New software integration a ‘tremendous advance’

Morgan Liotta

14/09/2021 3:15:48 PM

MedicalDirector has become the second clinical software provider to link with the National Cancer Screening Register.

Female doctor on laptop
Practices using MedicalDirector Clinical 4.0 can now link patient records with the National Cancer Screening Register.

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is now accessible via clinical management software solution MedicalDirector.
This functionality enables general practices and other healthcare providers using MedicalDirector Clinical 4.0 to access patient’s bowel and cervical cancer screening data from the NCSR directly through a patient record in their desktop software.
‘It’s a tremendous advance in the preventive disease measure to help GPs in that space,’ Dr Steven Kaye, GP and member of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management, told newsGP.
‘It’s one of those things that’s difficult to set up, unbelievably simple to use. But the change management process to get people to actually use it is another thing all together.
‘A substantial proportion of general practices using Best Practice [already] have opportunity to use the NCSR − and now the MedicalDirector community will have that same opportunity.’
MedicalDirector is the second clinical software provider to integrate with the register, following Best Practice integration in January 2021.

The integrations align with the launch of the NCSR’s Healthcare Provider Portal earlier this year, which is also designed to simplify the process of requesting patient information for cancer screening.
However, while the new integration should help GPs, Dr Kaye said that practices need to ensure they have the appropriate security gateways connected, such as a National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) certificate, and the appropriate security overlay.
‘[That way] we can be confident that the security of the data is absolute,’ he said.
‘The software in the background then takes care of all that, so you’ve really got fairly instantaneous access.’
The integration of MedicalDirector with the NCSR arms GPs with a number of benefits, Dr Kaye said.
‘It allows obviously searching the cancer screening database, with a particular patient in mind, in a secure fashion,’ he said.
‘This is a tremendous advantage to looking for detail of particular cancer survival rates, screening tests, and cancer screening with outside resources, as opposed to the software being able to interrogate the register directly.
‘Clearly it is thoroughly advantageous and time-saving overall and much more efficient for the patient you’re taking care of in every possible way.’
But there are some issues that may need to be ironed out, according to Dr Kaye.
‘Accessing the registry is currently a bit slow, but that will improve as the software learns about itself and about each other over time,’ he said.
‘And of course, in the past there was an incentive for bowel cancer screening and an incentive for overdue cervical cancer screening and financial incentives, that have now been withdrawn.
‘We don’t have those financial incentives to engage with other cancer screening registries for those two particular topics any longer, which is I guess a bit disappointing. [But] they are public health policy debates and strategies to look at further.’
The NCSR will continue to integrate with more clinical software providers to ensure best possible linkage with the healthcare system. Until the majority of software systems are integrated, NCSR data is also accessible through the Healthcare Provider Portal available via PRODA.
Healthcare providers using MedicalDirector can now securely access a patient’s bowel and cervical screening program information to:

  • identify under-screened and never-screened patients
  • manage a patient’s participation in the cervical and bowel screening programs
  • request bowel program test kits for eligible participants
  • receive notifications of overdue screenings for patient follow up
  • create and send digital program forms.
‘It’s a fantastic advance to really give access to the cancer screening processes,’ Dr Kaye said.
‘I’d expect that other cancer screening systems will come online. Not pre-empting anything, but I expect the mammogram reporting system to be online … [and] it would be great for the other cancers [to be integrated] from a screening process point of view.’

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