
Argus / HealthLink / Pathology EDI - have been here for decades......the uptake has been patchy