Digital must seamlessly mesh with GP workflows: RACGP eHealth forum

Doug Hendrie

29/08/2019 4:25:26 PM

Digital health has to work according to the way GPs practice if is to help – and not hinder.

Dr Rob Hosking
Dr Rob Hosking said he wants to see health informatics become a special interest for increasing numbers of GPs.

That was one of the overarching themes of the RACGP’s fifth annual eHealth forum, held in Melbourne on Thursday 29 August.
‘It should be naturally easy to use data in a well-designed data system to answer questions about our patients and our practices,’ RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC) Chair Associate Professor Mark Morgan said in a forum Q&A session.
RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM) Deputy Chair Dr Steven Kaye told the audience that GPs do not see the value in data for data’s sake, but only in how clinically useful it is.  
According to Dr Kaye, data analysis is not the GP’s role, and many GPs do not see the benefit of ensuring standardised data sets or sharing data.
Dr Kaye talked about how busy GPs already feel swamped by the amount of data they have to deal with in their practice.
But solutions are at hand.
Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) CEO Tim Kelsey told the forum that his agency is focusing this year on improving secure messaging and broader digital health interoperability, after the nationwide My Health Record program ended its opt-out period in February and led to 90% of Australians having a health record created for them.
Mr Kelsey said the My Health Record is now seeing significant growth in registrations and clinical uploads, and he believes there is an opportunity to modernise the system as part of a broader move towards interoperability.
Mr Kelsey gave the example of a GP he knows who was sceptical of the clinical benefits of My Health Record, until he was able to see the prescribing history of a patient who had been seeking strong opioids from a number of GPs. 
Another potential solution lies in a ground-breaking new CSIRO project in progress that focuses on standards for primary care medical data. Primary Care Data Quality Foundations is intended to boost the quality of primary data useful to the GP who inputs it, not the quality of data intended for use in secondary research.
CSIRO Business Development Manager Kate Ebrill said the project is designed to reduce duplication of effort.
Dr Nathan Pinskier, Immediate Past Chair of the REC–PTM, said that between 60–80% of all clinical data is recorded in the free-text area of medical software, making it much harder to analyse.
‘We can have all the structured boxes in the world, but if it doesn’t work for the clinician it doesn’t work,’ he said.
Mr Kelsey also told the forum he believes doctors – and patients – should have a single identifier that follows them through general practice.
In response to a question about the fragmentation of healthcare information systems, Mr Kelsey acknowledged it represents a concern, but said he feels momentum to address the issue is building.
REC–PTM Chair Dr Rob Hosking said he wants to see health informatics become a special interest for increasing numbers of GPs.
‘What we have is the data analytical tools, what we do not have is the time and training to use them. That is why integration is important,’ he said.

digital health ehealth ehealth forum my health record secure messaging

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